Saturday, May 2, 2015

Bulldogs win 8th straight; Spartans, Aztecs win

Saturday was a day of status quo action around Mountain West softball as every favored team came out on the winning side.

Fresno State ran its winning streak to eight straight with a 5-0 non-conference road win over Pacific in Stockton.  Pitcher Jill Compton continued her stellar junior season with another shutout, allowing only three hits and picking up her 26th victory of the season, while Kierra Willis supplied four RBI.  The first-place Bulldogs' 8-game winning streak is their longest since 2009, when they last won an outright conference championship.

San Diego State used the hot bat of Lorena Bauer and run-ruled a reeling Utah State team that lost its 10th game in a row.  Bauer's conference-leading 18th home run was the highlight for the Aztecs, while the game marked the third time in just two seasons that the Aggies have had a losing streak of at least 10 games.

San Jose State snapped a 3-game losing streak by turning the tables and taking advantage of a costly Nevada error in an 8-4, come-from-behind win over the Wolf Pack.  In other games, UNLV got a huge day from Samantha Juarez and run-ruled Colorado State to even that series, while New Mexico cemented its third home conference series win of the season by knocking off Boise State.

Fresno State 5, Pacific 0 - Jill Compton struck out seven and allowed only three hits as the Bulldogs shut out the Tigers on the road in Stockton.  Not only was it Compton's 12th straight win when starting a game, it marked the seventh time in those 12 starts she didn't allow an earned run.  Fresno State joined nationally-ranked Washington and Big West champion Cal State Northridge as the only teams to shut out Pacific at home this season.  The Tigers entered the game on a hot streak of their own, having won seven of their last nine contests. Sophomore Kierra Willis delivered a pair of big hits and finished with four RBI, giving her a team-leading 51 on the season.  After Malia Rivers hit an RBI single in the third to put the Bulldogs up 1-0, Willis blasted a deep 3-run homer over the fence in right-center for a 4-0 lead.  With two outs in the seventh, Michelle Solomon doubled and Willis singled her home for a fifth run.  Hannah Harris came on to pitch the bottom of the seventh, retiring UOP in order as Fresno State ran its winning streak to its longest in six years.  The Bulldogs faced a pair of Tigers pitchers who'd both won West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week honors this season, including reigning WCC pitcher of the week Dani Bonnet.

San Diego St. 10, Utah State 2 (5 innings) - This one looked like a mismatch from the outset, with SDSU's Erica Romero heading to the circle for the Aztecs against Alleyah Armendariz (1-16, 9.62 ERA).  It turned out to be exactly that.  Romero made her 50th appearance in 52 San Diego State games this season and picked up her 32nd win against 16 defeats by allowing seven hits.  She had little trouble beating Utah State for a second day in a row as SDSU stormed to an early lead and never looked back.  In the end, the hit totals for the two teams weren't as lopsided as the score.  The Aztecs had nine hits to seven for USU, but the big difference was this:  San Diego State made its hits count in a big way.  Armendariz ran into trouble from the outset as Kayla Jordan doubled to begin the game and Taylor Stewart hit a 3-run home run to make it 4-0 before the game's second out had been recorded.  Lorena Bauer hit her league-leading 18th home run -- a 2-run shot with no outs in the top of the third inning -- and Armendariz was gone not long after that, replaced by freshman Paige Mills (16.80 ERA).  USU got a home run from Noelle Johnson but it wouldn't make much of a dent in the game.  With Johnson not pitching, Utah State was doomed.  No other Utah State pitcher has won more than one game this season, and the Aggies are now 4-34 over the past two seasons when Johnson is not the pitcher of record. Bauer finished with four RBI after hitting a 2-run single an inning after her homer.

San Jose St. 8, Nevada 4 - In San Jose, the host Spartans used a 6-run fifth inning to surge past the Wolf Pack and snap a 3-game losing streak.  Unlike Friday when San Jose State had all sorts of problems defensively, this time SJSU took advantage of a big Wolf Pack miscue to get on the board.  Nevada took an early 2-0 lead in the first against Madison Fish and the Spartans as Karley Hopkins and Jasmine Jenkins started the game with back-to-back doubles.  Leading 3-0 in the fourth, the Pack missed a chance to break the game wide open when Jenkins grounded out with the bases loaded for the final out.  It seemed to give SJSU some hope and momentum, and a Nevada error in the bottom of the fourth changed the complexion of the game and got the Spartans on the scoreboard.  With pitcher Megan Dortch throwing well to that point and keeping the Spartans' offense off-balance, SJSU had runners at first and second base with no outs after consecutive walks.  Dortch got Alyssa Martinez to hit a grounder that initially looked like a possible double play.  Instead, an error by Hopkins turned two outs into none, and allowed a Spartans run to score and put Nevada into a bind.  SJSU would score two runs in the inning without benefit of a hit.  An inning later, after Megan Sweet hit a homer to make it 4-2, SJSU erupted for six runs on just three hits as a pair of walks and a hit batter provided the base runners for key hits, including an Erin Rodriguez 2-run double and Sharon-Renae Estrada 2-run homer.  Both teams finished with seven hits.

New Mexico 7, Boise State 5 - In a game that was interrupted for a time by a lightning weather delay, the Lobos won for a second day in a row over the Broncos, clinching their third straight home series win in Mountain West play.  After Boise State took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second, this one was decided in large part by a 6-run bottom of the second for New Mexico.  The Lobos' six runs in the frame came on five hits -- all in a row -- after Lisa Rodrigues walked to begin the inning.  UNM got consecutive singles from Katie Gallucci, Michala Erickson, Brandi Heimburg, Shelbie Franc and Mariah Rimmer.  The singles by Erickson, Franc and Rimmer all scored runs, while the fourth run of the inning came home on a hit by pitch.  Karissa Haleman hit a sacrifice fly before the sixth run of the second scored on a Boise State error.  To the Broncos' credit, they haven't packed it in for the season and still have some fight left despite a 12-38 record.  A 2-run home run by Devon Bridges pulled Boise State within 7-4 and came just before the break in action due to threatening skies and lightning in the distance.  After the game resumed, BSU held the Lobos scoreless the rest of the way and the Broncos came close to tying it in the seventh.  With two outs and two on base, Izzy Serrano hit an RBI double to make it a 7-5 game and put a pair of Broncos in scoring position.  UNM southpaw Lauren Soles (9-5), who went the distance and scattered 10 hits, got Sara Ketelsleger to fly out and end the Boise State scoring threat.  Freshman Rachel Rodriguez (5-20) took the loss and went just 1+ inning.  Heimburg had three hits, Franc two, and Rimmer a pair of hits and two RBI for UNM, which has its sights on a 30-win season when few thought that was possible back in January.

UNLV 12, Colorado State 3 (5 innings) - In Fort Collins, the Rams committed three costly errors early and that all but sealed their fate on a day where Samantha Juarez had a pair of home runs and a staggering eight RBI.  Juarez hit a 2-run home run in the first inning after Garie Blando led off the game by reaching on an error by CSU starting pitcher Holly Reinke.  Two more Rams errors in the second inning led to a pair of additional runs and it was 4-0.  In the third, UNLV put the game out of reach with a 7-run frame that included a grand slam off the bat of Juarez.  Colorado State ended the game with as many errors (4) as hits, and lost for the ninth time in 11 conference games at home this season.  The Rebels had 14 hits, 11 of which were singles.  Blando finished with two RBI on a day where Juarez was the clear game-changer.  Morgan Ettinger evened her record at 9-9 with the win in a complete-game effort.  A year after earning all-conference honors, Reinke saw her record this season drop to 10-19.