Feb. 13, 2014
Games 1-3: Fresno State Bulldogs at UC Irvine Anteaters
First Pitch: Fri: 6:30 pm, Sat: 1 pm, Sun: 1 pm
Stadium: Anteater Ballpark
Dimensions: 335 (LF), 405 (CF), 335 (RF)
All-Time Series: Fresno State leads 29-9
Last Meeting: UCI defeated FS, 12-6 (2011)
Radio: AM 940 ESPN
Talent: Play-by-Play: Paul Loeffler
Live Stats: GoBulldogs.com
Fresno State vs. UC Irvine - The Series
Despite a dominate 29-9 Fresno State series lead over UC Irvine, the Anteaters have reeled off four-straight wins against the 'Dogs in recent history. The last time the two squared off was at historic Jackie Robinson Stadium in the Los Angeles Regional on June 3, 2011 - the Anteaters gave the 'Dogs their first loss in the double-elimination tournament with a 12-6 win. The two teams have faced off just eight times since the turn of the century and the last three-game series between the two was in 1992, the last season Fresno State shared conference affiliation with UC Irvine in the Big West.
Scouting UC Irvine
The Anteaters return 20 letterwinners from their 2013 team, including preseason All-Americans, senior Andrew Morales, junior Taylor Sparks and junior Connor Spencer. Morales returns following a junior campaign where he led all pitchers on the team with a 1.89 ERA and a 10-0 record, becoming the first Anteater pitcher to finish a season with an undefeated record. Also returning to the team is Spencer, who won the Big West batting title last season (.373 BA) while the bat of Sparks returns that produced 10 home runs. The Anteaters were ranked nationally throughout most of the 2013 season, with the highest ranking of No. 19 (April 29). UC Irvine is led by seventh-year coach Mike Gillespie, the skipper is four wins shy of reaching 1,000 Division I career wins. He ranks No. 16 among active Division I coaches for most wins.
Junior Jordan Brink enters 2014 as the preseason favorite to be the `Dogs leader from the mound. Brink, who was used as a utility player a season ago, turned all his focus to pitching over the offseason and it looks to pay high dividends. The junior has received preseason rankings from Baseball America - No. 25 collegiate pitching prospect, and an MLB draft prospect ranking of No. 55 among all active eligible players by Perfect Game. As a sophomore Brink led the team with 65 strikeouts in 59.2 innings pitched all while leading the team in triples (5) using his bat. Brink was a two-time MW Pitcher of the Week a season ago, the first honor followed his first career complete game to go along with a career-best 12 strikeouts. He allowed just two earned runs without walking a batter over the nine innings as he led the `Dogs to a 5-3 win against Air Force on April 21. At the plate Brink finished that series 8-for-13 (.615) with two doubles, three triples, seven RBIs, three runs scored and a 1.231 slugging percentage to go along with his complete-game win. His second MW award came after he led the Bulldogs in relief to a 2-1 victory in 10 innings against Nevada on May 16. Brink entered in the fifth and struck out eight Wolf Pack batters in 6.0 innings of work to close the game for the `Dogs, including a ninth inning were he struck out the side. He allowed just one hit, one walk and one run in the extra inning win.
Diamond 'Dogs Picked Fourth in Mountain West
The Mountain West announced its annual preseason coaches' poll on Feb. 11 and the Bulldog baseball team was picked to finish fourth for the second consecutive season. The 'Dogs received 25 points as voted upon by league coaches and trail preseason favorites New Mexico and 2013 MW champion San Diego State. The Lobos and Aztecs each received 43 points and three first-place points apiece for a deadlock at the top spot. UNLV picked up 40 points and one first-place vote and are predicted to finish third while Nevada (fifth, 18), Air Force (sixth, 14) and San Jose State (seventh, 12) are all behind Fresno State.
Parody of Thought
The `Dogs may have been pegged fourth in the MW preseason coaches' poll, but the folks at Perfect Game think otherwise. In Perfect Game's MW preview release on Feb. 9 Fresno State was picked to finish first in its poll. In another contrasting view, the organization selected Jordan Brink and Jordan Luplow to its All-MW preseason team.
Impact Freshman on the Horizon
The staff at College Sports Madness announced Feb. 7 that Jimmy Lambert was its Mountain West Preseason Freshman of the Year and one same day Baseball America tabbed Jesse Medrano as its MW Preseason Freshman of the Year.
Lambert, a freshman pitcher from San Dimas High School, enters his first season with the Bulldogs following a senior season where he finished with a 13-1 record, 1.18 ERA with 80 strikeouts against 16 walks in 94.2 innings pitched. He was named MaxPreps Medium School Second-Team All-State, a Cal-Hi Sports Southern Section All Division IV team selection, First-Team San Gabriel Valley Tribune All-Area and a back-to-back First-Team All-Valle Vista pitcher as selected by league coaches.
Medrano enters his first year at Fresno State coming from Clayton Valley Charter High School (Concord, Calif.) where he was a four-year letterwinner. Medrano was named the Diablo Valley Athletic League MVP, a MaxPreps Medium School Second-Team All-State selection and to the Contra Costa Times All-East Bay team his senior season. He owned a .392 batting average and produced 38 hits, 27 RBIs, 25 runs, nine doubles and two home runs with 97 at bats.
Speaking of Impact Freshman
The reigning Mountain West Co-Freshman Pitcher of the Year, Blake Quinn, returns for his sophomore season after leading the MW in conference play with a 2.15 ERA last season. He was later named the 12th Freshman All-American in program history and the fourth pitcher to receive the honor at Fresno State, as selected by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Quinn started eight games as a freshman, appeared 14 times, and led the `Dogs with a 3.02 ERA in 2013. He was also a second-team All-MW selection following his freshman campaign.
The Fresno State baseball program saw 18 of its players from the 2013 roster take part in summer baseball in leagues across the country. Five players from that group started their professional careers in the lower levels of their respective team's farm system. Jordan Luplow, Chris Mariscal and Trent Woodward traveled across the country to play in the Cape Cod League, known as the most prestigious collegiate summer league in the nation. Jake Alvarez, Garrett Mundell, Brody Russell, Taylor Tempel, Kevin Viers and Taylor Ward made the trek to the Alaska Baseball League while William Munro found a home playing on the outskirts of Chicago in the Suburban Chicago Baseball League.
"Catch the Wave" - 2014 Fresno State baseball season tickets are now on sale and can be ordered online at gobulldogs.com or over the phone at 559-278-DOGS (3647). The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.
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