Allison, Bulldogs Shutout No. 6 Toreros
May 31, 2008
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Most college baseball experts agreed the Long Beach Regional was the nation's most difficult of the 16 regions in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Then it's saying something that Fresno State has beaten the top two seeds in the regional and put itself in solid position to advance to a Super Regional.
One night after knocking off the No. 1 seed and host No. 11 Long Beach State by a 7-3 score, Fresno State shutout No. 6 San Diego, the No. 2 seed in the regional, by a score of 6-0.
The Bulldogs did it the "old fashioned" way...they earned it. Fresno State's batters racked up timely hits against two of the nation's top pitchers who had a combined record of 17-3. Veteran pitchers Justin Wilson with a career-high 11 strikeouts against Long Beach State and senior Clayton Allison were masterful. Allison threw the best game of his career, shutting out the Toreros while allowing just five hits in the complete game victory. He only threw 92 pitches in the game, which finished under two hours.
The Dogs have also played stellar defensively and have not committed any errors during the regional.
Fresno State, which was won eight straight games, will play one of the two teams again Sunday at 5 p.m. at Blair Field for the regional title.
In addition to Long Beach State, the champions of the Big West, and San Diego, champions of the West Coast Conference, the University of California completed the four-team field. Each of these teams were ranked in the Top 10 this season and all were in the top 17 nationally heading into the NCAA tournament.
Allison and USD's Josh Romanski hooked up for a good dual over the first three-and-a-half innings.
Allison, a 10-game winner for the Dogs in 2007, entered the game with two wins and a 4.17 ERA. Romanski entered the game with a perfect 9-0 record for the Toreros and a 3.76 ERA.
The only hit during that time was a single by Bulldog shortstop Danny Muno, the leadoff batter, in the bottom of the first inning. Muno's brother, Kevin, is a standout center fielder for the Toreros and was the 2008 West Coast Conference Player of the Year.
Fresno State exploded for four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning with some solid plate appearances by several Bulldogs. Gavin Hedstrom drew a one-out walk. Erik Wetzel placed a beautiful bunt past Romanski for a single. The second baseman threw the ball past first base attempting to get Wetzel, who easily would have been safe on the play. That allowed Hedstrom to advance to third base and Wetzel, always the heady player, raced to second. Romanski then hit WAC Player of the Year Steve Susdorf on his first pitch to load the bases. After getting an out, Romanksi then hit Steve Detwiler in the leg, which allowed Hedstrom to score the game's first run, moved Wetzel to third base and Susdorf to second.
On the very next pitch, third baseman Tommy Mendonca bounced a double, his sixth of the year, off the right field wall to clear the bases and give the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead. Mendonca, Fresno State's homerun leader (14), picked up three RBIs on the play to give him 54 on the season.
Head coach Mike Batesole was pleased to have Mendonca back in the lineup. He left Friday night's game against Long Beach State with an injury and was questionable for the Saturday's game.
"We had a lot of guys step up and play big," said Batesole. "Tommy was one of those guys. Frankly after last night I never expected we would have him back. He's a tough kid and showed it tonight."
Wetzel's run was his 84th of the year, which stands as the fourth-most in a season in Bulldog history. He has scored 190 runs in his career, third-most in Bulldog history, two behind Joe Xavier (1982-85) for second place.
Allison remained perfect on the mound for the Bulldogs until the top of the sixth inning when the Toreros got a couple of singles. Allison kept both runners on base and got Romanski to pop up to Danny Muno to end the inning.
"The eight guys behind me deserve the credit," said Allison. "They made some big plays and really kept the game moving along. When we play defense like that, we feel we can win every time out."
Wetzel doubled, his 16th of the season, to start the bottom of the sixth inning. That allowed Susdorf to add to his Fresno State RBI record when he singled to center field. Wetzel scored giving the Bulldogs a 5-0 lead. It was the 207th RBI of his brilliant career and his 77th of the season. Detwiler moved Susdorf to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Mendonca got his second hit and fourth RBI of the game on a single to left, scoring Susdorf and giving the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead after six innings.
Mendonca proved that his glove was equally important, making several nice defensive plays in the game. The showstopper was a clean grab and perfect throw on a high chopper to end the top of the seventh inning when the Toreros had two runners on base.
The Dogs handed Romanski his first loss of the season and first since February 2007, when he lost to then-No. 4 Texas 6-5. The Dogs have beaten the Toreros in four straight NCAA tournament games dating back to 2006. Under Batesole, the Bulldogs are 6-4 in NCAA tournament games.
Fresno State's Red Wave was in full force at Blair Field as several hundred fans made the trip to Long Beach for the NCAA tournament.
Long Beach State will play San Diego at 1 p.m., with the loser being eliminated and the winner advancing to the regional championship game against the Bulldogs. Since Fresno State has not lost in the regional, they need just one more victory to advance to the Super Regional round.
"This is what we worked for all year," said Batesole. "The 25 guys in that dugout deserve all the credit. Having been here a few times and coming up short, we were hungry and knew what it takes. Against the teams in this regional we knew we would need good pitching, defense and be aggressive at the plate. We've been fortunate to get all three so far. I can't say enough about Clayton Allison. He attacked the mitt like we wanted him to tonight. It was nice to get him some runs because he hasn't gotten that as much this year. If he had, he would have won 10 games again. He's a quality pitcher and competitor."
2008 Long Beach Regional Results/Schedule
Saturday, May 31
Sunday, June 1
Monday, June 2
Lasorda Watches the Bulldogs
"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.