College teams started their weekend series' on Thursday this week, due to Easter Sunday. Some clubs got off to great starts for the weekend (Cal, Cal Poly, Nevada, Stanford) but others continue to struggle (USF, St. Mary's)...
- Cal is at USC this weekend and looking to build off the big series win last weekend on the road at Texas. Well, they got off to a great start with a come from behind 5-4 win, scoring two in the top of the ninth to steal a win from the Trojans. Tony Renda hit a double to score the winning run. Cal is now 2-5 in the Pac-12 and if they can somehow sweep this series, they would have to be considered a team to pay attention to. Cal typically runs hot and cold and because they have talent, if they get to running hot, it can lead to an extended good streak. Of note, LHP Michael Theofanopoulos got the start on the mound in game one agaisnt USC. That spot had belonged to Justin Jones but he really struggled his last two times out. Nice adjustment by the coaching staff.
- Stanford got a MUCH NEEDED win at Washington. Why was the win so big? Well, the Cardinal were swept last weekend at Arizona and they need to get a sweep of their own to make-up for those three losses. Junior RHP Mark Appel went the distance for Stanford, throwing a four-hitter in the 5-2 win. Stanford played error free baseball and the offense posted 12 hits. They are now 3-4 in Pac-12 play.
- Nevada continued it's surprisingly (to me) good season, with a conference win at New Mexico State, which is NEVER an easy place for any visiting team. Nevada marched on in to Las Cruces and got a convincing 10-5 win on Thursday, behind six strong innings from RHP Braden Shipley and an offense that recorded 13 hits, including five players with two hits apiece. The Wolfpack bullpen was a little shaky, allowing six walks in three innings and that is usually a recipie for disaster at NMSU (now 23-9). However, Nevada seems to be leading a charmed existence this season and is off to a 1-0 start in WAC play.
- Cal Poly bounced back from last Sunday's shutout loss to Long Beach State with their own shutout in game one against UC Irvine. RHP Joey Wagman (5-2) went eight very strong innings and the offense had multiple contributions as Cal Poly tries to get at least two of three from the Anteaters. They are now 2-2 in the Big West and gave UCI their first loss.
- San Jose State got a 3-0 win at Pacific and they have won four of their last six. As for Pacific, not that SJSU is a big hitting team (they aren't), it's a continued step in the right direction for their pitching staff. I have been very critical of the Tigers pitching this year and in recent years but they are trending in the right direction. Freshman RHP Michael Benson is having a very nice season and was strong on Thursday. The team ERA is now down to 5.55. SJSU recorded nine hits and they had five pitchers combine on the shutout, with hard-throwing Zack Jones getting his fifth save of the season.
- USF's bats continue to be not just silent in WCC play. The Dons dropped a 2-1 decision at Portland and another stellar outing from Kyle Zimmer (8 IP, 9 K) went to waste. USF got eight hits and scored their lone run in the top of the ninth. Two runs by Portland in the bottom of the first held up. How tough has it been for the USF offense in WCC play? Well, in three of their four conference games they have scored only one run. USF is now 1-3 in the WCC and I would think they need to get the last two games to stay within shouting distance of the conference leaders.
- Saint Mary's is on an extended slide and they might have hit bottom on Thursday in a 7-1 loss at home against Pepperdine. The Gaels have now lost six in a row and seven of their last eight. They got exactly ONE hit yesterday and were no-hit by Pepperdine RHP John Moscot for 8.2 innings until Troy Channing ended the no-hit bid with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. They are now 1-6 in the WCC. Not only did the offense record only one hit, they also made two errors that lead to five unearned runs. This team is much more talented than what is showing on the field right now but as they say, you are what you are. What they are is 1-3 at home in WCC play and 0-3 on the road.
- UC Davis put up a good fight at Cal State Fullerton, leading 4-2 heading to the bottom of the eighth. However, they lost the lead and the game 5-4. As I have said before, this team is going to compete in the Big West but will fall short of contending. Aggie LHP Dayne Quist had another very solid outing and is having an outstanding season. Senior OF David Popkins homered for the Aggies.
- Fresno State fell 8-2 at Hawaii. With the way the Bulldogs have pitched this season, I think they have a chance to bounce back in games two and three against the Rainbows but with the way the offense has hit this season, I don't know that they have enough firepower to overcome a very strong Hawaii pitching staff. LHP Tyler Linehan has had a strong season for Fresno State but didn't have it on Thursday night, giving up five runs in the seventh inning. Not only did he have a rough time on the mound, he also made two errors. Bad games happen and this was the first WAC game for the Bulldogs, they will try to bounce back on Friday.