Baseball Preview: Mountain West Championship Tournament

    May 20, 2014

    By: Matt Burkholder
    mburkholder@csufresno.edu
    GoBulldogs.com

    Mountain West Baseball Championship Tournament - Game One:
    No. 4 Nevada Wolf Pack (28-25, 15-15 MW) vs. No. 5 Fresno State Bulldogs (27-27, 13-17 MW)

    Fresno State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

    First Pitch: May 21 - Wed: 7 p.m.
    Stadium: Earl E. Wilson Stadium
    Surface: Grass
    Dimensions: 335 (LF), 400 (CF), 335 (RF)
    All-Time Series: FS leads NEV, 94-54
    Last Meeting: NEV defeated FS, 9-8 (4/19/14)

    Radio: Start - AM 790 ESPN "The Deuce"
    Join in Progress - AM 940 ESPN
    Play-by-play: Paul Loeffler
    Video: Mountain West Network
    Live Stats: GoBulldogs.com
    Twitter: @FresnoStateBSB

    Bulldog Headlines
    • Fresno State claimed the No. 5 seed for the 2014 Mountain West Baseball Tournament and will open vs. Nevada at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. FS won season series, 4-2.
    • Projected MW tournament Fresno State pitching rotation -
    Game one, RHP Jordan Brink (4-3, 2.96 ERA)
    Game two, RHP Tim Borst (4-4, 2.77 ERA)
    Remainder of tournament, TBA
    • Fresno State opened with Nevada in the 2013 MW Tournament, L, 4-3 (12)
    - In 2013 the Bulldogs were the 4-seed and the Pack were the 5-seed.
    • The Bulldogs return 12 players with tournament experience from last season.
    • Luplow has been named to two national watch lists - Golden Spikes & Gregg Olson.
    • Six times this season a Bulldog was the MW Pitcher or Player of the Week.
    • Eight Bulldogs are hitting above .300 since traveling to Reno, April 17-19 (min. 10 AB).

    Mountain West Tournament History
    Fresno State is making its 2nd appearance in the Mountain West Baseball Championship after hosting the tournament in its inaugural season in the conference. Fresno State went 2-2 in its first ever postseason MW tournament. The Bulldogs opened up against Nevada and fell into the losers' bracket after game one with a 4-3 loss in 12 innings. Fresno State survived and advanced in its next two games, defeating Air Force 6-4 and avenged its loss to Nevada by knocking them out of the tournament with a 10-1 win in game three. The Bulldogs tournament luck would run out as they played San Diego State, dropping a 4-0 game in their third elimination game.

    The Bulldog versus the Mountain West - 2014 Series Results
    vs. No.1 UNLV - Lost, 2-1.
    vs. No. 2 New Mexico - Lost, 6-0.
    vs. No. 4 Nevada - Won, 4-2.
    vs. No. 6 Air Force - Won, 5-1.
    vs. No. 7 San Jose State - Lost, 2-1.

    Fresno State vs. Nevada - The Series
    The Bulldogs and Wolf Pack have a long history together, playing a total of 148 games, with the Bulldogs owning the all-time edge 94-54. It is the fourth longest rivalry Fresno State has behind San Jose State, Cal Poly and Sacramento State. Fresno State and Nevada are the two newest members of the MW after both departing the WAC following the 2012 season. Since joining the MW, the Bulldogs own an 9-5 advantage in 14 games. And after just one MW tournament, the two programs have already played each other twice, with Nevada taking the tournament opener and the Bulldogs returning the favor two days later in the losers' bracket to end Nevada's season. Fresno State and Nevada last shared conference affiliation in the WAC from 2000-12.

    Scouting Nevada
    The Wolf Pack secured the No. 4 seed under first-year head coach Jay Johnson. Nevada dropped three-straight to UNLV to end the season at 15-15 in the Mountain West play. Five players are hitting better than .300 with Kewby Meyer leading the Pack with a .348 batting average. Slugger Austin Byler is hitting .335 with a MW-best 14 home runs. From the bump Jason Deitrich leads the group with a 3.13 ERA, best among the starters. Adam Whitt is the team's saves leader, Whitt has seven saves on the year and a 5-5 record.

    A Look Back at the Nevada Series
    After opening the season with a solid series win on the road at UC Irvine, the 'Dogs first weekend series at home was also their conference-opener. Brink opened the series with an exclamation point on the mound. The junior allowed just four hits and allowed one run, coming up just two outs shy of a complete game, as Fresno State took game one 4-1. After playing to a 3-3 tie through six innings in game two, Fresno State received RBI-singles from Kevin Viers and Chris Mariscal in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, to pull out a 5-3 win. Velazquez threw three shutout innings of relief to pick up the win. Sunday's series finale saw plenty of offensive fireworks. The teams combined for 18 runs on 27 hits and each team used six pitchers. A seven-run sixth inning proved to be the difference as the 'Dogs rallied from a 5-2 deficit. The inning featured five Fresno State hits and two Wolf Pack errors. After the teams put up identical two-spots on the board in the eighth, the 'Dogs held on 11-9 to sweep the MW series. The series in Reno featured even more offense. Fresno State set the tone in game one with a 20-10 win. Seven Bulldogs had multi-hit games and the offense posted innings with eight, six and five runs on the way to the highest scoring game of the season. In game two, Fresno State rallied for two runs in the ninth to force extra innings, but couldn't muster anything in extra innings before a Nevada rally in the 12th brought home the winning run in a 9-8 loss. The 'Dogs seemed to have the series win all but locked up in the finale, but the Wolf Pack scored eight runs over the final three innings to rally from an 8-1 deficit and win 9-8 and take the series.

