By Daniel Gligich and Jenna Wilson
A Fresno State baseball ninth-inning walkoff win in the final game of the series against San Diego State University kept the Bulldogs from being swept and allowed the seniors in the lineup to shine.
Coming off of a lone Jesse Medrano hit and 12-0 defeat in the second game of the series in Saturday’s doubleheader, the ‘Dogs had their work cut out for them for Sunday’s showdown against the Aztecs.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Diamond ‘Dogs were down 7-5 after giving up two runs in the top of the inning, and a group of seniors was due up to bat.
“How beautiful was that when I looked up and I saw we were at the top of the order with those four seniors coming up, and they all went out and had great at-bats,” head coach Mike Batesole said.
Every Bulldog in the lineup chalked up a hit on the board in Fresno State’s 8-7 win over SDSU.
Batting leadoff Medrano’s streak continued into Sunday with three hits, including a double and two runs. Senior Austin Guibor had one hit with a sacrifice bunt and one run scored. Senior Scott Silva homered in the third with 2 RBIs, and senior Jake Stone scored the walk-off run after a fielder’s choice. Stone had a .600 on-base percentage with two walks and a hit.
Competition on Sunday saw five Bulldog pitchers with redshirt junior JJ Santa Cruz and sophomore Edgar Gonzalez each giving up three earned Aztec runs. Gonzalez walked five in three innings and etched the most strikeouts out of the bullpen with three.
“There’s all kinds of things you could point to in the last couple days that didn’t go our way. What makes this even sweeter is the seniors fighting through that,” Batesole said. “They did a heck of a job. That was four great at-bats by them in the last inning.”
The doubleheader Saturday was a far different result for the Bulldogs.
Saturday’s first game was an all-too-familiar sight for Fresno State. Ricky Tyler Thomas pitched six innings, giving up only two earned runs, but the bullpen blew another one of Thomas’ starts.
When Batesole took Thomas out after six innings, Fresno State was up 4-2. In the seventh inning, reliever Ryan Jensen came in but allowed two unearned runs, due to defensive woes.
Reliever Fred Schlichtholz came in at the end of the seventh, but gave up the deciding run in the eighth, which put the Aztecs up 5-4.
Thomas was visibly disappointed after the loss, but did not put the blame on the bullpen.
“I feel like I could do better, but it’s just another game,” Thomas said. “Stuff happens.”
He threw 116 pitches, which prevented him from playing farther into the game. He said that he needs to attack the strike zone to get his pitch count down.
The tough end to the first game gave San Diego State the momentum heading into Game 2. The Aztecs pounced early, scoring five runs in the second inning, and followed with two in the third and another one in the fourth en route to their domination.
“Everybody around here is acting like we’re in last place and we haven’t won a game in a month,” Batesole said. “I’m telling you, 90 percent of the teams out there would like to have the last 16 games like ours have gone. And that’s what these kids – they’re fighting some of that too. Some of them individually aren’t doing as good as they expected, but the bottom line is while they’re not, we’re still winning. Wait ‘til it starts going right.”