March 6, 2014
By: Matt Burkholder
Games 13-15: No. 24 Fresno State Bulldogs (9-3, 3-0 MW) at Air Force Falcons (3-6, 0-3 MW)
First Pitch: Sat DH - Gm1: 11:30am PT, Gm2: TBA, Sun: 11am PT
Stadium: Falcon Field
Surface: Sport Turf
Dimensions: 349 (LF), 400 (CF), 316 (RF)
All-Time Series: Fresno State leads 10-3
Last Meeting: FS defeated AF, 6-4 (2013)
Video: Mountain West Network
Live Stats: GoBulldogs.com
Fresno State travels to Air Force (March 7-9) for its second MW conference series of the season and first road series since opening the year at UC Irvine (Feb. 14-16).
The Bulldogs are ranked for the first time since 2011.
Fresno State swept the Mountain West Weekly conference awards as RHP Tim Borst and C/DH Taylor Ward were named MW Pitcher & Player of the Week, respectively.
Ward was named MW Player of the Week for the second consecutive week for games played Feb. 17-23 & Feb. 24-Mar 3.
Friday night ace, Jordan Brink, owns a 0.42 ERA in 21.2 IP. He leads the team with 15 strikeouts and in innings pitched.
Fresno State has swept its last two three-game series, with the last coming against then-ranked No. 18 Texas A&M, preceded by conference foe Nevada.
Air Force (3-6, 0-3 MW) is playing at home for the first time this season.
Fresno State vs. Air Force - The Series
Up until last season when Fresno State joined the Mountain West, the Bulldogs had played Air Force just six times. The two shared conference affiliation in the WAC in the 1990's and played one three-game series in 1997 and one in 1999. In 2013, as conference foe again, Fresno State was scheduled a home and away series vs AFA, and met again in the MW conference tournament. Due to snowy conditions in Colorado Springs, the two played only one ballgame that Air Force won 14-7. For the Falcons return trip to Fresno they played a rare five-game series over three days. The Bulldogs swept all five games and were victorious once more in the MW tournament, 6-4. Fresno State owns a 10-3 all-time series lead over the Air Force Academy.
Scouting Air Force
The Falcons are led by fourth-year head coach Mike Kazlausky. An Air Force Academy graduate, Kazlausky has recorded a 51-120 record during his time at the helm of the program. He was an assistant for six years at Air Force before taking over in 2011 and becoming the first military coach the school had since 1988.
Air Force currently fields the youngest team in the Mountain West and one of the youngest in the country. They have 14 freshman, which is tied for the most in the conference with the Bulldogs and San Jose State. In addition to the 14 freshman on the roster, at least four of them have started in every game this season and five have started in a game four times.
Offensively, the Falcons are led by Seth Kline. One of three seniors on the roster, Kline leads the team with eight hits and is tied for the team lead with three doubles. Air Force is hitting just .213 as a team in their first nine games. The pitching staff is led by Friday starter Cameron White. The senior has an 18-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has thrown the team's lone complete game this season.
Last Time Out
Of the Bulldogs three losses of the 2014 season, two of three have come from the Sacramento State Hornets. On Wednesday night (March 5), the Hornets snapped the Bulldogs' six-game win streak with an extra inning 2-1 win at Raley Field - home of the triple-A affiliate Sacramento River Cats. The Bulldogs managed to plate the games first run in the top of the eighth, only to be countered in the bottom half of the inning. Sacramento State needed just three batters in the 10th inning to produce the game winning run. Ironically, Fresno State started its win streak following its loss to the Hornets on Feb. 19. The `Dogs are 1-2 in midweek games.
Fresno State Sweeps Mountain West Weekly Awards
On Monday, March 3 the Mountain West selected sophomore catcher/designated hitter Taylor Ward as its MW Baseball Player of the Week for the second consecutive week, while sophomore Tim Borstwas named Pitcher of the Week for games played from Feb. 24-March 2, 2014.
