In a battle to keep conference tournament hopes alive, emotions ran high this past weekend at Beiden Field between Fresno State and Hawaii, which can explain the ejections of both baseball coaches.
Both Mike Batesole and Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso were tossed out of the game for crossing the umpire on Friday and Saturday.
The Bulldogs won the first two games on Thursday and Friday, to stay in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament race, but then dropped the doubleheader that began Saturday afternoon.
The losses now mean that the Diamond â€™Dogs (8-12 in WAC play) have to either win out or take three of the next four games against Sacramento State (8-10 WAC record) to earn a spot in the tournament. Only the top six teams in the WAC qualify to play.
Fresno State tied their season high in runs with its 17-9 victory Thursday night. They then overcame a 7-0 deficit to pull away 14-11 on Friday night.
Batesole became furious over a pitch to Bulldog first baseman Alan Ahmady in Fridayâ€™s game. He stormed over to the umpire in the third inning to discuss the call. There was no hesitation from the umpire as he ejected Batesole.
His departure however ignited the Bulldog bats.
In the third inning, the â€™Dogs scored five runs. They finally took the lead in the sixth by out-scoring the Rainbows 4-1 to take an 11-9 lead. Fresno State then put away Hawaii in the eighth inning by scoring three more runs.
Third baseman Tom Mendonca was one of the players responsible for helping the turnaround on Friday. He finished the game with three hits, four RBIs and a home run.
Even when Batesole was ejected, Mendonca knew it wouldnâ€™t cloud the minds of the Diamond â€™Dogs.
â€œTo be honest, we needed a spark, and Batesole sparked it off for us right there,â€ Mendonca said. â€œHe was walking out and the umpire threw him. Batesole was going to ask him what that pitch was and he just crossed it. I think that umpire went too quick. But it sparked us.â€
Pitcher Holden Sprague was in the dugout when Batesole made his encounter with the umpire.
â€œI donâ€™t think he went out there with the intention of getting thrown out,â€ Sprague said. â€œWhatever happened after that was a good thing. We canâ€™t hang our heads on that.â€
In the first game of the Saturday doubleheader, a tagout call led to Hawaii coach, Mike Trapasso being ejected in the first inning.
Trapasso didnâ€™t agree with the out and ran to third base to plead his case. The Rainbow coach was gone after that.
Hawaii started the game off fast just like on Saturday, as they built a 7-1 lead early after Trapasso departed.
However, Alan Ahmady cut the lead to 7-6 with a three-run homer in the fifth inning. But the Rainbows would score six unanswered runs to take a 13-6 lead. Hawaii would win that contest 15-10.
The Rainbows defeated the â€™Dogs 15-6 in the fourth game in seven innings to pick up the series split.
Batesole still believes his team is in a good position to make a run at the tournament despite splitting the series with the Rainbows.
â€œThe split was probably what we werenâ€™t looking for this weekend,â€ Batesole said. â€œBut it still keeps us in a spot where we control our own destiny. That means that we go down to Sacramento and get three games down there.â€
Pitching and defensive play will be crucial for the â€™Dogs as they face off with the Hornets on Friday.
â€œ[Hawaii] swung the bats exceptionally well today,â€ Batesole said. â€œAt some point, weâ€™re going to figure it out or the seasonâ€™s over. That leaves us one weekend left to figure it out. The good news is we still got hope.â€