By Stone Harper

Tough times have come to Nevada. After sprinting out to a 26-6 start, the Wolf Pack have been slowed down by inconsistent pitching and has dropped three of its last four games. However, this weekend will present Nevada with its biggest challenge of the year.

The Wolf Pack will travel down to Southern California to take on San Diego State. The Aztecs are currently in first place in the Mountain West Conference and are the defending conference tournament champions.

This series will prove whether the Wolf Pack is legit or nothing but hype. Well, if the Wolf Pack can perform well against San Diego State it can prove that it does belong and that the Pack is finally ready to compete for a College World Series bid.

SMOTHERING PITCHING VS. EXCEPTIONAL HITTING

Nevada’s offense has carried Nevada to its best start in school history. The Wolf Pack has a team batting average of .294, which includes six players with an average over .300. The catalyst to Nevada’s offensive attack is junior Ryan Howell. The first year Wolf Pack player has a .346 batting average which is tied for second on the team. The second baseman has also hit 10 homeruns and 46

RBI’s which are both tops in the MWC. Even though Nevada has been so talented on the offensive side of the game, it will be in for quite a challenge when it takes on San Diego State’s two aces on the mound: Mark Seyler and Bubba Derby.

Seyler is currently 7-1 on the season with an ERA of 2.78, which is the lowest among starting pitchers on the team. However, the guy that Nevada should be most worried about is Derby. The junior is currently 4-2 with a 2.97 ERA. Derby’s most impressive statistic is his ability to strike batters out. In nine starts this year Derby has struck out an astonishing 80 batters.

If Nevada expects to win this series it will need to get to the two aces early in the game and put them out of their comfort zones. If those two are able to start hot, it will be a long weekend for Nevada batters.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE

One thing that can be said about San Diego State is that their sports teams always have a great home field advantage. In basketball, the Aztecs have one of the best home court records in all of the NCAA.

Nothing has changed when it comes to baseball. At Tony Gwynn stadium, the Aztecs are 15-8 while only losing four games last season. Not only is San Diego State strong at home, but the Wolf Pack struggles away from Peccole Park accumulating a 10-7 record on the road, including losing three of its last four away games. Nevada will have to take the first game of the three game series in order to control the series. If San Diego State can feel comfortable it will take advantage of its great home crowd which would be bad news for the Wolf Pack.

Stone Harper can be reached at sharper@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @StoneHarperNVSB.