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Sophomore Ryan Jensen pitches against Houston Baptist on Feb. 23, 2018 at Bob Bennett Stadium. (Ram Reyes/ The Collegian)

Diamond ‘Dogs take Houston Baptist series

The Fresno State baseball team faced the Houston Baptist Huskies for the first time in school history in a four-game series from Feb. 23-25 at Bob Bennett Stadium. The Bulldogs took the series 3 games to 1 to give them a 7-2 overall record.

Their next game will be Feb. 28 at home against UC Santa Barbara.

The first game of the series was a pitching duel with Fresno State’s Ryan Jensen going seven innings with nine strikeouts, four hits and no runs allowed. In similar fashion, Houston Baptist starting pitcher Zach Carter went eight innings with eight strikeouts and giving up six hits.

The game went into extra innings with the Bulldogs bringing in Jamison Hill for three innings, allowing only two hits and striking out four. The end of the game came in the top of the 12th when ‘Dogs reliever Ryan Sullivan struggled from the start and allowed two runs.

Fresno State wasn’t able to come back in the bottom of the inning, ending the game and giving the series opener to the Huskies.

In the first game of the Saturday double-header, Fresno State managed to come back from a three-run deficit and tied the game by the fourth inning, 3-3. The Bulldogs manage to pull ahead throughout the rest of the game, edging Houston Baptist in the end, 7-6.

Game 3 in the series began much like Friday’s game with both teams having great pitching. It wasn’t until the fifth inning when second baseman Jeremiah Burks hit a solo home run to center field that opened up the scoring.

In the very next at-bat shortstop, Korby Batesole was hit by a pitch sending him to first base. Next up was catcher Carter Bins, who hit a home run to left field giving the Bulldogs the lead, 3-0.

The game was dominated by ‘Dogs pitcher Edgar Gonzalez who had an outstanding outing, giving up only three hits and striking out 17 in eight innings.

“I just wanted to go out there, just like every single game, and attack every batter who stepped into the box,” Gonzalez said. “I feel so much more comfortable had having two years of experience. There is not a lot I haven’t seen.”

Head coach Mike Batesole mentioned that watching Gonzalez play reminded him of watching former Bulldog pitcher Jeff Weaver.

“[Gonzalez] has exactly the same slider, and it reminded me of the Weaver slider. [Gonzalez] had an outstanding day and did an outstanding job,” Batesole said.

In Game 4, the Huskies took an early lead, scoring one run in the first inning. It wasn’t until the second that Fresno State was able to tie the game after a wild pitch brought in McCarthy Tatum from third base.

Fresno State had great pitching from Jaime Arias, who, after giving up the run in the first, allowed only one more hit in six innings. The Bulldogs’ offense was able to add one run in the fourth, one in the fifth and one more in seventh to give Fresno State a 4-1 lead.

The game ended with Houston Baptist getting one more hit in the top of the ninth, allowing runners to get on base, but pitcher Jamison Hill managed to keep his composure and got the final out of the game.

The Bulldogs took the four-game series with three consecutive wins and an impressive show of pitching power.

“I am really proud of how this young kids are playing…they just keep on doing their thing, and I’m so proud of them,” Batesole said. “I like to stay truly one game at a time and look at what we did wrong and what we need to clean up.”