Michelle Moses and the rest of the Bulldogs turned in a dominating performance against New Mexico State as Fresno State took a three-game sweep over the weekend to take over first-place in the Western Athletic Conference by half a game.
The sweep, coupled with Hawaii going 2-1 in its series with Nevada, allowed the Bulldogs to take first from Hawaii with the two teams set to have their series this upcoming weekend in Honolulu.
“New Mexico State’s a great team and getting three wins was very nice and that’s something positive to go into Hawaii with,” senior pitcher Mackenzie Oakes said.
In Friday’s opener, Moses turned in her second consecutive one-hit shutout, beating the Aggies 1-0. It was her sixth one-hit performance of the season.
The only hit the Aggies could muster was a leadoff single by Amber Olive. The bounced off the outstretched arm of Moses as the ball went down the middle of the field. Moses would end the day with six strikeouts and only two walks.
The Bulldogs’ lone run in the game came in the third inning on an infield single by Brooke Ortiz that brought in Maria Sio from third.
The Bulldogs put aside their red, white and blue jerseys on Saturday and wore purple in support of their ninth-annual Domestic Violence Awareness Day.
The Aggies threatened early, leading off the game with consecutive singles from Amber Olive and Malena Padilla.
Bulldog starting pitcher Oakes then dispatched the rest of the Aggies hitters striking out Tiare Jennings followed by forcing Briana Tovio-Asato to ground into a double play. After the first two hits, the Bulldogs then recorded 11 consecutive outs before the Aggies next base runner recorded a single in the fourth.
Moses and Courtney Moore put the Bulldogs on the board in a hurry on back-to-back home runs with two outs in the first inning. Following a walk to Stesha Brazil, Aggies starting pitcher Alex Newman was pulled in favor of Karysta Donisthorpe.
The Bulldogs added to their lead in the sixth when Sio nearly stretched her RBI single into a double that brought in Vonnie Martin into score.
The Aggies finally got on the board in the final inning on a solo home run by Kelsey Dodd, ruining Oakes’ bid for her third shutout of the year.
“It’s disappointing, but luckily our team scored three runs early and gave me a nice cushion so they picked me up on that one,” Oakes said on just missing the shutout.
Oakes allowed four hits and struck out three for her ninth win of the season.
The second game had the feel of an old-fashioned pitchers duel as both Bulldog Moses and Aggie Celisha Walker didn’t allow ether lineup to get much offense going early in the game.
In the fourth the ‘Dogs were in scoring position when the Aggies’ Amber Olive over pursued a fly ball by Stesha Brazil putting her on second. Brazil didn’t stay put long as Martin brought her home on a double.
The ‘Dogs tried to tack on another run late in the inning on a close play at home on a Kaitlin Griffin single but catcher Alyssa Ruiz applied the tag as Martin made her way for home.
Defensively, Andrea Ortega made a spectacular catch slamming her body into the outfield fence to catch a would-be home run by Tiare Jennings, as she help preserve Moses’ chance at perfection.
After retiring the first 17 batters Moses’ perfect game slipped through her grasp when Shaleese Javillo singled up the middle in the sixth inning.
The Bulldogs got a much-needed insurance run with another RBI coming off the bat of Martin, this time it was an RBI ground out that scored Kaylan Pollard from third.
The Aggies showed life late in the game scoring a run in the top of the seventh. The run prevented Moses from obtaining her third-straight shutout but wasn’t enough to prevent her from picking up her 20th victory on the season. She would end the day striking out six and not allowing a walk.
The Bulldogs will fly to Hawaii for a three-game series Friday and Saturday that will determine sole possession of first place in the WAC.