By: Matt Burkholder
Games 43-45: Air Force Falcons (15-25, 5-13 MW) at Fresno State Bulldogs (21-21, 8-13 MW)
First Pitch: Sat: 1 pm (Doubleheader), Sun: 1:05pm
Stadium: Beiden Field
Dimensions: 330 (LF), 400 (CF), 330 (RF)
All-Time Series: Fresno State leads 12-4
Last Meeting: FS defeated AF, 10-8 (2013)
Radio: AM 790 The Deuce (Sat. - GM1 & Sun.)
AM 940 ESPN (Sat. - GM2)
Play-by-play: Paul Loeffler
Analysts: Steve Housey (Sat.)/Bryan Marsoobian (Sun.)
Video: Mountain West Network
Live Stats: GoBulldogs.com
• Air Force visits the Bulldogs for the second three-game series of the season, April 26-27. Fresno State traveled to Colorado, March 7-9, and won the series 2-1.
• Projected pitching matchups -
Sat. (GM1), RHP Tim Borst (2-2, 2.87 ERA) vs. RHP Cameron White (3-6, 5.02 ERA)
Sat. (GM2), RHP Jordan Brink (2-2, 2.93 ERA) vs. RHP Griffin Jax (3-6, 5.48 ERA)
Sunday, TBA vs. RHP Steven Trojan (2-5, 4.32 ERA)
• Since joining the MW, Fresno State has won seven of nine games against Air Force.
• The Bulldogs are on a two-game win streak, matching the longest since March 18-19.
• Newcomers Ryan Dobson and Manny Argomaniz own a .400 BA over the last five games - tied for the team-lead. Argomaniz leads the team with two HRs and seven RBIs in that span.
• The FS vs. AF series has yet to play a traditional MW 3-game series due to weather.
Fresno State vs. Air Force - The Series
Up till 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. Earlier this season, March 7-9, the Bulldogs traveled to Colorado Springs. Despite a snow out on the day of the series opener and the backend of the Saturday make-up doubleheader being suspended due to darkness. The three-game series was still completed in its entirety with the 'Dogs winning the series two games to one. Back in 2013 as conference foe in the MW for the first year, snowy conditions in Colorado Springs again limited the two schools playing only one ballgame at Falcon Field 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 12-4 all-time series lead over the Air Force Academy.
Scouting Air Force
Fourth-year head coach Mike Kazlausky was an assistant for six years at Air Force before taking over the program in 2011, becoming the first military coach the school has had since 1988. An Air Force Academy graduate, Kazlausky has recorded a 62-139 record during his time at the helm.
Air Force is currently riding a six game win streak, the longest since 2002, and is winners of its last nine-of-ten that includes a series sweep of No. 20 UNLV. Coupled with its win over the Bulldogs when the 'Dogs were ranked No. 24 entering their series at Falcon Field in March, Air Force owns four wins over ranked teams this season. It is the most wins the Falcons have against ranked teams in one season in the history of the program. Over the last 10 games the Falcons are batting .324 and eight individuals are batting above .333. Sophomore right fielder Spender Draws was named Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week and Mountain West Player the Week on Monday, the junior batted .667 (10-for-15) with five doubles, seven runs and five RBIs in the Falcons series against UNLV. First baseman Seth Kline has hit five homers in the last 10 games.
Last Time Out
The Bulldogs played its final two-game midweek week with California on Tuesday and Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday, Fresno State hosted four Tuesday, Wednesday games at Beiden Field on a given week this season. The 'Dogs used the two nonconference games to get back in the win column. Fresno State completed a two-game season series sweep of Cal with a 7-4 win Tuesday (3/18 - W, 6-0). Then outlasted Cal State Fullerton 2-1 after 16 innings and four hours, twenty-five minutes. Both season highs.