Against the then-ranked No. 18 Texas A&M Aggies, Taylor Wardprovided a walk-off RBI double in the Sunday series finale to give the Bulldogs a three-game sweep of the Aggies. Ward went 3-for-4 in Sunday's game, recording half of the team's hits and drove in the lone run for the 1-0 win.
Borst was responsible for putting Fresno State in position to win the finale versus A&M as he threw a career-high eight innings of shutout baseball to keep the Aggies scoreless into the ninth inning. He also recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts in the effort against zero walks.
Fresno State Gains National Attention
Following a weekend sweep of then-ranked No. 18 Texas A&M the Fresno State baseball team garnered national attention Monday, March 3 by receiving Top 25 votes in three different polls. The Bulldogs came in at No. 24 in both the Baseball America and Perfect Game polls. They were tabbed No. 25 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll, and received votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and USA Today polls, respectively. The last time the Bulldogs were ranked in any one of the major collegiate baseball polls was in 2011, a season that the `Dogs started 11-1 through their first 12 games and finished 40-16 overall.
Junior Jordan Brinkis one of 43 players in Division-I baseball to have recorded three quality starts through his first three games of the season. Brink is leading the Bulldogs as their Friday night ace with a 0.42 ERA in 21.2 IP. He has allowed just one run in three starts with the first coming in the ninth inning of game two. Brink also leads the team in strikeouts with 15.
Two is Better than One
Fresno State has turned a whopping 19 doubles plays thru 12 games, tops in the Mountain West by nine. Second to the Bulldogs' 19 double plays is UNLV at 10, followed by New Mexico, San Diego State and Nevada all with eight apiece. As of the last updated NCAA National Rankings on March 2, Fresno State ranked fifth in the country with 15 double plays through its first in 11 games.
Lack of Production In Three Losses
In the Bulldogs three losses, the offense has been able to produce only five runs in those 27 innings while the pitching staff allowed just nine. Fresno State's three losses are 1-0, 6-4 and 2-1. In those three games the pitching staff owns a 2.42 ERA, and when excluding the six-run outburst, the second loss, the staff has a 0.53 ERA.
The Catcher Combo
A significant contribution to the Bulldogs offense this season can be directly attributed to the one-two punch of Trent Woodward and Taylor Ward. The two catchers alternate between the DH position and have combined to hit .375 (33-for-88) for 16 runs, 20 RBIs, five doubles and one home run. Woodward and Ward rank one-two in hits and RBIs individually on the team while they are also the only two batting above .300.
Perfect in the Mountain West
The Bulldogs will look to stay perfect in the Mountain West as they take their 3-0 MW record to Falcon Field to face Air Force. In what was the earliest conference pairing for the Bulldogs in the Mike Batesoleera, Fresno State swept Nevada three games to zero in Fresno in games 6-8 of the season. Fresno State defeated Nevada 4-1, 5-3 and 11-9 in the series finale. Sunday's finale produced the most offense the 'Dogs have scored through 12 games, however, the `Dogs also surrendered the most runs to an opponent in the same contest.
Ward Selected MW Player of the Week
The Mountain West announced Monday, Feb. 24, sophomore catcher/designated hitter Taylor Wardearned Mountain West Baseball Player of the Week honors for games played from Feb. 17-23. For the week, Ward had at least one RBI and one hit in each of the Bulldogs five games during the stretch. Ward averaged a .389 batting average with seven hits, four runs scored and eight RBIs. In addition, he hit his first home run of the season and finished the week with a .611 slugging percentage. The Bulldogs owned a 4-1 record, including a 3-0 Mountain West series sweep of Nevada to kick off conference play during that stretch.
The entire 34-man, 2014 Fresno State baseball roster is made up of all student-athletes from the state of California. Of the 24 Division-I baseball programs in the Golden State, five other schools can share the same distinction with the Bulldogs - Cal Poly (Big West), UC Davis (Big West), UC Irvine (Big West), UC Riverside (Big West) and San Diego State (Mountain West).
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|