May 23, 2013
By Andrew Rich & @StephenTrembley
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State survived its first elimination game at the 2013 Mountain West Baseball Championship on Thursday with a 6-4 win over Air Force behind a gutsy pitching performance from Tim Borst and Tyler Stirewalt and a big pinch-hit at-bat from senior Austin Wynns.
Borst, a freshman from Moreno Valley, appearing in his first-ever postseason game, threw seven innings and allowed just three runs while scattering 11 hits. Borst pitched his way in and out of trouble in all seven of his innings, leaving 12 Air Force runners on base.
"Give Borst a lot of credit - he pitched on Thursday and on Saturday, and now here he is putting another 120 in, it's a pretty gutsy effort," Fresno State head coach Mike Batesolesaid.
Borst (3-2) got huge defensive plays in the first two innings that helped keep the Falcons off the board. In the top of the first with the bases loaded, freshman left fielder Brody Russell made a diving catch in the left-centerfield gap to prevent at least two runs. Then in the second, with runners at second and third and two outs, first baseman Trent Garrisonmade a diving play into the hole and flipped to Borst to end the threat.
Stirewalt threw two innings of relief to record his first save of the season. He found himself in trouble in both of his frames. In the eighth, he allowed a run on a wild pitch, but with the tying runs in scoring position got Alex Bast to fly out to right to end the threat.
Then in the ninth, Stirewalt loaded the bases and faced Air Force No. 3 hitter Seth Kline, who had been 2-for-4 with two runs batted in prior to his at-bat in the ninth. The junior got Kline to fly out to Aaron Judgein center to seal the win and extend the season.
"We made some big plays when we had to," Batesole said. "We had three great plays with runners in scoring position. I think we cheated them out of probably seven runs in the clutch. Those were great plays not just good plays."
Borst credited his defense for coming through all afternoon.
"We really had the defense working today," Borst said. There were some incredible plays, in left field Russell, and behind the plate Ward, as well as everyone else, everybody did an outstanding job. To have a defense behind you like that it helps a lot, and that's really the reason we won.
Wynns' big at-bat came in the bottom of the seventh. He came on to hit for left-handed hitting Jordan Brink when the Falcons made a move to the bullpen to bring in left-hander Ben Bertelson. Wynns hit a 1-0 pitch from Bertelson into right to drive in Kevin Viersand Judge for insurance runs that proved to be pivotal.
"He was nudging me all day to get in there, and you know he caught twelve last night and he is probably going to catch five in the next few days we hope, so we tried to catch him a little bit of break," Batesole said of Wynns.
The top three hitters in the Bulldog's lineup - Jordan Luplow, Viers and Judge - combined for six hits and scored five of the six runs. Judge launched his 12th home run of the season in the bottom of third.
Fresno State advances to its second elimination when the Bulldogs host fifth-seeded Nevada at 11 a.m. PT on Friday morning with the winner advancing to face third-seeded San Diego State at 3 p.m. PT in another elimination game.
Megan Ferreira contributed to this report.
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