Dogs to Play No. 6 San Diego for NCAA Regional Title
June 1, 2008
LONG BEACH, Calif. - The Fresno State baseball team suffered its first loss of the 2008 NCAA baseball championships and will play No. 6 San Diego on Monday at 6 p.m. for the regional title and berth into a Super Regional. The Toreros beat the Bulldogs 15-1.
The win snapped a four-game NCAA tournament winning streak for Fresno State over San Diego dating back to the 2006 Fullerton Regional.
Fresno State, the No. 4 seed of the Long Beach Regional, opened the tournament with impressive wins over the top two seeds, beating No. 11 Long Beach State 7-3 on Friday and then shutout San Diego, the No. 2 seed in the regional, 6-0 Saturday.
The Toreros beat Long Beach State 5-1 in the loser's bracket Sunday afternoon to eliminate the Dirtbags, and the right to play the Bulldogs for the regional title. The teams played for the second time in less than 24 hours on Sunday.
The winner of Monday's game will advance to play No. 3 Arizona State, the winner of the Tempe Regional. The Sun Devils beat Oklahoma Sunday to advance.
The Bulldogs sent Justin Miller to the mound against San Diego. Early in the season, Miller was one of the WAC's premier pitchers with a 6-0 record and 2.30 ERA, leading the league with the lowest ERA a third of the way through the season. The junior from Bakersfield, Calif., had a hard-luck outing against USD, which entered the game with a team batting average of .307.
San Diego's Kyle Blair got the start for the Toreros. Blair entered the game with a 7-4 record and a 4.12 ERA. He held the Dogs to four hits and threw a no-hitter through the first four innings.
"San Diego is the kind of club that never beats themselves," said Batesole. "They play great defense and have great pitching. We saw that today. We were not effective on the mound. When you walk 11 guys and throw 205 pitches, this is what's going to happen. I give a lot of credit to Rich (Hill) and the USD program. They had a big day which started by beating Long Beach State on their field when they had their backs against the wall. They carried that over to tonight. Baseball is a funny game. The worm can turn so quickly. We win 6-0 last night and this happens. We can make it turn just as fast tomorrow night."
San Diego opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. After loading the bases with no outs, the Bulldogs held the Toreros to just one run. Miller got the first out on a sacrifice fly to center that gave the Toreros a 1-0 lead. Catcher Ryan Overland threw-out a Torero attempting to steal third base and then he finished the inning catching a pop foul near screen behind home plate. It marked the first time the Dogs trailed during the Long Beach Regional.
The Toreros added two more runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 3-0 lead when catcher Logan Gelbrich hit a two-run homerun, the first of the regional tournament. USD added two more and took a 5-0 lead after two innings.
Sean Bonesteele replaced Miller in the third inning after the bases were loaded. After walking the first batter he faced to make the score 6-0, he got the next batter to ground out to third baseman Tommy Mendonca to end the inning.
Bonesteele made his 12th appearance of the season, one of those a starting role against nationally-ranked Long Beach State at Blair Field.
The Toreros added three more runs in the fifth inning and push their lead to 9-0.
Danny Muno reached base twice on walks and got Fresno State's first hit, a sharp single to right field in the fifth inning.
Muno, the WAC Freshman of the Year, leads the Dogs with 47 walks this season and moved into ninth place in Bulldog history for most walks drawn in a season. He's tied with Fibber Hirayama (1952) and Brad Bennett (1979) with 47.
Jake Floethe relieved Bonesteele in the fifth inning and retired the side recording two strikeouts in his first inning. A freshman, Floethe appeared in 13 games for the Bulldogs this season and had a 1-1 record.
Fresno State scored its first run in the seventh inning when Tommy Mendonca and Ryan Overland each singled with no outs. Muno slapped a singled to left field, driving in Mendonca from second base, his 22nd RBI of the season.
The Toreros answered with one more run in the seventh to make the score 10-1.
Freshman Gene Escat got his first experience in the NCAA tournament when he entered the game in the eighth inning.
Fresno State has won three consecutive WAC championships and had won eight straight games before Sunday's game.
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 of the Long Beach Regional. Each of the teams were ranked in the top 17 nationally heading into the NCAA tournament.
"We have earned the right to be here and we will be playing for a regional championship," said Batesole. "We've had our backs against the wall for the last eight or nine games, so this is nothing new. Our guys are very resilient. We have some guys in the bullpen who have pitched a lot for us over the last three years in (Jason) Breckley and (Brandon) Burke and they haven't thrown a pitch in this regional. Burke is the all-time saves leader in our program history. We have Holden Sprague going tomorrow, so I like our chance when we put the ball in the hands of any of those guys."
2008 Long Beach Regional Results/Schedule
Saturday, May 31
Sunday, June 1
Monday, June 2
* - Winner advances to Super Regionals vs. No. 3 Arizona State
"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.