After finishing the season as Mountain West regular season champions and winning the MW Tournament for the first time ever, the Fresno State baseball team is officially back in the NCAA Tournament as the field was announced on Monday morning with the Bulldogs being selected as the No. 3 seed in the Stanford Regional.
Fresno State (38-14-1) will open the 2019 NCAA Tournament against No. 2 seed UC Santa Barbara (45-9) on Friday, May 31, at 7 p.m. at Klein Field at Sunken Diamond on ESPN3.
Stanford (41-11), the No. 11 national seed, will be the top seed in the region, while WAC Tournament champion Sacramento State (39-23) claimed the No. 4 seed.
“It is going to take everything for us to have success at this regional,” said Bulldogs head coach Mike Batesole, who will make his seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament while at Fresno State. “We are going to have to pitch right, keep making the routine plays, clutch hits and there is going to have to be a little luck involved, and it is going to take a little bit of everything when you have these caliber of teams in the tournament.”
“It is going to be great to experience a regional, and I am really happy to be in it,” said MW Pitcher of the Year Ryan Jensen. “It will be great for the Red Wave to come and support and have a great crowd for us, and we travel well, which is great to see.”
The Diamond ‘Dogs will make their 35th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and first since 2012, which was also at Stanford.
Overall, Fresno State is 67-74 all-time in postseason history with a 58-66 regional record. This will be the ‘Dogs’ fifth NCAA Regional hosted by Stanford since 1990, joining 1997, 2000 and 2012.
The Bulldogs are 2-0 all-time in postseason play against UCSB, 3-7 against Stanford and have never played Sacramento State in the postseason.
The winner of the four-team Stanford regional advances to the Super Regionals and will face the winner of the Starkville Regional.
Mississippi State (46-13), the No. 6 national seed, is the top seed in the region, followed by No. 2 seed Miami (39-18), No. 3 seed Central Michigan (46-12) and No. 4 seed Southern University (32-22).
As of Week 15, the Bulldogs have become a staple in the national rankings. They made appearances in three polls earning No. 23 rankings in both the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, while Baseball America has the ‘Dogs at No. 21.
Baseball America named the Bulldogs one of the most dangerous lower seeds in the tournament, despite facing the publication’s No. 3 and No. 13 ranked teams (Stanford and UC Santa Barbara, respectively).
MW Tournament Recap:
The Bulldogs continued having their way with opponents as their hot streak in the regular season carried over into tournament play.
Winners of 20 of their last 24 matchups, Fresno State completed a perfect 3-0 run in Reno and earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
After a hard-fought victory in the first round over No. 4 seed Nevada –4-3 victory– the Diamond ‘Dogs found their groove as their bats exploded against UNLV, totaling 23 runs over the course of two games, winning the first matchup 11-1 in seven innings and a 12-6 victory in the championship.
“The whole league was very tough and we knew coming in to the tournament nothing was going to be easy and we were going to have to earn it,” said Batesole.
In addition to their regular season and tournament titles, five Bulldogs earned All-Tournament honor. Junior pitcher Jensen was named the Tournament MVP followed by All-Tournament selections in the senior trio of Nolan Dempsey, McCarthy Tatum and Zach Ashford plus sophomore Nate Thimjon.
Winning their seventh-straight game on Saturday, were lead by Ashford with three hits, including a triple, matching his career high with four runs scored and drawing two walks.
Junior catcher Carter Bins, Tatum, Thimjon and freshman left fielder Jeff Jamison each tallied two hits apiece as the Bulldogs collected five extra-base hits in the game and drew nine walks as a team.
On the mound, the Bulldogs used six pitchers in the contest after only using three through the first two games of the tournament. Redshirt junior right-hander Ryan Sullivan won his second game of the season, despite only facing one batter as his third out to escape the fifth inning that proved to be critical to the ‘Dogs’ win.
The Bulldogs’ pitching staff over 25 innings in the tournament allowed 10 runs, nine earned, and 17 hits, a MW Tournament record.
*Info provided by Fresno State news release