Courtesy of Air Force Athletics

Coach Kaz reacts to MW Championship

COLORADO SPRINGS- Saying farewell to what could be its most accomplished group of first-class cadets, the Falcons made the goodbye that much more special, as Saturday’s 11-1 win secured Air Force’s first-ever regular season Mountain West Championship.

Ben Weber was the catalyst for blowout win, as the sophomore matched his season high with 7.0 innings of one-run ball. Weber surrendered an RBI single in the 2nd, though the right-hander was responsible for 12 groundball outs and three double plays, effectively negating his six allowed hits. Weber also picked up three strikeouts.

The win becomes Weber’s second in as many days, and the third start this season he’s reached the seven-inning plateau.

Charlie Jones has yet to slow down, producing three hits in four at-bats, including a 7th-inning grand slam to create a 10-1 Air Force lead in the 7th. Jones also doubled home two runs in the 1st, as his six RBIs on Saturday give him 25 RBIs in the last 10 games.

Factoring in the grand slam, Jones has also slugged nine home runs in his last 10 games.

Tripp Garrish, who produced the RBI double to initiate the 10-run mercy rule in the 7th, finished 2-3 with two runs scored, closing the weekend 6-8 (.750) with 4 RBIs.

Walker Zapp’s 7th inning RBI double ignited Air Force’s seven-run 7th, as the Air Force catcher ended the day 1-2 .

Chase Spencer was 2-3 with an RBI single, as he floated a base-hit into shallow right field in the 3rd to bring in a run. Jay Thomason also managed a pair of hits in four at-bats. Sam Kulasingam didn’t record a hit, though he was credited with a run batted in after a bases-loaded walk in the final inning.

Zach Peters and Aerik Joe each managed hits as well.

Air Force led 3-1 entering the bottom of the 6th, though a lightning delay at the start of the half inning brought upon a delay of roughly an hour and a half. Upon the restart, Thomason opened the frame with a single, eventually advancing to third. Thomason raced home following a passed ball, extending the Falcons lead to 4-1.

Weber remained in the game in spite of the lengthy break in action, and allowed a leadoff single in the 7th. However, Weber induced his third double play of the day to erase the base-hit before ending the inning with a flyout.

In the bottom of the 7th, the first five Falcons of the inning reached, as Kulasingam’s RBI walk increased the lead to 6-1, as Jones’ grand slam later jolted the lead to 10-1. With two outs and the bases empty, Peters’ single and Garrish’s double off of the right field wall were enough force the 10-run mercy rule.

The Falcons 18 conference wins are tied for the most Mountain West victories since joining the league in 2000, matching Air Force’s total set in 2021. Air Force has clinched its third-consecutive Mountain West Tournament berth, posting a 50-40 (.556) conference record the past three seasons. The span of 2022-24 represents the most successful three-year span in Air Force’s 24-year Mountain West membership.

The Falcons will enter the 2024 Mountain West Tournament as the top seed, and will again face the Fresno State Bulldogs to open their championship run. The two teams will match up on Thursday, May 23, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm MT.