April 12, 2014
FRESNO, Calif. - In the weekend battle for the Mountain West top spot, the Fresno State softball team (22-13, 7-3) rallied from a four-run deficit to win, 5-4, over San Diego State (28-10, 5-2) Friday evening at Bulldog Diamond.
In the series opener, the returning conference champion Aztecs jumped out with two runs in both the first and third innings, while the `Dogs answered with two runs in the bottom of the third inning, and the game's final three runs in the fourth inning.
"We were a little nervous coming in but we pulled together to play Bulldog softball," Fresno State softball head coach Trisha Ford said. "Even though we were down, we continued to put pressure on them, and eventually it paid off. Props to San Diego State - they took advantage of some opportunities early, but our players never gave up."
Bulldog junior centerfielder Brenna Moss (2-for-2, RBI) paced the offense with her team-leading 17th multi-hit game of the season, and also rapped her fourth double of the season.
The returning All-MW choice also stole a school-record tying three stolen bases for the third time in her career and now has 24 overall on the season. She also moved up a spot on the Bulldog season all-time stolen base list to third place past Haley Gilleland (23), and only 10 shy of Moss's school record from last year (34).
The Bakersfield, Calif., native Moss also has 69 stolen bases career-wise - still second-best in school history - and is approaching Gilleland's all-time Bulldog best of 86.
In the third inning, Moss led off with a walk, advanced on a single by senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz, then scored on an error on a grounder past the shortstop. Ortiz later touched home on senior third baseman Vonnie Martin's first sacrifice fly of the year.
Willis opened the fourth inning with a lined shot to right center field and raced to third base, then scored on a single to center field by sophomore Paige Gumz. After Gumz stole second base, Moss followed with an RBI double into shallow center field, stole third base, and scored on a grounder by Ortiz that was booted by the shortstop.
Moss later preserved the one-run lead with the defensive play of the night with a runner on second base in the top of the sixth inning. On a single to shallow center field, Moss threw behind the runner who had rounded third base without looking back, and after a hesitation, was tagged out in a rundown between home plate.
"I came out trying to be patient offensively, and take it pitch by pitch," Moss said. "We had key contributions from so many different players. Kierra really helped get us going offensively with a triple - what a special birthday present for her. The throw (to third base) was an instinctive reaction. I had a feeling she would round the base big, and knowing how shallow I was, Vonnie would still have time to relay it home if she tried to score."
Bulldog right-hander Jill Compton (14-6) logged her 13th complete game of 2014, walked only one, scattered seven hits, and her seven strikeouts was her second-highest tally of the season.
"I didn't come out as strong as I needed to, but the defense did great, and our hitters really did the job, too," Compton said. "We knew we were capable of coming back, and we picked each other up. I had a better performance than last year's opener (vs. SDSU), and Paige (Gumz) gave me a lot of confidence with how we mixed our pitches up."
The Aztecs' first two runs came in the first inning after All-Region right fielder Patrice Jackson reached on a hit by pitch, followed by a walk to Sydnee Cable, and pair of singles by Kayla Bufardeci and Katie Mathis.
In the top of the third, SDSU scored its final two runs after a single and pair of stolen bases by by Kayla Jordan, a fielder's choice grounder, sacrifice bunt and RBI single by Mathis.
Otherwise, the All-MW returnee Compton consistently came up with key outs when needed as San Diego State stranded runners on second base to end the first, third, fifth and sixth innings.
Likewise in the seventh inning, Compton logged three strikeouts, including a strikeout looking of Cable after she started the at-bat with a 3-0 count.
In the circle for San Diego State, starter Danielle O'Toole (20-6) logged four strikeouts and two walks, allowed six hits, and three of her five runs allowed were earned.
Mathis led both teams in hits (3-for-3, 3 RBI), while Jordan also collected multiple hits (2-for-4).
In the team comparisons, SDSU held a slight edge in hits (7-6), and also runners left on base (5-4).
"The Aztecs put a lot of runners in scoring position, but Jill came up with a lot of big pitches when she needed to," Ford said. "Brenna really set the tone for us offensively and defensively. Brooke and Whitney (Smith) also made some key plays for us defensively, and as a whole, our defense helped put us in position to win."
After Friday's outcome, the Aztecs own a .714 conference winning percentage this year - just ahead of the `Dogs (.700), followed by UNLV (.667, 6-3, 16-21 overall) and San Jose State (.667, 4-2, 21-15 overall) with the latter two entering the weekend tied with Fresno State for second place.
Looking ahead, the two teams return for the second game at Bulldog Diamond on Saturday at 6 p.m. and finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.
As part of the Kids Weekend promotion, fans should stay after on Saturday to get their Bulldog Sophomore Poster autographed. On Sunday, kids can come early to play in the Bounce House before the game and get free root beer floats.
For the Salute to Sundays ticket promotion, all military with valid military ID's will get in for free with a valid military ID.
Fresno State 5, San Diego State 4 (Apr 11, 2014 at Fresno, Calif.)
San Diego State 202 000 0 - 4 7 3 (28-10, 5-2 MW) Fresno State 002 300 X - 5 6 0 (22-13, 7-3 MW)
"Catch the Wave!" - Follow Fresno State softball on Twitter at the *NEW* @FresnoStateSB address.
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