May 16, 2013
FRESNO, Calif. --- Bulldogs' freshman catcher Taylor Ward crushed his first-ever walk-off homer in the tenth inning to give the Fresno State baseball team a 2-1 win over the Nevada Wolf Pack on Thursday night at Pete Beiden Field.
Ward, who entered the game in the ninth as a defensive replacement, connected on a 3-2 fastball offering from versus Nevada relief pitcher Adam Whitt while leading off the bottom of the tenth inning for a booming home run over the left field wall.
The win pushed Fresno State (19-31, 12-16 Mountain West) into fourth place in the conference standings and one win away from securing the No. 4 seed for next week's MW Baseball Championship, which will hosted by the Bulldogs at Beiden Field from May 22-26.
Nevada (24-28, 11-17 MW) dropped into fifth place despite a stellar start from the Pack's ace right-hander Brady Shipley, who along with Bulldogs' outfielder Aaron Judge, drew the attendance of nearly 30 Major League Baseball scouts, including at least three top executives, for Thursday's contest.
Shipley dealt 10 strikeouts over seven strong innings, walked just one batter and gave up a lone hit to Fresno State's sophomore shortstop Chris Mariscal.
The 'Dogs countered with left-hander Tyler Linehan, who made his sixth start of the season. The junior tossed four effective frames of scoreless ball while he posted six strikeouts and allowed three hits with no walks.
Fresno State head coach Mike Batesole then turned the game over sophomore right-hander Jordan Brink (4-3) to help set up the pitching rotation for next week's tournament. Brink delivered six innings of one-hit baseball and racked up eight strikeouts to give the Bulldogs' pitching duo 14 combined strikeouts in ten innings of work.
Nevada scored first in the sixth when Brink hit leadoff batter Kyle Hunt, who came around to score on designated hitter Hugo Hernandez's two-out RBI single.
In the tight back-and-forth pitching duel between the two squads that are closing out the regular season with this series and will be pitted again next Wednesday at 7 p.m. PT to open the tournament, the Bulldogs took advantage of Whitt's lead off challenge to Ward, who had never hit a walk-off winner in his baseball career before Thursday night.
Fresno State and Nevada return to action on Friday at 6:35 p.m. PT when the Bulldogs and Wolf Pack meet in game two of the three-game MW series.
"Discover Fresno State Athletics!" --- The flagship radio station of Fresno State baseball is ESPN Radio (940 AM & 790 AM ESPN The Deuce). Follow @FSAthletics on Twitter for live in-game updates of all games during the season.
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