Fresno State left-hander Tyler Linehan has now done it back to back, put together solid outings in a May 7 victory over Hawaii and on Thursday in a 2-1 win over Nevada, and that might just mean that he is in fact … well, back.
The Bulldogs’ most experienced pitcher has had a rough year, but through it there have been some solid outings including a 1-0 victory over San Diego State on March 15 in which he allowed eight hits while striking out seven batters, a season-high. Until Thursday, when he worked four scoreless innings against the Wolf Pack, he had not put together two solid games in a row.
He worked a scoreless inning out of the bullpen against UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 15, then two days later gave ups six hits and seven runs (three earned) while recording just two outs against the Gauchos.
He was not scored upon in a short (two-thirds of an inning) stint on Feb. 24 at Stanford, then gave up nine hits and six runs (four earned) in a March 1 loss to USC.
He had another short appearance against Cal on March 7, retiring one batter without giving up a run, then two days later gave up three hits and one run in a loss to the Golden Bears.
Then there was that complete game shutout victory over the Aztecs. The next time Linehan went to the mound, he gave up 13 hits and 12 runs (eight earned) in just 4 1/3 innings of a loss at Air Force.
It has been that way all year. But a mechanical adjustment has him throwing strike one much more consistently, and for Linehan that is hugely important.
‘’Strike one,’’ Coach Mike Batesole said. ‘’What was it, 13 out of 15 or something like that today? That’s his whole deal. When it’s 0-1, it’s a different game. When it’s 1-0, it’s a completely different game. Why that’s a bigger factor with him than it is with some other guys, I don’t know, but it is.’’
Linehan did have to work to set down some of the Wolf Pack batters – he threw 72 pitches in his four innings. First things first, but it appears the Bulldogs have what could be a very important piece to take into the Mountain West Conference Tournament next week.
‘’I just have to fix those three-ball counts,’’ Linehan said. ‘’That’s something that (pitching coach Steve Rousey) and I will work on. Once we fix that, I know I have a great defense behind me, I just have to trust that, too, and know that we can get them out, then the pitch counts should go down and I should be able to go longer.’’