Feb. 20, 2014
By: Matt Burkholder
First Pitch: Fri: 6:35pm, Sat: 2:05pm, Sun: 1:05pm
Stadium: Beiden Field
Dimensions: 330 (LF), 400 (CF), 330 (RF)
All-Time Series: Fresno State leads 89-50
Last Meeting: FS defeated NEV, 10-1 (2013)
Radio: AM 940 ESPN
Talent: Paul Loeffler (play-by-play, Fri. & Sun.)
Donny Baarns (PxP Sat, analyst Fri. & Sun.)
Video: Mountain West Network (Fri. & Sun.)
Live Stats: GoBulldogs.com
Fresno State vs. Nevada - The Series
The Bulldogs and Wolf Pack have a long history together, playing a total of 142 games against each other. It is the fourth longest rivalry Fresno State has behind San Jose State, Cal Poly and Sacramento State. As the two newest members of the Mountain West after both departing the WAC following the 2012 season, the two rivals kicked things off as MW foe with eight pairings in 2013. Fresno State captured five of those eight meetings. On March 28-30, Fresno State traveled to Reno, dropped two of three, but rebounded on the return trip at home with a three-game sweep to close the regular season, May 16-18. Fresno State played host to the MW conference tournament and found themselves matched up with its longtime rival in the first game of the tournament. The 'Dogs lost that game in 12 innings, 4-3. After being sent to the losers' bracket, the Bulldogs beat Air Force to earn a rematch with Nevada and sent the Wolf Pack home with a 10-1 win. Fresno State and Nevada shared conference affiliation in the WAC from 2000-12.
For the first time in 31 years the Wolf Pack will be led by a new skipper as long time head coach Gary Powers retired after the 2013 season. On July 1 , 2013 Jay Johnson was named the newest head coach at Nevada. Johnson goes to Reno after serving as the associate head coach at the University of San Diego for the past eight years. He owns one year of head coaching experience as the skipper of the Point Loma Nazarene Sea Lions in 2005. The Sea Lions went 37-16 during his one-year tenure and were ranked as high as No. 6 in the NAIA rankings.
Johnson inherited 17 letterwinners from the 2013 squad that went 25-32 overall and 11-19 in the MW. The 17 returners are joined by 13 newcomers. Six returning starting position players are back along with a lone returning starting pitcher in lefty Tyler Wells.
Junior first baseman Austin Byler is anticipated to be the leader of the Wolf Pack offense. Byler hit .346 with 35 runs scored, 10 doubles, three triples, eight home runs and 40 RBI his sophomore season. Byler is making the transition to first base from third base in 2014, just as Bulldog Kevin Viers. Byler was named to the All-Mountain West preseason team as well as the College Sports Madness All-MW preseason team.
A Sublime SoCal Weekend
The 'Dogs won their season opening series 2-1 on the road against UC Irvine, it marks the sixth consecutive year Fresno State has won its season opening series while it is also the second time in the last three years they have shut their opponent out in the Friday night opener. Starter Jordan Brink pitched six and one-third innings, allowed no runs and just one hit while striking out six as the Friday night ace. Behind the plate Taylor Ward came up clutch on back-to-back nights, sparking the 10th inning score on Friday with a lead-off double that led to the game's first run scored to spark the Bulldogs to a 2-0 win in 10 innings. Saturday, Ward knocked home the game-winning RBI in the 13th inning en route to an 8-7 win. In the series finale, the Bulldogs were edged out 1-0 in another pitching duel. UC Irvine was able to push one across the plate in the sixth that turned out to be just enough to keep Fresno State from earning the series sweep.
Dogs Split Pair of Midweek Games at Beiden Field Against WAC Opponents
Fresno State hosted its home opener Tuesday, Feb. 18 versus Grand Canyon and squared off against Sacramento State the following day. It was all smiles Tuesday as a combination of success behind the plate and at the mound led to a 10-1 win over Grand Canyon. Junior RHP Garrett Mundell tossed six strikeouts in 3.0 IP of work while Connor Chase and Jake Shull worked the remaining of the game. Chase picked up his first collegiate win in 4.0 innings at the mound in middle relief. Offensively, two big innings propelled the 'Dogs, scoring four runs in the third and five in the fifth to run away from the Antelopes. The next day Blake Quinn got off to a shaky start, allowing six runs on eight hits in 5.0 innings, and the 'Dogs could not overcome the deficit. Sacramento State opened up a 3-0 lead in the third and would not trail from that on in the game.
William Munro Named College Sports Madness MW Player of the Week
Fresno State found themselves in extra innings for the second consecutive day on Saturday at UC Irvine and relied upon the steady arm of Munro to lead them to the 8-7 victory in 13 innings. The junior RHP from San Marcos, Calif. entered in the bottom of the ninth and held strong through the rest of the contest. He held the Anteaters to three hits and one run while striking out four against one walk. Most impressive, Munro mowed through the lineup in order, 1-2-3, the first three innings in relief.
Taylor Ward Comes Through in the Clutch
Through the first five games sophomore Taylor Ward is making quite impact to the Bulldogs' offense. With a minimum of 15 at bats, Ward leads the team with a .364 batting average along with a team-best eight hits and six RBIs. He also registered his first home run, fourth career, Wednesday against Sacramento State. But where he really shined was in Friday and Saturday's games at UC Irvine. Ward opened the season 2-for-4 on Friday night and sparked the opening night win with a lead-off 10th inning double down the left side on a 1-2 count. His pinch runner, Ryan Dobson, scored the game's first run and would lead to the extra inning win. The following Saturday, Ward came through in the clutch again in extra innings, this time in the top of the 13th against two outs. He singled to center field for the game-winning RBI, driving home the go ahead run from third base. Ward also played all 13 innings as the 'Dogs catcher in Saturday's win. Ward has made three starts at DH and two as the catcher.
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.
"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.
|Email this article||Printer-friendly format|