When Aaron Judge is batting in the nine-spot, you know the team is trying everything.
After suffering a sweep in New Mexico this last, the Bulldogs were 8-23 coming into Wednesday’s game against CSU Bakersfield. The Roadrunners ,on the other hand, have been on a roll. They are 25-13 overall this year and 9-3 in Western Athletic Conference play. To contrast, the Bulldogs are 3-10 within their conference, the Mountain West.
Fresno State coach Mike Batesole has been trying whatever he can to save the sinking ship that is the Bulldogs’ season this year. For Wednesday’s game, he shook up the lineup. Usual center fielder Aaron Judge got the night off from the field as the night’s designated hitter and found himself in a new spot in the batting order – ninth – instead of the three-spot that he usually occupies.
Freshman Brody Russell took Judge’s spot in the outfield, while Judge’s normal spot in the batting order went to right fielder Jordan Luplow. The cleanup spot was also home to a new face, freshman catcher Taylor Ward, who gave Austin Wynns the night off.
However, no amount of changes in the world can save a team when its play is sloppy, and that is more of what plagued Fresno State on Wednesday. The Bulldogs fell to the Roadrunners 8-5, with five of Bakersfield’s eight runs being unearned.
The offensive production was slim for Fresno State. They built a three-run lead in the fourth, due in large part to an errant throw to second base by Roadrunners pitcher Chuck Buchanan.
The lead was short lived though.
When the Roadrunners came to the plate the following inning, they put up three runs to tie the game up at three apiece.
Bakersfield added four unearned runs in the top of the seventh after sophomore pitcher Aaron Gillis’ attempted to field a Roadrunner bunt. His throw to second for the first out of the inning was nowhere near its target and soared into center field.
The Roadrunners added an eighth run in the eighth inning for their largest lead of the night, at five runs.
The Bulldogs struck back for two more runs in the bottom of the ninth off a Taylor Tempel single and a two-run homerun for Luplow, his second of the year. It was too little too late though, as Fresno State took its 24th loss of the season — out of 32 games to this point.
Following the game, Batesole entered a closed-door team meeting and declined to comment on the game.
“We played another really good six innings – turned a couple double plays and did a lot of good things,” Batesole said in a release.
“And then we got deep into the game in the seventh inning and we made an error on the mound on a bunt that was huge, that’s an easy out at second base.
“Then, we proceeded to walk a guy, hit a guy and throw a wild pitch. When it comes in bunches like that, like it has been starting in the seventh inning things start to bunch up on us.”
Now, the Bulldogs prepare for five games in three days against Air Force (10-23, 4-9 MWC), with double headers on Friday and Saturday. The first game starts at 3 p.m. at Beiden Field.