Aug 24, 2019
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Hawaii clings to 2-1 series lead of WAC’s best

Fresno State closes series gap with 4-2 Sunday-afternoon victory


Mike Howells/The Collegian

In a pivotal weekend conference series pitting the Western Athletic Conference’s top-two squads against each other, Hawaii has gotten the better of Fresno State — so far.

On Friday’s game Bulldog ace Greg Gonzalez lowered his season ERA after another masterful performance where he struck out 11, bringing his WAC-leading total to 88 in only 5 innings of work, but earned a no-decision.

“We scuffled in the first inning and after that buckled down, things just got away in the first,” Gonzalez said.

Hawaii jumped to an early lead with three unearned runs in the first inning, even though Gonzalez recorded three strikeouts that inning. The Rainbows scored all three runs after Danny Muno committed an error that would have gotten the Bulldogs out of the inning.

Jordan Ribera, who had a batting average of .206 and only .130 with runners in scoring position going into the series, brought in Muno who was on second by hitting a home run for the second straight game and his fourth of the year, narrowing the gap at 3-2. Ribera later would add an RBI single in the third to give the Bulldogs their first lead, 4-3.

“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable at the plate and getting myself in better counts to hit,” Ribera said. “If I keep working at it good things will come.”

Cody Kendall came on in the sixth in relief of Gonzalez. The right-hander gave up the first earned for the Bulldogs when Zack Swasey hit a single to bring in Jeffrey Van Doornum from third. A sacrifice fly later in the inning gave the Rainbows back the lead, 5-4.

The Bulldogs tied it at five in the bottom of the eighth inning off the bat of Muno.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Bulldog relief pitcher Charlie Robertson threw a wild pitch to advance Sean Montplaisir and brought home the winning score and gave Hawaii a 6-5 advantage in the top half of the 10th inning.

“Hawaii’s had us circled on the calendar since the schedule came out,” Ribera said following Friday’s loss. “We fought hard. We should have won that game. We just got to get up and do it tomorrow.”

Fresno State followed up the Friday night thriller with a disappointing 6-2 loss in Saturday’s matchup. The loss put the Dogs two-and-a-half games back in the WAC and dropped their overall record to 28-9.

Josh Poytress started the game for the Bulldogs and went 7.1 innings, allowing two runs. The Bulldogs gave up one run in the second inning on a solo shot from WAC Preseason Player of the Year Kolten Wong.

In the sixth inning Dusty Robinson hit his team-leading 11th home run of the season to make the score 2-1. A double by Andy Qualls in the seventh and a single by third baseman Andy Qualls tied the game at 2-2.

The ninth resulted in a big inning for the Rainbows who scored four unearned runs and scored a 2-0 series lead.

But Fresno State answered back in the third game Sunday afternoon, due in large part to Brennan Gowens’ big day at the plate. The junior was 3-for-3 at the plate and a triple short of hitting for the cycle.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 1-0 lead after one inning of play, but both teams hit a dry spell until the fifth. In the fifth inning, Hawaii reeled off two runs, but Fresno State knotted the score at 2-2 on a Gowens RBI single. Gowens’ seventh-inning two run homer gave the Bulldogs a 4-2 advantage and ultimately their 29th win on the season.

Freshman Tyler Linehan improved to 3-1 on the season while Taylor Garrison recorded the Sunday save.

Fresno State and Hawaii face again tonight at 6:05.

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