    Bulldogs Built for Postseason
    Since 2008, the year the Bulldogs won the national championship, Fresno State has posted a 18-5 record in postseason elimination games. The Bulldogs have gone 11-2 in conference tournament elimination games, including a 3-0 record in 2012 to reach the NCAA Stanford Regional, and a 6-2 mark in NCAA Tournament elimination games. In the NCAA Tournament alone, Fresno State is 1-1 at the regionals in elimination games, 2-0 in the super regionals and 3-0 at the College World Series. During its run to the 2008 National Championship, Fresno State defeated San Diego 5-1 in the Long Beach Regional and then defeated No. 3 Arizona State twice in back-to-back elimination games to advance to the College World Series. In the CWS, Fresno State defeated North Carolina to reach the CWS finals and then after losing the opening game, defeated Georgia twice to win the programs first national championship.

    Brink Returns to MW Tourney
    Jordan Brink, the Bulldogs' Mountain West Championship game one starter, is one of 12 players that return to the Mountain West tournament from last year's squad. Although, the junior right-hander will be making his first tournament start on the mound. In 2013 Brink started all four games, but it was as the designated hitter. He went 5-for-16 (.313) with two runs scored and one RBI. Brink made one appearance on the mound as a reliever for 4.1 innings in the game one loss to Nevada. He surrendered one run on four hits while striking out six.

    Two 2013 MW Tournament Pitchers Return for 2014
    Fresno State will have two starting pitchers from the 2013 tournament available this week - Tim Borst and Blake Quinn. Borst has already been named the game two starter. Borst, also the game two starter in the 2013 tournament, led the 'Dogs to a 6-4 win against Air Force in 7.0 innings pitched. He allowed three earned run on 11 hits, while striking out four and walking two. Quinn exited after 3.0 innings in the game one loss to Nevada, allowing three runs off five hits. Jake Shull, on the 2014 active roster, will not be available for the 2014 MW Championship. He made one start in last season's tournament. Shull allowed three earned runs off eight hits in the game four loss to SDSU.

    'Dogs Leaving the Yard
    The Bulldogs hit 37 homers this season to the lead Mountain West, besting their 2013 mark of 36. The 37 home runs rank best in the Mountain West and T-No. 22 in the NCAA. 10 different Bulldogs contributed to the total, Jordan Luplow led the team with nine (No. 3 - MW) followed by Taylor Ward and Manny Argomaniz, each with six.

    Pitchers Keeping it in the Yard
    The Bulldog offense leads the conference in home runs while the pitching staff has kept the ball inside the park. The pitching staff has allowed just 12 home runs in 54 games to its opponents, tops in the Mountain West. Borst did not allow a home run with a team-lead 14 starts and 84.1 IP.

    Jordan Luplow Named to Two National Watch Lists
    On May 8 Jordan Luplow was named to the prestigious 30-man Golden Spikes Award watch list and a few days later, May 12, the 'Dogs right fielder was named to the Gregg Olson Award watch list. The Golden Spikes Award recognizes the top amateur baseball player in the country while the Gregg Olson Award honors college baseball's "Breakout Player of the Year." Luplow currently leads the Bulldogs in nearly every major statistical category. He finished the regular season with a .385 batting average, best in the Mountain West conference, 79 hits, 21 doubles, nine home runs, 46 RBIs, 129 total bases, .629 slugging percentage and .478 on-base percentage - all team bests. He also has a team-low 21 strikeouts with a minimum 100 at bats.

    What Got Into Manny Argomaniz
    17 games since Fresno State put 20 runs on the scoreboard at Nevada, Manny Argomaniz' offensive stroke has not lost steam. Over the past 17 games, since April 17, Argomaniz is hitting .343 (23-for-67) with 14 RBIs, six home runs, three doubles, 12 runs scored and has a .657 slugging percentage and an .387 on-base percentage. Mirror that with Argomaniz first 37 games prior to the Reno trip and he owned a .184 batting average (14-for-76) with 11 RBIs, zero home runs, one double, eight runs scored, and had a .197 slugging percentage and .253 on-base percentage.

    An Unconventional Homer
    A rarity that has not been seen since 2009 at Fresno State was added to Jordan Luplow's impressive resume this season. For his ninth home run of the season on May 13 vs. Bakersfield, Luplow hit an inside-the-park home run. Luplow roped a ball in the seventh inning that fell a couple feet shy of going over the fence in left-center field, Luplow was about to round second base by the time the ball hit the wall and he made it around to touch all four bases standing up. The last Bulldog to hit an inside-the-park home was Trent Soares on April 5, 2009 - also vs. Bakersfield. Coincidently just a few days prior Gavin Hedstrom hit an inside-the-park homer on March 20, 2009 vs. Loyola Marymount.

