Fresno State and its bullpen brace for a long weekend (five games in three days) against Air Force

The Fresno State Bulldogs have, at minimum, 41 innings to pitch over the next three days, which would be daunting even for the baseball teams ranked in the upper third in Division I in ERA.

The Bulldogs are not one of those teams – they 254th among 296 teams.

But there is a plan in place that might get them get through two doubleheaders against Air Force and then the series finale against the Falcons – because two games were snowed-out when they were scheduled to play last month at Colorado Springs, they get a seven-inning game followed by a nine-inning game on Friday and Saturday and nine more innings on Sunday.

The Bulldogs, coach Mike Batesole said, will use their starters in the first games of the doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday and hope that Derick Velazquez and Blake Quinn can get through most if not all of the seven-inning games to cut down on use of a struggling bullpen.

Left-hander Tyler Linehan will start the second game of the doubleheader on Friday, with the second game on Saturday to be determined. And on Sunday the Bulldogs will start Jordan Brink, who is coming off back-to-back big games – he allowed only six hits and two run (none earned) in six innings in beating UNLV and then allowed seven hits and three runs in a no-decision in a loss at New Mexico.

‘’Those three guys (Velazquez, Quinn and Brink) will stay on their same three days,’’ Batesole said. ‘’Then the plan is Linehan and TBA. We’ll see where we’re at then.’’

Air Force (10-23, 4-9), one game ahead of the Bulldogs in the Mountain West Conference standings, figures to have similar issues trying to navigate the weekend.

The Falcons have a team ERA of 5.38 and has allowed 351 hits and 100 walks in 284 1/3 innings. Fresno State (8-24, 3-10) has allowed 322 hits and 137 walks in 276 1/3 innings.

They are opening the five-game series with freshman left-hander Trent Monaghan, who has pitched in five games, one a start, and has an ERA of 11.81. He has walked eight in just 5 1/3 innings.

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Air Force is 3-15 on the road, its last win on March 17 at Nevada. The Falcons have dropped six in a row since then, but three of those losses are by one run and five by three runs or fewer. … Fresno State isn’t the only programs with bullpen issues. The Falcons’ pen has an ERA of 6.37, but that is a significant improvement from past years. The bullpen ERA was 7.47 last year,7.08 in 2011 and 10.68 in 2010. … Bulldogs’ right fielder Jordan Luplow, who missed more than one month with a left shoulder injury, hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning of a loss to Sacramento State on Wednesday, his second homer this season. In seven games ince returning from the injury, he is batting .280 (7 for 25) with two doubles, the home run and five RBI. … First pitch for the first games of the doubleheaders are scheduled for 3:05 p.m. on Friday and 2:05 on Saturday. The second games will start 45 to 55 minutes after the conclusion of the first games. … Members of the United States’ military will receive free admission at Beiden Field all weekend.