Sunday, April 3, 2016

SWEEP! No. 25 Fresno State first to sweep a 3-game MW series from Aztecs


Fresno State accomplished something Sunday that no one had been able to do in the past.  In front of 1,302 fans at Margie Wright Diamond, the No. 25-ranked Bulldogs became the first Mountain West team to sweep a 3-game series from San Diego State since the conference adopted the 3-game series format.

While Fresno State captured its series against the Aztecs for a third straight season, the past two were by 2-1 margins.  Until Sunday, no Mountain West team in the last 11 years had swept a multi-game season series from San Diego State, regardless of the series format.  In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2005, when the league had a home-and-away doubleheader format, to find a season where Coach Kathy Van Wyk's team ended a year without at least one win over a fellow Mountain West team.

Red-hot Fresno State won its 16th straight conference game dating back to last season and completed an impressive week by moving to 6-0 in MW play and 24-9-1 overall with an 8-5 win.  The Bulldogs reached double-digits in hits in all six games and averaged 12 runs a game this week in crushing the opposition 72-24.

San Diego State, with 15 conference games remaining, fell six full games behind the league-leading Bulldogs.  And without holding the tiebreaker, it essentially amounts to a 7-game lead, putting the Aztecs' string of nine straight NCAA appearances in serious jeopardy.  SDSU is 3-6 in MW play and 21-16 overall after entering the series having won eight of its previous 11 games.

The Bulldogs spotted SDSU an early 2-run lead in this one as Sam Camello led off the game with a double and scored on a 2-base throwing error.  A sacrifice fly plated an additional run for the Aztecs before Fresno State took the lead for good in the bottom of the first.

Bria Kennedy walked and Malia Rivers singled (one of her three hits on the afternoon) before Kierra Willis got the 'Dogs on the board with a sacrifice fly.  Alyssa Villalpando and Lindsey Willmon then continued their sizzling performances this week, with one of those two certain to win MW Player of the Week honors.  Villalpando hit an RBI double and Willmon an RBI single to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead.

Fresno State pushed that margin to five runs just an inning later.  Whitney Smith singled and Bria Kennedy reached on a force out of Smith.  Malia Rivers then singled, and Kennedy used some nifty base running to score on an Aztecs error.  Willis then singled to put two runners aboard for Villalpando, who sent a deep home run over the fence in left.  It was Villalpando's sixth home run of the season, and she finished with a four RBI day and 13 RBI week.

San Diego State took advantage of a trio of walks and three Bulldog errors in the game to make it a 7-5 contest in the fifth.  Freshman Molly Sturdivant had a strong series and her sacrifice fly in the third -- after three walks loaded the bases -- made it a 7-3 game.  Her RBI double in the fifth immediately followed a Bulldog error and made it a 2-run ballgame.

The Bulldogs added an insurance run in the sixth when freshman Morgan Howe delivered a pinch-hit single to open the frame, and Rivers' third hit of the game scored pinch runner Christina Rodriguez, who took over for Howe.

Compton earned her Mountain West-leading 14th win on a week where she went 5-0 in conference play, starting four of the Bulldogs' six games.  Alex Formby started her second game of the series and picked up her second loss for San Diego State.

Colorado State 9-5, San Jose St. 3-13 - In Fort Collins in front of 156 fans, the Rams and Spartans split a doubleheader, with each team winning in a rout.  In game one, Holly Reinke earned the complete-game victory and Jaelyn Manzanares hit a home run and finished with three RBI.  In the nightcap, Jessica Madrid and Alyssa Avila homered for San Jose State and a 7-run top of the fourth blew it open.  Collette Riggs threw 3 2/3 innings for the win, while CSU freshman Bridgette Hutton took the loss.

Utah St. 7, UNLV 4 - In Las Vegas in front of 163 fans, the Aggies prevailed to sweep the series from a suddenly reeling UNLV team, which has lost six straight and 10 of 13.  Utah State's Noelle Johnson scattered 10 hits and picked up the victory to move her record to 6-7.  Rebels starter Morgan Ettinger, one of three UNLV pitchers, suffered the loss.  Libby Pederson had a home run and two RBI to lead USU.

New Mexico 3, Nevada 2 - In Reno in front of 134 fans, all of the scoring came late as the Lobos avoided a sweep.  Mariah Rimmer homered in the sixth for a 1-0 UNM lead before Nevada scored twice in the bottom of the sixth on Melissa Arriaga and Amanda Weis RBI singles.  In the seventh, the Lobos won it by scoring a pair of runs on three hits.  Collette Robert picked up the win, while Brooke Bolinger took the loss.