Bulldogs Beat No. 11 Dirtbags
May 30, 2008
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Mike Batesole predicted good pitching and defense would be seen during Friday's NCAA Tournament opening round game between his Fresno State Bulldogs and the top seeded and 11th-ranked Long Beach State Dirtbags. He was right on.
Fresno State didn't commit an error and allowed just five hits and 3 runs.
And for the second straight year, the Fresno State Bulldogs opened the NCAA tournament with an impressive win over the No. 1 seed on the road. The Bulldogs, in front of a crowd of 1,958 at Blair Field, upset the Dirtbags 7-3. It was Fresno State's second win over Long Beach State in three games this season. The other two games were each decided by one run.
The Bulldogs attacked one of the nation's top pitchers, All-American Andew Liebel, and never trailed the Dirtbags in a win on their home field.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the second inning with two runs. It started when WAC Player of the Year Steve Susdorf was hit by Liebel. He advanced to second base two pitches later on a wild pitch. Two pitches after that, All-WAC first baseman Alan Ahmady doubled past the third baseman into left field allowing Susdorf to score easily from second base.
It was the 80th RBI of the season for one of the nation's hottest hitters. Ahmady has 26 hits in the last 13 games and his 81 RBIs ranks second-most in Fresno State history. Only Lance Shebelut, who had 94 in 1988, had more.
The next batter, Bulldog third baseman Tommy Mendonca, singled to centerfield to bring Ahmady home.
Liebel entered the game with an 8-3 record on the season and a miniscule 1.81 ERA.
In the bottom of the second, the Dirtbags had runners on second and third bases but Wilson struck-out the side to halt a rally threat.
The Bulldogs added another run in the top of third inning to take a 3-0 lead.
Shortstop Danny Muno, the leadoff batter, pulled a single into right field. Centerfielder Gavin Hedstrom hit a sharp single to left field. Wetzel pushed both runners up one base with a sacrifice bunt. The Dirtbags intentionally walked Susdorf to load the bases for Ahmady, who hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield that scored Muno.
The Dogs lost a key player in the bottom of the fourth inning when Mendonca got hurt and left the game. His status for Saturday's game is uncertain. He started his 64th game of the season. Hedstrom took over at third base and freshman Trent Soares entered the lineup in center field. The Dirtbags scored two runs on a two-RBI single with the bases loaded and two out that inning.
Fresno State added another run in the fifth inning with two outs. Erik Wetzel singled to center and advanced to second base when the Dirtbags failed to cover the bag.
Susdorf, Fresno State's all-time RBI king, added to that figure with a double down the right field that brought Wetzel around to score giving the Bulldogs a 4-2 lead. It was the 206th RBI in Susdorf's career and his 27th double of the season, which tied Richie Robnett (2004) for second-most in a single season.
He also moved into third place in Bulldog history for single season RBIs with 76, passing Eddie Zosky, who had 75 in 1988.
Susdorf then added another double to lead off the eighth inning. Ahmady singled moving Susdorf to third base. Soares, making his first appearance since May 24, hit a sacrifice fly for an RBI to left field giving the Bulldogs a 5-2 lead. Ahmady advanced to second base on the out and then to third on a balk. Right fielder Steve Detwiler drilled a double off the right field wall for his 44th RBI of the season that scored Ahmady and finished the game for Liebel. The Bulldogs tagged him for nine hits and seven runs.
Designated hitter Jordan Ribera hit the first pitching after the pitching change to center field that scored Detwiler and gave the Bulldogs a 7-2 lead.
Wilson left after seventh winning, allowing just two runs and three hits with 11 strikeouts, tying his career high. He only allowed three walks in seven innings. Wilson is coming off a solid performance in which he was named to the All-WAC tournament team last weekend in Ruston, La.
"We've seen a lot of good performances by J.W. (Justin Wilson) over the last three years and that was right up there," said Batesole. "In a big game like these, he competed hard and battled. We knew he would. That's in his makeup. He left it all out there until he didn't have anything left in the tank. He always does."
Holden Sprague came in to relieve Wilson.
Long Beach State added one more run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Dogs a 7-3 lead, which proved to be the final score.
Fresno State advances to play No. 17 San Diego, the second seed in the regional, at 6 p.m. Saturday night at Blair Field. San Diego shutout Cal 5-0 in its opening round game. Cal will play Long Beach State in the elimination game at 2 p.m.
Fresno Stare is in the NCAA tournament for the 31st time, a dozen more appearances than any other team in the Long Beach Regional.
The Bulldogs are playing without WAC Pitcher of the Year Tanner Scheppers, who is injured and out for the rest of the season.
The Dogs opened the 2007 NCAA tournament with a 6-2 win over top seed and No. 4-ranked San Diego in the San Diego Regional. Fresno State remains perfect (3-0) under Mike Batesole in opening round NCAA tournament games.
Because the Bulldogs were the visiting team against Long Beach State and San Diego was the home team against California, the Bulldogs will be the designated home team for the game. Batesole has scheduled senior Clayton Allison, the 2008 WAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year, to start the game against the Toreros. San Diego will throw Josh Romanski, who's perfect this season with a 9-0 record and owns a 3.76 ERA.
"San Diego is never going to beat themselves," said Batesole. "They play great defense and have great pitching. It will be a heck of a ball game."
2008 Long Beach Regional Results/Schedule
Saturday, May 31
Sunday, June 1
Monday, June 2
Woodward Returns to KMJ Broadcast Booth
"Join the State - Fresno State!" - The Fresno State baseball team continues play at the 2008 NCAA tournament at the Long Beach Regional. The Fresno State games will be broadcast live in the Valley on KMJ Radio 580 AM. Follow gobulldogs.com for further updates.