Baseball: ‘Dogs host Aztecs in conference-opening series

By | March 15, 2013 | Sports (4)

This weekend, Fresno State baseball will be hosting its inaugural conference series as members of the Mountain West.

The Tony Gwynn-coached San Diego State Aztecs (7-10) are coming to town to welcome the Bulldogs (3-12) to the conference in a three-game series starting tonight.

Both teams are currently on five-game losing streaks. San Diego State’s streak is due to a four-game road series against Arkansas and another loss on the road to UC Irvine on Tuesday.

The Bulldogs’ streak follows a big home loss to San Jose State and a four-game stint against Cal in Berkeley this past weekend.

Head coach Mike Batesole said that come Friday, the team would essentially be starting fresh.

“You’d like to say that it doesn’t matter if you’re 12-3 or 3-12,” Batesole said.

“It matters a little bit, but starting tomorrow it doesn’t. We get a clean slate. Our goal from the beginning was to win that Mountain West Championship ring and that’s still there in front of us.”

Batesole said that facing San Diego State would be the biggest test of the season to this point for Bulldogs.

“This is the biggest one of the year for us,” Batesole said. “We’ve got our pitching lined up. We feel like we’ve made some good adjustments offensively. Defensively, we’ve been hot and cold, but we’ve done some good work this week with a week off.”

Batesole said they intentionally did not schedule any games for the week before conference games started to allow the team to get some extra practice in. He said they have made a lot of progress in that extra time that will help him them going into this weekend series.

The coach said he knows the team has not played up to expectations, but that that is the purpose for the preconference games.

“That’s what your preseason is for. Basically we’ve had 15 practice games to get ready for the big one this Friday. Really the team that gets the most out of those first 15 games is the team that learns the most.”

He said he wishes the team could have been able to learn from winning, but so far that has not been the case.

A major point of contention for Fresno State to this point has been a weak bullpen. Batesole said he plans to clean things up by paring down the regular rotation of relievers to a select few.

“Basically instead of 12 or 13 guys pitching, you’re going to see six guys pitch the rest of the way,” Batesole said.

“That’s standard for conference. That’s what preseason is for, is to give everybody a look and see who’s going to step up for you to win your conference, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. We would’ve liked to have done that and been 12-3, but we’re not.”

Currently, the team is not looking too far ahead in the schedule. Batesole is keeping them focused on this weekend’s series.

“We haven’t seen them (San Diego State) in a while, and that’s really who we’re concerned with right now.”

The three-game series begins tonight at Beiden Field at 6:35.

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