Pitching has been the Achilles’ heel for the Bulldogs all season, but Fresno State baseball is starting to turn things around — little by little.
Fresno State pitching coach Steve Rousey said that what has been hurting the pitching staff has been their lack of experience.
“They’re young and they’re growing up,” Rousey said. “It’s really that simple.”
“Certainly the talent’s there,” Rousey said. “But you’re talking about a staff that returns what — 160 to 180 innings of Division I baseball? We’re pitching against guys that have twice that much all by themselves.”
He said that the goal has been to accelerate the maturation of this young staff to help them reach the level of their competitors and, at this point in the season, it is slowly starting to work.
“When you get banged around a little bit, the impact of your experiences tends to be twice or three fold what it might otherwise be,” Rousy said. “If we can parlay that it to success like we have in recent outings, then that’ll bode well for the team.”
The team has seen marked improvements from key sources like right-handed junior college transfer Derick Velazquez and the veteran of the staff, junior lefty Tyler Linehan.
Velazquez has had an up and down season that as of recently has been going up. In his last outing, on March 29, he held Nevada scoreless through 7 1/3 innings to help the Bulldogs get their only win in the series.
For Linehan, the season started off shakily to say the least, but after numerous bad outings, he has started turn it around.
On March 15, he pitched a complete game shut out against San Diego State, an outing that earned him Mountain West Pitcher of the Week for the week of March 11-17.
His ERA is now under 10 (7.71), something he could not say earlier in the season, when it flirted with 20.
Rousey said that Linehan has been on a rollercoaster this season, bouncing between a role as a reliever and a starter.
“What he’s got to understand is that he bears a little bit more of a burden this year, being the oldest guy on the pitching staff, “ Rousey said.
“I think that trying harder is not the answer for him and he’s learning that. Just go be yourself, and we’ve seen that in recent outings out of him.”
The Bulldogs (7-18, 2-5 MWC) will play a three-game in conference series against UNLV (20-8, 5-4 MWC) this weekend.
The Rebels posses the best record in the Mountain West so far, but are in second place in the conference standings. They are coming off of a three-game series sweep over Air Force at home, a team the Bulldogs lost to on their last road trip in the one game they played.
The Rebels are 6-4 on the road this season and sport the Mountain West’s best team ERA at 3.38.