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Baseball: ’Dogs’ bats face big arms at Stanford

By | February 22, 2013 | Sports (4)
Fresno State and Stanford faced each four times last year, including a three-game series at Beiden Field. The Bulldogs went 1-3 against the Cardinal, losing 9-1 in the NCAA Stanford Regional. James Ramirez / The Collegian

Fresno State and Stanford faced each four times last year, including a three-game series at Beiden Field. The Bulldogs went 1-3 against the Cardinal, losing 9-1 in the NCAA Stanford Regional. James Ramirez / The Collegian

The Fresno State baseball team, which debuted the season 1-2 at home against UC Santa Barbara, showed a couple of good first impressions.

The young Bulldogs showed might on defense, having not committed a single error in the infield and outfield in their debut weekend.

But an area in need of growth for Fresno State (which is hitting .250 so far in the young season) is at bat.

And one thing the Bulldogs are expecting to face when they travel to Palo Alto for their weekend series against No. 11 Stanford?

Sound pitching.

Senior Mark Appel (the eighth overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft who was also drafted in the first round out of high school) headlines a dense pitching rotation that Fresno State had to deal with four times last season.

Fresno State and Stanford last met in the NCAA Regional. Appel and the host Cardinal won 9-1.

“We’re going to see a great one this weekend,” Fresno State coach Mike Batesole said. “Appel’s going to be 96, 98 mph. We got him good here, and in the Regional he made a nice adjustment. He went to about 70 percent breaking balls. And he’s got an outstanding breaking ball.

“We’re going to come out and attack him again. He’s as good as it gets … He may have the record for turning down the most amount of money in history, and he’s liable to be the first taken in the whole draft this year.”

A few of the Bulldogs’ pitchers, though young and inexperienced, had solid innings of their own on the mound.

Sophomores William Munro and Derick Velazquez and freshman Tim Borst logged the most time on the mound (they pitched a combined 17 innings) this past weekend.

The Bulldogs will go with that same rotation for their starting lineup, Batesole said, with Munro getting the start tonight.

It’s the bullpen that is in need of refinement, Batesole said.

“They’re the best three that we have today,” Batesole said. “That’s why we’re running them out there and that’s why they get to start. You want to put your best guy out there on Friday, your next guy on Saturday and your next guy on Sunday.

“From what they’ve earned in practice and the first weekend they showed that they deserved.”

The Bulldogs’ weekend series against the Cardinal is the first of three consecutive three-game matchups Fresno State will face against Pac-12 competition. Fresno State faces Cal next weekend and hosts USC on March 1-3.

“That’s what this whole nonleague deal is all about is getting us ready for the Mountain West Conference,” Batesole said. “That’s why we’ve got Stanford, USC, Cal back-to-back-to-back.

“We’ll see some fantastic pitching these next few weekends.”

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