Sunday, May 8, 2016

No. 18 Fresno State runs nation-best win streak to 21 with road sweep


After two days of rain canceled games in Reno, they finally got to play as No. 18 Fresno State tangled with host Nevada on Senior Day for the Wolf Pack.

It was all Fresno State.  Despite Nevada entering with the league's second-best overall record at 30-12, the Wolf Pack were swept at home by a Bulldog squad that hasn't lost a game in nearly two full months.  Fresno State pounded out 24 hits, including five home runs (three by Kierra Willis) that shattered the school's single-season home run record in a 7-3, 10-6 doubleheader sweep of Nevada.

Fresno State has hit a school-record 56 home runs this year, nearly double its season total of 29 a year ago.

The 2016 Bulldogs squad tied the 1999 Fresno State softball team for the longest winning streak in school history at 21 straight games.  In addition, the Bulldogs have won a Mountain West-record 30 consecutive conference games spanning two seasons, and are the first MW team ever to win its first 20 games of the season.  Fresno State is 20-0 in conference play, seven games ahead of second-place San Jose State in the loss column and 11 games in front of the Aztecs of San Diego State.

All the talk around the conference wasn't about the Bulldogs though  on Sunday, as Colorado State senior Holly Reinke pitched a no-hitter over UNLV in her final collegiate game.

No. 18 Fresno State 7, Nevada 3 - In Reno, Fresno State pitcher Jill Compton struck out 11 to move her record in conference play to a perfect 14-0.  Kierra Willis hit home runs in each of her first two at-bats against Nevada starting pitcher Brooke Bolinger and finished with a four RBI game.  Willis' first homer of the day was the 52nd of the year by the Bulldogs, breaking the school's single-season home run record, set in 2010.  Bria Kennedy and Lindsey Willmon both had two hits, while freshman Vanessa Hernandez hit a 2-run double that helped the Bulldogs build an early 7-0 lead.  Compton was dealing, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning and retiring 11 straight batters at one point.  She is the first Mountain West pitcher to ever win her first 14 straight conference games in a season.

No. 18 Fresno State 10, Nevada 6 - In game two in Reno, the Bulldogs pounded out 15 hits, including three more home runs, against Wolf Pack starter McKenna Isenberg.  Freshman starting pitcher Kamalani Dung (5-0 in Mountain West play) earned the victory, her eighth overall this season without a loss.  The Bulldogs got off to a strong start for the second game in a row.  Paige Gumz and Lindsey Willmon singled to begin the top of the second inning.  After an out, freshman Vanessa Hernandez hit a home run way out of Hixson Park for a 3-0 lead as the Bulldogs didn't trail in either game.  Fresno State got back-to-back home runs in the fifth as Willis hit a deep, 2-run shot for her third round-tripper of the afternoon.  Alyssa Villalpando, who hit an RBI double earlier in the game, blasted a homer to left and the Bulldogs had reached double-figures in runs for the ninth time in their last 14 road games.  Willis finished with an amazing day that saw her go 5-for-8 with 7 RBI and four runs scored with four extra-base hits (3 HRs and a double).  Hernandez had the biggest day of her young Bulldog career, finishing with five RBI.  Willmon, Villalpando, Rivers, Gumz and Bria Kennedy all had multi-hit games.  For the Pack, Jennifer Purcell hit solo home runs in both games.  Fresno State tied a school record set four times previously, finishing with a perfect wining percentage (1.000) on the road in conference play.

Colorado State 7, UNLV 0 - In Las Vegas, this was all about Rams senior Holly Reinke.  Colorado State became the first Mountain West team to conclude its 2016 season, and went out in style.  And so did Reinke.  In her final game as a collegian, she pitched a complete-game no-hitter -- the first no-hitter of her career -- in a rout over the Rebels.  Colorado State, which was dealt a rough hand by Mother Nature this year with series after series being delayed or canceled by weather, saved its best for last.  In the only conference series the Rams played this season without a weather delay, CSU picked up its only sweep.  In fact, it was Colorado State's first road sweep in conference play since 2013.  Reinke allowed two walks and one UNLV base runner to reach on an error.  CSU had 11 hits with Kristina Akiona hitting two home runs and Jaelyn Manzanares and Savannah Clark one each.

San Jose State 14, Boise State 4 - The Spartans completed a road sweep of last-place Boise State with another rout.  This was the first game of the series to go the distance, and again home runs were on display in the Mountain West's most home run-friendly park.  SJSU hit four of them and Boise State hit three.  For San Jose State, Alyssa Martinez, Jessica Madrid, Madison Aurin and Taylor Purdy all went deep.  For Boise State, freshman Rebekah Cervantes hit a pair, and Morgan Lamb hit one.  Seven of the 16 total hits in the game were homers, and three of the Broncos' five hits were longballs.  Colette Riggs picked up the win for the Spartans, who have clinched at least a tie for second place in the final Mountain West standings.

New Mexico 3, San Diego St. 2 (10 innings) - Lisa Rodrigues hit a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to erase a 2-1 deficit and hold on for the win.  It snapped a 9-game home losing streak for New Mexico, and put a serious dent in San Diego State's already slim hopes for an NCAA at-large bid.  The Aztecs broke a 1-all tie in the top of the 10th inning when Molly Sturdivant's RBI single scored Leia Ruiz, who hit a 1-out double.  UNM's win looked improbable when San Diego State pitcher Alex Formby got two quick outs to begin the bottom of the 10th.  A Karissa Haleman single with two outs set the stage for Rodrigues.  Lauren Soles picked up the win for the Lobos.