    Run Production
    The Bulldogs are 19-12 when they are first to score, and 8-15 when having to come from behind. When the 'Dogs have scored six or more runs this season they are 18-5.

    Extra Inning and One-Run Games
    In extra-inning games the Bulldogs are up to six following the April 23 16-inning game at home against Cal State Fullerton. The 'Dogs are 3-3 this season in those games. In one-run games, the Bulldogs have been involved in 16 one-run games and are 6-10 in those contests. Southern Illinois leads the NCAA in extra innings games (12), Cal State Fullerton leads in one-run games (25).

    Trent Woodward Named to Capital One Academic All-District Team
    Woodward was named to the Capital One Academic All-District team on May 1, one of five student-athletes from the Mountain West. It is the first Capital One Academic Honor for the junior from Chino Hills, Calif. Woodward holds a 3.42 GPA in communications, and has started all 54 games for the Bulldogs in 2014.

    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.

    TD Ameritrade Park Swallows Luplow's Hitting Streak at 18 - Held up for Best in the MW
    Jordan Luplow's 18-game hitting streak was snapped when the Bulldogs open their series vs. Creighton at TD Ameritrade Park. It spanned from Feb. 19 to March 21 The 18-game hitting streak was the longest of Luplow's career, besting the previous mark of 11 he set as a freshman in 2012. It held up through the remainder of the 2014 season as the best in the Mountain West. In those 18 games Luplow owned a .394 batting average with a .488 on base percentage and .697 slugging percentage, all team bests. He scored 15 runs and had 17 RBIs and four home runs in that 18-game span too. He also owned a 10-game streak this season, after the 18-game run.

    Even Steven
    Fresno State ended the season with a 27-27 overall record. Couple that with a 12-12 mark in day games, 15-15 in night games and a 7-7 record vs. left-handed pitcher and 20-20 mark vs. right-handed pitchers, it reveals the 'Dogs are trending.

    Bulldog Bats Erupt in Reno
    The Bulldog offense found its way in game one of its three-game series at Reno, April 17-19. Fresno State erupted for 20 runs in that game to beat the Pack 20-10. The 20 runs held up through the regular season as the most runs produced in a single game this season by a Mountain West team. Despite losing games two and three, both 9-8, the Bulldogs manufactured 36 runs over three games, a season-high. Since that series, eight Bulldogs are hitting better than .300 (min. 10 AB) while Luplow leads the team at .456.

    Wacky Weather
    Mother nature produced a wild season for the Bulldogs, the 'Dogs had six games postponed or canceled due to rain, snow and freezing temps. In started with the Alumni game being washed out on Feb. 8. In all, four regular season games were postponed that forced three doubleheaders - Texas A&M, Air Force (2x) - and Bakersfield game was rescheduled. The March 22 nonconferece game at Creighton was canceled when wind chills dipped into the single digits.

    Coach Batesole Hits Milestone Win
    Head Coach Mike Batesole clinched his 400th career win as the head coach of the Bulldogs on April 5 against UNLV. As just the third Fresno State head baseball coach since 1948, he is now in line with Pete Beiden (601) and Bob Bennett (1,302) as the only coaches at Fresno State to reach 400 career wins. Coach Batesole owns a 410-324 record in his 12th year at the helm of Bulldog Baseball and a 667-482-1 overall mark.

    California Dreamin
    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 Mountain West conference foe San Diego State.

    Mountain West Weekly Awards Honorees
    Fresno State baseball earned six weekly player of the week awards, trailing San Diego State and UNLV, who registered seven for the 2014 regular season. Fred Schlichtholz, a true freshman, was the most recent winner. He entered in a tie game, 1-1, in the 14th inning against No. 29 Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday April 23 and guided the Bulldogs through the next three innings with scoreless relief work, allowing no hits and one base runner. The Bulldogs pushed across the game winning run in the 16th inning, earning the true freshman his first career Division-I win. Tim Borst won the award prior to Schlichtholz 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 one time in 2014 for a complete game shut out of Cal on March 18.

    Home Sweet Home
    After its longest road trip of the season, nine games, Fresno State returned home and swept a five-game homestand from April 22-27. The Bulldogs defeated Cal for the second time in 2014 on the 22nd (7-4), outlasted Cal State Fullerton 2-1 in 16 innings on the 23rd and swept their Mountain West conference series over Air Force, outscoring the Falcons 25-3 in three games. Fresno State finished the season splitting its final homestand, 2-2 - one game vs. Bakersfield and a three-game season finale sereies against San Diego State. The Bulldogs went 20-10 at home this season and 7-17 away from home.

    All Games to be Streamed on the Mountain West Network - LIVE
    All 12 games (if necessary) will be streamed live on the Mountain West Network - games can be accessed on either www.GoBulldogs.com or www.theMW.com. The talent for this week's baseball games will be Rich Cellini (play-by-play) and David Lombardi. Paul Loeffler will split analyst duties for games that the Bulldogs are not playing in.

    "Catch the Wave" - The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.


     

     

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