Baseball: ’Dogs’ bullpen in need of honing

Following last weekend’s series against Stanford, Fresno State baseball prepares to take on another Pac-12 team against USC.

The Bulldogs have gotten off to a rough start this year with a 1-6 record after games against UC Santa Barbara, Stanford and CSU Bakersfield.

Fresno State coach Mike Batesole said a major concern for the team so far has been refining the shaky bullpen.

“Nobody wants to get off to a poor start,” Batesole said. “Everybody wants to get this going in the right direction. Somebody’s got to step up. For us that means our bullpen, which has been struggling.”

Four of the Bulldogs’ six losses were charged to relief pitchers and four members of the bullpen currently have ERAs above 10—Aaron Gillis, Tyler Linehan, Tyler Stirewalt and Luke Wichec.

Batesole said the Bulldog bullpen has shown signs of turning things around.

“We did finally see some good relief pitching in spurts against Bakersfield,” he said. “I think if we can keep Brink in the pen where he belongs and just let  Gillis come in and pump the zone pretty good. If we can get those two in the zone and get Linehan righted. That’s a lot of ifs, but all of a sudden now, it’s going pretty good and in the right direction.”

On top of a rough start from the bullpen, Fresno State is sporting a young roster this season, putting a lot of pressure on the seven players with two or more years of experience at the college level.

“We do have a junior hitting third, a senior hitting fifth and a fifth year senior hitting fourth, so we do have some veteran guys hitting in the middle of the order. If we can get them going, I think this thing will turn around fast.”

Batesole said the Bulldogs have performed strong in some areas, even if their record says otherwise.

“There have been a lot of positives,” he said.

“It’s hard to figure that when you’re getting off to a slow start. Our starting pitching has been outstanding, and our infield defense has been nothing short of phenomenal.”

On Friday, the Bulldogs begin a three game series against the 5-3 USC Trojans.

“It’ll be nice this weekend to be home. And then, of course, we’ll be off to Cal next weekend, but this weekend is where our focus is,” Batesole said. “We’ve got to get our bullpen and the middle of the order straight. If we do that, then this is going to turn.”