Sunday, April 30, 2017

5 teams remain alive in the hunt for a MW title entering May


Another weekend is in the books, and five teams -- Fresno State, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, and Utah State -- remain alive in the race for the regular-season Mountain West title.

Three of those teams -- the Bulldogs, Wolf Pack and Spartans -- posted 3-game sweeps this weekend, with SJSU and Fresno State picking up sweeps on the road.  Utah State, meanwhile, has seen its once healthy 3-game lead in the conference standings, dwindle to just one.  The Aggies took two of three at home against San Diego State this weekend, but suffered their worst conference loss of the season in their final home game of 2017.

San Diego State hit two grand slams in a 15-5 (five innings) rout of Utah State in Logan in the home finale for the Aggies.  SDSU jumped all over USU freshman pitcher Kellie White in a nightmarish 6-run first inning that decided the game.  Shelby Thompson hit a grand slam in the first against White, and the Aztecs added another in the fourth as Jenavee Peres hit a grand slam against reliever April Brown.  It was Peres' conference-leading 14th home run of the year.  Freshman Marissa Moreno allowed five runs in the win.

San Jose State completed a 3-game sweep in Albuquerque by taking two from New Mexico Sunday.  A 10-1 Spartans win in game one of the doubleheader was followed by a 7-2 victory in the nightcap.  SJSU moved to 12-6 in league play, tied with Utah State in the loss column, and setting up a big series next weekend in California. San Jose State must win the series to remain alive for the MW regular-season title, while Utah State can clinch the league championship outright with a 3-game road sweep.

Fresno State kept its slim title hopes alive with a dramatic, come-from-behind win Sunday in Las Vegas to sweep the important road series over UNLV.  The Bulldogs had their best weekend in conference play this season behind the arm of sophomore pitcher Kamalani Dung, who tossed all 320 pitches this weekend for Fresno State.  Dung went 3-0, allowing just four extra-base hits in 23 innings of work.

Savannah McHellon hit her team-leading ninth homer of the season for the Bulldogs, who rallied in the seventh inning.  Trailing 3-1, sophomore Vanessa Hernandez led off the seventh with a double against UNLV pitcher Morgan Ettinger.  A pinch-hit walk by sophomore Dominique Jackson put the tying run aboard.  With two outs, freshman Miranda Rohleder laced a game-tying, 2-run double, and sophomore Morgan Howe followed with an RBI single to plate the eventual game-winning run.

Dung won her 20th game of the season.

In Reno, tough-luck Colorado State suffered a third straight late-game loss.  Nevada scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to complete a 3-game sweep of the Rams in a 5-4 win.