Newcomers Finding a Grove
True freshman Ryan Dobson (shortstop) and junior transfer Manny Argomaniz (third base) have been on fire over the last five games, each leading the team in batting, tied with a .400 average. Both newcomers have each gone 8-for-20 in their past five starts and both found power in their bats. Argomaniz lifted his first career home run as a Bulldog on April 19 at Nevada, and Wednesday he hit the game-tying home run against Cal State Fullerton in the eighth inning. Also on April 19 at Nevada, Ryan Dobson registered his first career home run and first career triple in the same game. He leads the team with seven RBIs over the past five games.
The Rock in Right Field
One consistent feature about the Bulldogs 2014 team is that you will always find Jordan Luplow in right field. Luplow has started 42-of-42 games in right field in 2014, and 134-of-142 career games as a Bulldog in right field. This season the Bulldogs' outfielder leads the team in batting average (.350), runs (30), hits (56), doubles (13), home runs (7), total bases (92), slugging percentage (.575), on-base percentage (.453) and stolen bases (8). Those number rank in the MW as - batting average (3rd), runs (8th), hits (T-4th), doubles (5th), home runs (2nd), total bases (2nd), slugging percentage (3rd), on-base percentage (2nd), stolen bases (T-6th). Luplow set a career-best 18-game hit streak this season from Feb. 19 to March 21. The 18-game streak still ranks as tied for the 5th longest streak in the NCAA this season.
Extra Inning and One-Run Games
The Bulldog are on a short list with a few other schools when it comes to the number of extra-inning and one-run games played in the 2014 season. In extra-inning games the Bulldogs are up to six following Wednesday night's 16 inning game against Cal State Fullerton. The 'Dogs are 3-3 this season in extended games. Southern Illinois leads the NCAA with nine and are 4-5 in those games. In one-run games, the Bulldogs have been involved in 14 one-run games and are 5-9 in those contests. Southern Illinois also leads the NCAA in that category with a NCAA-high 20 games with a 10-10 record.
Fresno State is 15-10 when they are the first to score, but 6-11 when having to come from behind. When the Bulldogs score at least three runs in a game they have registered 16 of their 21 wins this season.
When it comes to the long ball, Fresno State has produced more home runs than any other team in the Mountain West (27). Furthermore, that figure ranks tied for the 23rd most home runs in the NCAA. 15 of the 27 homers have gone over the fence at Beiden Field. 10 different individuals have hit at least one run with Bulldogs' outfielder Jordan Luplow leading the way with seven, which ranks No. 2 in the Mountain West.
Breakout Player Candidate?
Sophomore catcher/designated hitter Taylor Ward is the second leading hitter by average on the Bulldogs squad this season at .319 (51-160). He has started in all 42 games this season and is leading the team with 30 RBIs. In addition Ward has 72 total bases, a .450 slugging percentage and .404 on base percentage. Flashback to Ward's freshman season and he had started 26 of 35 games through 42 games and owned a .202 batting average with 18 hits. Also in contrast he had 12 RBIs, 27 total bases, a .303 slug percentage and .318 on base percentage a year ago to this point in the season.
Mountain West Weekly Awards Honorees
Fresno State baseball has earned five weekly player of the week awards, trailing only San Diego State, who registered it sixth just last Monday for the most in the conference. Tim Borst was the most recent winner thanks to his five-hit complete game shutout against UNLV on April 5, it was his second award of the season. Taylor Ward has also been named MW Player of the Week twice while William Munro earned Pitcher of Week once.
Bulldogs in the Big Leagues
Fresno State has six former Bulldogs in the majors, five were on an Opening Day roster and No. 6, Justin Miller, was called up to the big show on April 18 by the Detroit Tigers. Tanner Scheppers got the opening day start for the Texas Rangers. Matt Garza is with the Milwaukee Brewers. Casey McGehee is in his first season with the Miami Marlins. Justin Wilson returns to the bullpen as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Doug Fister opens the season on the disabled list for the Washington Nationals.
Schedule Change for Season Finale against SDSU
Fresno State announced that the May 17 (Saturday) season finale vs. San Diego State will be moved to 2:05 p.m. The original first pitch was scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
Bulldog Baseball Promotions
All weekend is Salute to Services - all active military and veterans will receive FREE admission each game of the Air Force Series.
"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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