Bulldogs take series on opening weekend

Bryan Cole / The Collegian
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Wash 11
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Fans pack Beiden to watch ’08 champs

A National Championship sign was unveiled. A College World Series (CWS) 
flag was raised. New signs appeared under the press box. Six 2008 CWS heroes threw out ceremonial first pitches, and for the first time in 15 years, a maximum capacity crowd of 3,825 fans came out to support the Fresno State baseball team in its season opener.

“The electricity in the ball park on opening night was something 
special,” coach Mike Batesole said. “When the crowd got loud, you could hear an echo from a distance.”

A total of 8,811 fans attended Pete Beiden Field over the weekend to witness the No. 16 Bulldogs take two of three games over the Pac-10’s Washington Huskies to start the season 2-1.

Former Diamond ’Dogs Justin Wilson, Justin Miller, Erik Wetzel, Steve 
Susdorf, Brandon Burke and Clayton Allison watched Fresno State’s ace Holden Sprague pitch six strong innings in the thrilling first game of the series.

“Sprague held it together Friday night,” Batesole said. “He was 
efficient and it was great to see him not walk anyone.”

Sprague tied his career high of six strikeouts allowing one run on six hits over six innings of work.

‘Climactic’ opener

The game was tight early, as both starting pitchers took control of the 
game. First baseman Jake Johnson started his strong weekend offensively with a single driving in two runs giving the Bulldogs its
first lead of the night, but the Huskies would answer back in the 
eighth inning with two runs to tie the game 3-3. 

Bulldog freshman Dusty Robinson, who was third in the nation in home runs hit during his senior year in high school, delivered a blast in
 the bottom of the eighth inning with a home run to dead center to put Fresno State back on top 4-3.

With two outs in the top of the ninth, the Fresno faithful 
stood up waving their towels in anticipation of a win.

But the Huskies would quiet the crowd quickly with a home run to tie the game again. 

Finally, in the bottom of the ninth, Johnson hit a double to lead off the inning, and eventually score the winning run on a wild pitch as the Bulldogs won game one 5-4.

Sprague says opening night was like a roller coaster.

“We would take the lead, then they would tie it, and the ending was climatic,” Sprague said. “But all that matters is that it ended in 
a ‘W’ for us.” 

Huskies pounce in second game

In game two, it was a different story. Over the first eight innings, the Washington pitching staff held the Bulldogs to two hits and a single run, as the Huskies were in control from the start.

Bryan Cole / The Collegian

Washington jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the third inning, and basically put the game away by the fourth adding five more runs, three of 
which were unearned. 

Starting pitcher Sean Bonesteele got the nod in game two, but only 
lasted 3 1/3 innings. 

Fresno State’s bats weren’t able to put anything together all game until the ninth inning, and fell short dropping game two 11-4.

Coming into the season, the pitching staff was the biggest concern for Batesole and his team, and in game two the Huskies staff dominated.

“We got out pitched and outplayed,” Batesole said. “You have to give their starting pitcher credit. The lefty located his pitches, but our
 young club will learn to adjust.”

The youth of Bulldog baseball was present over the weekend as six 
freshmen made their first appearances. 

‘Dogs end the weekend on top

In the final game against the Huskies, starting pitcher Jake Floethe set the tone for the Bulldogs. Floethe’s performance was nearly a mirror image of what Sprague did in game one of the series.

Floethe gave up six hits in six innings of work, but didn’t allow a run, as the theme of game three was runners left on base.

Washington left seven runners stranded while Fresno State left 12. But it would take just one big hit to win game three for the Bulldogs.

And that hit came in the bottom of the seventh inning with the game tied at one.

Third baseman Tom Mendonca delivered a single to bring in two runs, and that would be enough, as the Bulldogs went on to win game three, 3-1.

Sophomore shortstop Danny Muno had a big weekend and showed why he was chosen as a preseason All-WAC player. After three games, Muno leads the team in average (.500), slugging percentage (.600), on base percentage (.643), runs (2) and hits with five.

Alan Ahmady, who led the Bulldogs in batting average last year, was missing in action over the weekend, and will miss two more games due to a violation of athletic department policy.

The Bulldogs’ next game is Tuesday, at home against Cal Poly, at 6:05 p.m.

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