Alumni game ends in a tie after ‘Dogs celebrate Ray O’Canto

Bulldog Alumni before the game jokes around mocking Major League Baseball cheating scandal by wearing extension cords on him to act as a buzzard on Saturday Jan.25 at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium. (Armando Carreno/The Collegian)

On Ray O’Canto Day, the 2020 Fresno State baseball team battled against former Bulldog players in the annual Alumni game at Pete Beiden Field on Jan. 25. 

Neither team came out on top as the score was tied 4-4 in six short innings. 

The game got off to a quick start as the alumni team was able to load the bases against the Bulldogs starting pitcher, Oscar Carvajal, in the first inning. The ball was then hit to infielder Jeff Jamison who lost the ball and surrendered two runs in the inning. 

The ‘Dogs were unable to score in the bottom of the first, but earned their first hit of the game in the second when infielder Emilio Gonzales launched a ball in the right field for a single. 

Fresno State wouldn’t get on the board until the bottom of the third inning when infielder Matt Ottino scored after Jamison struck a ball in the right field for a triple. 

With runners on first and third base, outfielder Nate Thimjon drove in two more runs with a triple, giving the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead over the alumni squad. They weren’t done scoring yet as a wild pitch helped Thimjon steal home for another run. 

Despite the deficit, the alumni team came out strong in the fifth inning. With a runner on third base, Terrance Frazier drove in a run with an RBI groundout to cut the lead to 4-3.

The alumni team scored again in the inning with a runner on first base, tying the game 4-4. This was the second run of the afternoon for the alumni team against Bulldogs pitcher Jamison Hill. 

After the fifth inning, both teams couldn’t score as it ended in a tie. The Bulldogs closed out the six-inning contest with a total of seven hits. 

Although the game was an exhibition, emotions were still high as the alumni players yelled at Hill to throw a fastball. 

Fresno State head coach Mike Batesole said he loved seeing his old players again.

“This is my favorite day of the year,” Batesole said. “A lot of these guys I only get to see once a year because they have their own families and careers going, and they make the drive here for the weekend. It’s really special to see them together having fun.”

Before the game, a special ceremony was held for former Fresno State Baseball student-athlete and radio broadcaster Ray O’Canto, who passed away at the age of 60 on Sept. 14.

O’Canto’s friends, family members and teammates showed up to hear that the annual Old Timers Classic will now officially be called “The Ray O’Canto Old Timers Game.

The ‘Dogs will return to Pete Beiden Field on Feb. 14 to face the UC Irvine Anteaters for the first game of the season.  

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