Baseball Preview: vs. Creighton [March 21-23]
First pitch from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha is slated for 4:30 p.m. PT Friday
March 20, 2014
By: Matt Burkholder
Game 23-25: Fresno State Bulldogs (15-7, 5-4 MW) at Creighton Bluejays (9-6-1, 0-0 Big East)
Fresno State Game Notes
Creighton Game Notes
First Pitch: Fri: 4:30pm, Sat: 12pm, Sun: 11am
Stadium: TD Ameritrade Park Omaha
Dimensions: 335 (LF), 408 (CF), 335 (RF)
All-Time Series: Series tied 2-2
Last Meeting: FS defeated CU, 5-1 (2000)
Video: Jay’s Video (subscription required)
Live Stats: GoBulldogs.com
• Fresno State travels to play Creighton at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, the home of the College World Series. The Bulldogs and Bluejays have not squared off since 2000
• Fresno State is projected to use a new rotation while in Omaha
Derick Velazquez (2-1, 1.45 ERA) will receive his first start of 2014 on Friday night
RHP Tim Borst (1-0, 3.38 ERA) is projected for Saturday
RHP Jimmy Lambert (1-2, 4.82 ERA) gets the nod in the finale
• This will be Borst’s first Saturday start and Lambert’s first Sunday start this season
• Creighton’s projected rotation - Friday, RHP Matt Warren (3-0, 3.29).Saturday, RHP Austin Groth (1-1, 3.45)
Sunday, RHP Taylor Elman (1-1, 5.24)
• Jordan Luplow owns an 18-game hitting streak
• Creighton is playing in its inaugural season in the Big East Conference
Fresno State vs. Creighton - The Series
The Bulldogs and Bluejays have met four times in the all-time series history. Fresno State has never traveled to Creighton nor have the two ever paired for a three-game series. Each of the previous meeting came in tournaments, in respective years in Fresno. They split two games 1992 at the Best of the West Classic, and again split a pair of games in 2000 in the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic. The last meeting between the two clubs came on March 11, 2000 when Fresno State took home a 5-1 win in 12 innings.
Creighton is led by 11th year head coach Ed Servais. He is the winningest coach in program history. After leading his Bluejays to a 45-16 record in 2011, Servais was named the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year. The following year, he guided his team back to the NCAA Tournament for a second-straight year.
Offensively, the Bluejays are led by senior Brad McKewon. The Omaha, Neb., native leads the team with a .347 average and 25 hits. He also leads the team with seven doubles and is tied for the team-lead with 12 runs scored. The power in the lineup comes from Mike Gerber. The senior leads the team with four home runs and 18 RBI. Matt Warren has made the transition to Friday night starter the last two weekends and Creighton has been victorious both times. He is 3-0 on the season with a 3.29 ERA. His ERA is the lowest out of all Bluejay pitchers that have made a start this season.
Last Time Out
A defensive battle between the Bulldogs and BYU last time out on March 19 was capped off by an exhilarating relay play at the plate that recorded the final out, allowing Fresno State to hold onto a 2-1 win to close out its seven-game homestand. The Bulldogs executed two successful relays in the game, one from right that won the game and the other from the opposite side that kept the game tied. With two outs in the top of the ninth, the Cougars Brennon Lund, who had just reached on a single, sprinted around the bases on a first pitch hit that Parker Starr sent to right field toward Jordan Luplow. Lund, without hesitation rounded third, but was stopped short at the plate as Taylor Ward blocked the plate. Second baseman Jesse Medrano delivered the perfect throw home as the cut-off man. In the fifth, again with two outs and BYU at the plate, the relay came from left fielder Jake Stone who threw to shortstop Ryan Dobson and fired to Ward to put out the runner at home for the final out of the fifth. One run scored on the play, a RBI double, but the play held the game tied until Fresno State broke through with the go-ahead run in the sixth.
Home Sweet Home
Fresno State has played 15 of its 22 games home at Beiden Field this season and boast an 11-4 record there. Three losses came by way of New Mexico the weekend of March 14-16. The Bulldogs are batting an even .300 from the dish at Beiden Field while the pitching staff owns a 2.80 ERA.
On the flip side, the Bulldogs own a 4-3 record away from home. The offense owns a .272 batting average while the pitching staff’s ERA is 3.14 in seven games on the road.
In Fresno State’s 2-1 win over BYU last time out head coach Mike Batesole went to the bullpen five times. Starter Garrett Mundell worked 2.0 innings, allowing just one hit while striking out four. Furthermore, closer Jake Shull saw work in middle relief and earned the win. Weekend starters Jimmy Lambert and Jordan Brink both saw the mound in their first work in relief of the season. Brink earned the save in his appearance. It was his first career save.
Bulldog Bat Champ
Two time Mountain West Player of the Week Taylor Ward continues to be a consistent force from behind the dish for the Bulldogs. Ward has led the Bulldogs in batting average since March 2. Currently the DH/C owns a .366 batting average, which also ranks No. 2 in MW behind San Diego State’s Ty France who leads the conference with a blistering .446 average. Ward is also the team leader with 22 RBIs (3rd in MW) and is tied for the team lead in hits (30, shared with Chris Mariscal, tied 3rd in MW) and home runs (four, shared with Jordan Luplow, tied for MW lead).
Fresno State has turned a whopping 25 doubles plays thru 22 games, tops in the Mountain West by seven. Second to the Bulldogs’ 25 double plays is UNLV with 18. The ‘Dogs also lead the MW with most DP turned in a single game, four, coming in a 2-1 extra innings loss to Sacramento State. As of the last updated NCAA National Rankings released on March 16, Fresno State ranked No. 1 in country, tied with Arizona with 25 apiece.
Munro’s Gem Ends Skid
Junior Will Munro made his best outing for the Bulldogs right at the right time. Coming off of a three-game sweep against New Mexico, Munro threw a complete-game shutout in a 6-0 win over California of the PAC-12. He allowed just three hits and retired 16 of the last 17 hitters that he faced. After the Bears had a runner reach second in each of the first two innings, they never got anyone past first in the final seven innings.
Pitching Staff Rolling
The Bulldogs own an overall 2.91 team ERA (2nd-MW) and are holding opponents to a .228 batting average (2nd-MW). The Staff has allowed only two home runs all season (1st-MW) and have struck out 142 (T-2nd-MW) on the year. The team has surrendered just 70 walks in 291 innings pitched.
Luplow’s Hitting Streak Reaches 18
Jordan Luplow has quietly pieced together a 18-game hitting streak that starting on Feb. 19 at home against Sacramento State. The junior is now hitting .349 with a team-high eight doubles and is tied for a team-high with four home runs. Earlier in the week, Luplow extended his streak by hitting an opposite-field home run against California. For the season, Luplow is second in total bases in the MW – 51 and in a three-way tie along with teammate Taylor Ward for the most home runs in the MW (4). His batting average ranks fifth in the conference at .349 while his slugging percentage ranks second in MW at .614.
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.
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.