Judge, Luplow help Fresno State avoid season sweep.
Tuesday was their last chance.
After three previous attempts, the Bulldogs played their fourth and final game of the season against the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners.
Fresno State won 7-4.
They may only be separated by two hours of highway, but their records could not be more different. At 14-27, the Bulldogs have struggled all year, never quite able to right the ship. While at 29-16, the Roadrunners have been on fire this year, though playing what some might consider a weaker schedule due to their Western Athletic Conference ties.
This was the Bulldogs’ last shot, and they made the most of it.
It seemed that the fourth time was the charm for Fresno State as the Bulldogs took the lead in the bottom of the first.
After a single from Aaron Judge scored Kevin Viers from first base and a double from Jordan Luplow brought Judge home, Fresno State led early 2-1.
They would add some cushion in the third due to an RBI triple from Viers, a sacrifice fly from Luplow and a two-RBI double from Trent Garrison to make it a 6-1 ball game.
The offensive production did not stop Fresno State’s midweek-game tradition of the parade of pitchers, using three by the fifth inning. Jake Shull got the start, but came out after 2 2/3 in favor of Luke Wiechec. He went a scoreless 1 1/3, before he gave way to Garret Mundell in the fifth. They would use six pitchers in total to finish the evening.
Judge grabbed his second RBI of the night in the fourth inning, bringing home Brody Russell to make it 7-1.
That would be all for Fresno State, but it would be enough.
CSU Bakersfield scored one in the seventh off a homerun from second baseman Oscar Sanay — the first of his career.
Things got a little shaky for Fresno State in the ninth when Tyler Stirewalt — the fifth Bulldog pitcher of the evening — hit Sanay and walked center fielder Jordie Hein to lead off the inning. Both would go on to score later in the inning off a single from third baseman Mylz Jones to bring the Roadrunners within three runs, but they would get no closer as Fresno State held on for the win.
Coach Mike Batesole said he was pleased with what he saw Tuesday night.
“That was a well-played game right there. The pitchers were efficient. They pitched smart,” Batesole said.
“That’s what it take to beat a first-place team, and that’s a first-place team right there.”
This was Fresno State’s first midweek win since its April 2 win over Pacific. It was only the program’s third midweek win of the season.
Batesole said he has not given up on post-season play yet. He said he thinks of the season in 10-game blocks. In the team’s last 10 games, they have gone 7-3, a marked improvement from earlier in the year.
“This isn’t football nobody goes undefeated,” Batesole said. “If you go 6-4 every 10 games, you’re cake walking to a regional. You might even be hosting one.”
This weekend, the Bulldogs (15-27, 9-12 MWC) hope to keep their momentum as they hit the road for the last time in the regular season.
They are traveling to Las Vegas to take on the UNLV Rebels (28-16, 11-10 MWC) in a three-game series.