After a win Saturday in the team’s season opener, the Fresno State baseball team split a doubleheader against Utah Valley on Monday by losing the first game 4-3 and winning the second game 8-3.
The teams were forced to play the doubleheader on Monday after Sunday’s game was postponed due to rain.
After leading the season opener from start to finish on Saturday, the ‘Dogs fell quickly behind in the second inning of game one on a two-run home run to left field with two outs by UVU right fielder Alexander Marco to give the Wolverines a 2-0 advantage.
In the top of the third, the Wolverines threatened to score again, but Bulldogs relief pitcher Nikoh Mitchell was able to escape the inning with no further damage by stranding runners on loaded bases after inducing a flyout from catcher Drew Simms and striking out designated hitter Nick Madsen.
With momentum now on their side, the Bulldogs bats went to work in the bottom of the inning.
With two outs, Bulldogs star catcher Carter Bins broke the seal with a two-run single to left field to tie the ballgame at 2 apiece, scoring Zach Presno and Miles Tomczak.
Bins then advanced to third on a passed ball and was singled home by shortstop JT Arruda to give Fresno State its first lead, 3-2.
The Wolverines tied the game on an RBI single by Madsen, and the game stayed deadlocked at 3 until the fateful ninth inning.
With the pressure on, Sims broke the tie with a solo home run, and the ‘Dogs were unable to answer in the bottom of the inning as they were retired in order.
In game two, the ‘Dogs’ offense broke through in a big way.
Presno led off the bottom of the third inning with a home run, his first of the season.
Bins then led off the fourth inning with a bloop double down the left field line, and the ‘Dogs were once again threatening.
Arruda followed with a base hit to right field to drive in Bins, and the ‘Dogs finished the inning with a 3-0 lead.
Bulldogs starting pitcher Davis Moore appeared as if he would make those runs stand up. Despite hitting three batters, Moore made his way through five innings without giving up a run.
In the sixth, things started to turn for Moore.
Utah Valley left fielder Jake Berry doubled in the Wolverines’ first run while advancing another runner to third base.
A wild pitch from Moore allowed the runner from third to score to cut the ‘Dogs lead to one.
With an opportunity to escape the inning with no more damage, Moore allowed a single to left field by Marco and the game was all square at 3 after five and a half innings.
Fresno State answered with an RBI single from Presno in the bottom of the seventh, scoring pinch runner Emilio Nogales to push the home team ahead, 4-3.
Center fielder Zach Ashford provided an insurance run when he and first baseman McCarthy Tatum attempted a double steal. Ashford was safe at home and Tatum advanced to second.
Tatum was able to score when pinch hitter Dylan Johnson reached on an error, allowing Tatum to round third and come in to score.
Nolan Dempsey delivered the final blow with a two-run home run in the eighth inning, and Utah Valley was unable to answer in the ninth.
‘Dogs head coach Kevin Batesole was extremely impressed with his team’s relief pitching. Fresno State relievers allowed just one run over 7.2 innings in the two games combined.
“I thought they were outstanding, and they came in and threw strikes and challenged hitters,” Batesole said. “That is the best way to pitch and if you are pumping strikes in there, keep on going.”
The ‘Dogs will be back on the diamond next weekend when they visit San Diego for the annual Tony Gwynn Classic, where they will play, among other teams, No. 25-ranked California State University, Fullerton.
“I am really excited to get out there and see how we handle those tough teams,” Batesole said. “All those wins will be special.”