Saturday, April 1, 2017

Errors play a huge role as Utah State moves alone into first

Fresno State and Boise State both committed costly errors and handed their respective opponents -- Nevada and Utah State -- wins on Saturday that changed the complexion of the Mountain West race.

Both the Bulldogs and Broncos had defensive meltdowns in the top of the first inning at home, all but gift-wrapping wins for their opponents as the two combined to allow 12 unearned runs -- 6 each.  For Fresno State, it was a pair of 2-out errors in the top of the first inning that proved costly.  Instead of starting pitcher Savannah McHellon getting out of the inning with a 0-0 tie, it quickly turned into a 6-0 deficit from which the Bulldogs couldn't escape.  The six unearned runs would be the difference in the Pack's 8-4 win.

For Boise State, it was equally bad, if not worse.  The Broncos committed five errors in the top of the first inning alone, on their way to a Mountain West season-high nine errors on the day in a 7-3 loss to Utah State.  Only one of the Aggies' seven runs were earned, but it was enough to push USU alone into first place in the MW standings at 6-2, a game ahead of the Bulldogs.

Fresno State has struggled on defense all season long, and things actually seem to be getting worse.  After committing just one error in five games on the opening weekend of the season in February, the Bulldogs have committed 37 errors in the past seven weeks.  In each of their three MW losses, errors have been the difference, as the Bulldogs have allowed 10 unearned runs on six errors in those three defeats.

McHellon hit a home run for the third consecutive game, giving her a Fresno State-high eight home runs this season, but it wasn't enough as the Bulldogs continued a pattern seen in most of their losses lately -- stranded base runners.  Fresno State left 13 base runners aboard, making it 24 stranded runners in the Bulldogs' last two conference losses.

Boise State, meanwhile, was shaky from the start as three of the first four Utah State batters reached on errors.  Third baseman Tatiana Sorokina committed three errors, while Morgan Lamb had a pair of errors.  The Broncos entered the game as one of the MW's best defensive teams, having just 22 on the season.

April Brown improved to 9-2 on the year with her win for Utah State.

Elsewhere, San Diego State used a 4-run sixth inning to dispose of San Jose State 5-3 and even that series at a game apiece.  Colorado State and New Mexico were postponed by weather and will play two Sunday.