By Andrew Rich & @StephenTrembley
By Andrew Rich & @StephenTrembley
FRESNO, Calif. --- The frustration continues to mount for the Fresno State baseball team after suffering another close loss - this time a second-straight 9-8 heartbreaker to UNLV on Saturday night at Beiden Field.
The Bulldogs scored runs in each of the final four innings, battling from behind most of the night, but it wasn't enough as the 'Dogs have now lost by a single run in three of their last four games.
"This has happened three times inside of a week, that's really tough to take in," Fresno State head coach Mike Batesole said. Last night was one of the toughest ones in the last three or four years for me, it was a gut chucker and this one wasn't much different. When you battle back and you come back and you go right back and you give it right back, you battle back and you give up a homerun to the first hitter - That's tough to take in."
Aaron Judge got the scoring started for Fresno State in the sixth when he launched a no-doubt blast over the fence in left to bring the Bulldogs' early deficit down to 3-1. Trent Garrison followed that with a single and scored on an Austin Wynns double to make it 3-2.
In the seventh, the `Dogs executed a perfect double steal when Jake Alvarez stole second and Taylor Tempel broke for the plate on the throw to score and tie the game. Chris Mariscal put the `Dogs ahead with a RBI single to right to score Alvarez. After Jordan Brink was hit by a pitch, Judge hit a towering fly ball down the right field line and Alvarez tagged up and went to third, but the throw in to second glanced off the glove of Rebel second baseman Matt McCallister, which allowed Alvarez to score and extend the `Dogs lead to 5-3.
UNLV (22-8, 7-4 Mountain West) scored three in the eighth to regain a 6-5 lead, but the never-say-die 'Dogs once again fought back.
Fresno State (7-20, 2-7 MW) loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the eighth and Jordan Luplow was able to drive a fly ball deep enough to right field off of Rebels closer Andrew Beresford for a sacrifice fly to score Wynns and tie the game at 6-6.
But the ninth inning again proved to be costly as for the second night in-a-row, the 'Dogs gave up three UNLV runs. The last run, and most important as it turned out to be, scored on a rare balk call on Fresno State reliever Garrett Mundell.
The 'Dogs had one last rally in them.
Brody Russell led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to right and advanced all the way to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch. Then Judge crushed a high chopper to short and Rebels shortstop T.J. White threw the ball away at first, allowing Russell to score and Judge to move up to second after his infield single. With the 'Dogs down 9-7, Wynns drove in his second run of the game with a single to right to score Judge and make it 9-8.
When it looked like the rally would continue with another hit, this one off the bat of Kevin Viers, UNLV centerfielder Mark Shannon came flying in to make a diving play on Viers' sinking liner for the second out of the frame. Tempel, however, grounded out to shortstop to end the rally and the ballgame.
Lost in the chaotic last four innings was the strong starting pitching from Blake Quinn. The freshman from Fresno threw six innings, giving up five hits and just three runs.
The Bulldogs' offensive performance, that featured 14 hits, was led by Wynns' three-hit, two RBI night and Judge's 2-for-5 effort that was highlighted by his mammoth home run - the fifth this season by the junior centerfielder.
Fresno State and UNLV will close the MW series back at Beiden on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. PT.
"Discover Fresno State Athletics!" --- The flagship radio station of Fresno State baseball is 940 AM ESPN Radio. Follow @FSAthletics on Twitter for live in-game updates of all games during the season.
Amy Jennings also contributed to this report.
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