The Nevada baseball team needed to sweep San Jose State over the weekend to keep alive its potential to qualify for the Mountain West baseball tournament, and it did just that.
The Wolf Pack took victories of 3-1, 3-2 and 3-2 over the struggling Spartans, who have lost 16 of their last 17 games. Now, Nevada needs to root for SJSU this weekend.
Nevada's regular-season conference run is over at it has a bye on the last weekend of the season. Here's a look at those MW standings heading into the final week of the regular season.
1. Fresno State, 17-8-1
2. San Diego State, 15-11
3. UNLV, 14-13
4. Nevada, 14-16
5. San Jose State, 12-15
6. Air Force, 10-13
7. New Mexico, 9-15-1
Fresno State and San Diego State have clinched spots in the four-team tournament. New Mexico has been eliminated from contention. That leaves UNLV, Nevada, SJSU and Air Force battling for the final two spots.
The only way UNLV will not make the field is if the Rebels get swept at home by Fresno State and this week and SJSU takes two out of three at Air Force. That would create a three-way tie for and third/fourth spots at 14-16. Nevada and SJSU would advance in that scenario as Nevada is 6-3, SJSU is 4-5 and UNLV is 5-9 versus one another in the three-team tiebreaker.
As far as Nevada is concerned, the Wolf Pack's path to the MW Tournament relies solely on the SJSU at Air Force series. If SJSU sweeps the series or Air Force sweeps the series, Nevada will be eliminated from the MW Tournament. Any other scenario would put the Wolf Pack in the event.
It's pretty clear: A SJSU sweep would make the Spartans 15-15, which is better than Nevada's 14-16. And even if UNLV was swept by Fresno State and finished 14-16, tied for fourth with the Wolf Pack, the Rebels would own the tiebreaker thanks to its superior record against Fresno State. On the flip side, if Air Force sweep SJSU it will end the regular season 13-13 in conference, which tops Nevada's 14-16 for that final spot. If the Falcons win only two of three, it would end the regular season at 12-14, which is slightly worse (on winning percentage) than Nevada's 14-16. (Note: Air Force had four MW games canceled, two due to weather and two due to a New Mexico player being shot to death after the first game of their series in Albuquerque, which explains the difference in games played).
So anything outside of a SJSU or Air Force sweep puts Nevada in the tournament. It's unlikely SJSU sweeps Air Force. The Spartans are bad. Beyond their 1-16 record in the last 17, they're 19-32 overall and 7-22 on the road. Air Force has a better chance of pulling off the sweep to deprive Nevada of a tournament berth, although the Falcons are 24-25 overall and 11-9 at home, so it's not a juggernaut by any means.
All the Wolf Pack needs is both of those teams to win at least one game against each other this weekend and Nevada will be in the MW Tournament, which it will host from May 23-26 at Peccole Park. The winner of the MW Tournament will get the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals, a place Nevada has not reached since 2000.