Friday, May 28 | 1 p.m. MT | Santa Ana Star Field
SDSU: Michael Paredes, RHP (4-0, 5.10 ERA, 72.1 IP)
UNM: Nathaniel Garley, RHP (1-4, 5.88 ERA, 49.0 IP)
Friday, May 28 | 4:30 p.m. MT | Santa Ana Star Field
SDSU: Troy Melton, RHP (4-5, 6.06 ERA, 68.1 IP)
UNM: Justin Armbruester, RHP (5-2, 3.45 ERA, 73.0 IP)
Saturday, May 29 | Noon MT | Santa Ana Star Field
SDSU: Brian Leonhardt, LHP (1-2, 6.59 ERA, 27.1 IP)
On the final weekend of the regular season, the Aztecs still have a narrow chance of advancing to the postseason. In order to win the Mountain West and earn the automatic bid that comes with it, SDSU will have to sweep New Mexico. Then, San Jose State will have to win three of four games against Nevada.
That’s about as slim as it gets when you need six of the seven games to go in your favor. But this is college baseball, and crazy things happen all the time. SDSU already swept New Mexico once, so it’s quite possible to do that again.
The miracle needs to come from the San Jose State vs. Nevada side of things. Nevada sits atop the regular-season standings. SJSU sits at the very bottom of those same standings. In conference play, they are 2-15 and 6-26 overall.
Focusing on what SDSU can control, the goal is to finish the season strong. They were the top dog in the conference for much of the year. Boosted during the first half of the conference season with an inordinate number of home series, the second half, in turn, consisted mostly of away series. This is when SDSU’s struggles started. With the nation opening up and returning to normal, the Mountain West’s decision to cancel the conference tournament appears to be a misstep. If it came down to a tournament, SDSU would have a much better chance at the automatic bid.
This series also represents one of the last chances for draft hopefuls to show what they have. Troy Melton, Wyatt Hendrie, Jaden Fein, and Matt Rudick all have a chance to sign with a big-league team. Melton obviously is the cream of the crop. MLB Pipeline lists him as the #127 draft prospect. Throughout the year, scouts packed Tony Gwynn stadium to see him. The scouting section would be full when he was in the game, then start to filter out once his outing was over.
He has had a roller-coaster season and really a college career. In his freshman season, he pitched only 2.2 innings due to injury. Then in 2020, right when he got things rolling, COVID-19 caused the season to get cut short. Finally, in 2021, though he is healthy and playing, COVID protocols and constant doubleheaders have made this year far from normal. In total, he may not hit 100 innings pitched in college, which is significant because he was a catcher throughout high school.
He started off the season really strong with a 3.14 ERA after five games. After that, his ERA slowly crept up to the 6.06 mark, where it now sits. His last start will give him a chance to prove that he is not the pitcher that many saw in the previous month. He will take the mound in game two of the doubleheader on Friday.
Stay tuned because a miracle might just happen this weekend.