Photo by Breanna Denney / Nevada Sagebrush
In the penultimate conference series of the season, the Wolf Pack takes on Mountain West-leading Lobos at home
by Chris Boline
By Chris Boline
Do you smell what the Wolf Pack is cookin’? If you don’t, then you should be aware that this week Nevada has the opportunity to take the top dogs of the Mountain West down to the smackdown hotel aka Peccole Park.
Following a subpar series against Air Force on the road, the Wolf Pack has the opportunity to make up some important ground prior to the Mountain West tournament later in May. Of course, the 1-2 stint against the Falcons could be chalked up Nevada’s road woes (9-15 on the year), but this is also the critical time when the team’s veteran leaders need to step up.
While New Mexico will be the main course for this week’s slate of games, the Wolf Pack will have to tangle with both UC Davis (who Nevada lost to by a score of 4-3 on the road) and St. Mary’s, which has struggled mightily this year (record of 14-33 overall), at home.
Nevada has been treading water since the end of their six-game April winning streak with a record of 5-6, however playing at home will be critical in whether or not the Wolf Pack be a jabroni or “The Great One”.
AGGIES AND GAILS ARE A COMBINED 9-34 AWAY
Indeed, actions speak much louder than words, and with that being said, the combined records of both UC Davis and St. Mary’s on the road leaves much to be desired.
Up first is the Aggies and while they did manage to squeeze past Nevada in extra innings last time the two squared off, UC Davis has struggled since then. The Aggies have gone 7-15 since the March 25th meeting between the teams. Although UC Davis has struggled since then, the Aggies do feature a strong, consistent hitter at the plate in Kevin Barker and also on the mound in the form of Spencer Koopmans.
Barker has displayed the most consistency of any Aggies hitter this season by leading the team in games played, starts, batting average (.355), doubles (10) and also stolen bases (six). On the other end, Koopmans has been at the head of the Aggies pitching rotation as the leader in earned running average (2.91) and wins (four).
For the Gaels, the story is very much the same on one end as the feature one great hitter (Anthony Gonsolin), but much to be desired in their pitching rotation. Gonsolin leads St. Mary’s in batting average (.337), slugging percentage (.500) and also total bases (89). However, for as well as Gonsolin has done, the Gaels’ pitching staff has not held up their end. St. Mary’s pitchers have given up 4.81 runs per game to go along with a mediocre opposing batting average of .273.
LOBOS, LEADER OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST PACK
Similar to a bout for the undisputed heavyweight title, the upstart Wolf Pack has a difficult battle ahead of them against New Mexico, but it’s not impossible to win. The Lobos have been crushing the ball this season (seven of the team’s nine batters in the line-up have batting averages over .300) and their opponents have paid the price. New Mexico is at the top of the Mountain West with an overall record of 33-15-1, but have only received a handful of attention from the national media for USA Today top 25 consideration.
Although the Lobos might not have cracked the top 25 quite yet, they feature some stars on their team, none bigger than right fielder Chase Harris. The senior leads the team in every major hitting category aside from double (Alex Real has an incredible 21 on the season). Limiting Harris and the rest of the Lobo offense will be a chief concern for Nevada, and if the Wolf Pack can gain some momentum from Davis and St. Mary’s at home then the final push to the conference tournament will be a blistering one.
Chris Boline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.