Aug 19, 2019

Not exactly the National Champs

Bryan Cole / Collegian File Photo
The Fresno State baseball team is tied for last place with only three weekend series left in 2009

Coming off of a national championship, Fresno State baseball fans knew that anything short of a repeat this season would seem anti-climactic, no matter how unrealistic that goal may be.

But most didn’t expect to fall quite so far down.

The Bulldogs are tied for last place in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), falling to the bottom of the league, amidst getting swept by lowly Louisiana Tech two weeks ago and a four-game split with San Jose State last weekend.

The team sits at 20-22 on the season, 4-8 in the WAC, and has lost seven of its last nine, heading into last night’s game against Cal Poly.

Many of the wins came against overmatched clubs from smaller schools. The team has also experienced mild off-the-field controversy with the news of an upcoming book about supposed team unrest during the 2008 College World Series.

Bryan Cole / Collegian File Photo

Though there have been some bright sports with Tom Mendonca breaking the all-time school record for home runs and right-handed pitcher Matt Morse earning WAC Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance against San Jose State on April 24, overall, the team has underperformed since winning the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic in early March.

Mendonca is expected to leave for a professional baseball career before his senior season.

The skid started when the team was swept by Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles back in late March and it has failed to recover top form since.

Six of Fresno State’s 14 pitchers have ERAs above seven, and ten have ERAs above four.

The bats have gone cold as well, as the team scored a combined 14 runs in four games against SJSU.

Worse, the pitching staff and the offense can’t seem to sync up. They have lost low-scoring games (6-5 and 2-0 to San Jose State) and high-scoring games (11-9 and 14-12 to Louisiana Tech) by very close margins.

Last year’s team started the season 8-12, but improved significantly by this point last season. The WAC tournament is less than a month away and the team has only three WAC matchups left to improve their performance, including this weekend’s four-game series at home against Nevada.

Head coach Mike Batesole could not be reached for comment due to the game on Tuesday.

The ’Dogs can take solace in the fact that first-place Nevada has only one more overall win than they do, and that getting hot during tournament time is what really matters in college baseball.

But the team is running out of time to correct itself before that crucial period starts. If it fails, it will be an embarrassing first-to-worst blemish on the program and could hurt future recruiting efforts as Fresno State tries to ride its success to a place among college baseball’s consistent top teams.

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