Bulldogs’ Jordan Brink MW pitcher of the week after capping sweep of Air Force

Fresno State right-hander Jordan Brink has been selected as the Mountain West Conference pitcher of the week after capping a five-game sweep of the Air Force with a 5-3 victory at Beiden Field in which he struck out a career-high 12 batters in his first career complete game.

The sophomore from Central High, allowed only two earned runs and pounded the strike zone throughout, hitting 96 mph with his fastball. He threw 83 of his 114 pitches for strikes including 33 of his last 43 over the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. He is the third Fresno State pitcher to earn the weekly honor this season, joining sophomore Derick Velazquez and senior Tyler Linehan.

Brink also hit .615 (8 for 13) during the series with three triples, two doubles and seven RBI. UNLV catcher Erik VanMeetren was selected as the player of the week, after hitting .500 (8 for 16) during a week that included a sweep of San Diego State.

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Fresno State forward Jerry Brown to finish career at Santa Clara

Jerry Brown, who is graduating from Fresno State this spring, will use his final season of eligibility at Santa Clara in the West Coast Conference.

The 6-foot-7 forward played in 30 games for the Bulldogs last season, starting 21. He averaged 5.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game and was selected as the team’s outstanding defender.

Fresno State has 6-9 Braeden Anderson and 6-10 Tanner Giddings returning next season as sophomores, and in the Class of 2013 has recruited forwards Alex Davis from Hutchinson Community College and Soma Edo from Berkner High in Richardson, Texas, as well as wing Paul Watson from Paradise Valley High in Phoenix and point guard Emmanuel Owootoah from Codria High in Hazard, Ky.

Edison girls 1,600 relay blister a 3:48.31 — No. 1 in state for season and No. 2 all-time in section

Edison’s Njeri Omawahleh, one of the state’s leading 400-meter runners, was part of the Tigers’ winning 1,600 relay Friday that clocked 3:48.31 — No. 1 in the state for the season and No. 2 all-time in the Central Section.

Edison High’s girls won the 1,600 relay at the Sanger Metric Classic Friday night in 3 minutes, 48.31 seconds — the No. 1 time in the state this season and No. 2 all-time in the Central Section.

The Tigers’ quartet of Tia Edwards, Njeri Omawahleh, Melese Crozier and Nailah Harris-Murillo just missed the section standard of 3:48.08, also set by Edison in 2009.

Never in the 39 years of girls competition at the CIF State Championships has the section produced a 1,600-relay champion.

The state finals will return to Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium May 31-June 1.

Edison’s boys also flew at Sanger in the 400-meter relay.

The Tigers’ exchange of Blake Wright, Kevin Nutt, Cooper Neal and Charles Wheeler won in 41.55 — No. 1 in the section for the season and No. 3 in the state.

Stockdale’s Blake Haney boasts state season-leading marks in the 1,600 (4:10.39) and 3,200 (8:48.58). Madera South’s Jose Herrera is No. 2 in the state in the 1,600 (4:12.03).

The section last delivered a state boys four-lap gold medalist 60 years ago — Reedley’s Bob Seaman, who won the mile in 4:21.0. The mile was then replaced by the 1,600 when metric distances were implemented in 1980.

Central’s L.J. Moore is tied with three others for state high jump lead at 6-10.

Clovis West’s Nikki Okwelogu ranks No. 2 and No. 4 in the state in the discus (158-10) and shot put (47-9 1/4).

And Edison’s Miciah Murray ranks No. 3 and No. in the state in the high jump (5-9) and long jump (18-8 1/2).

Here are section athletes currently ranked among the state’s top 10 for the season:

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Bulldogs go slugging the night away in sweep of Air Force

Jordan Brink had three triples for the Fresno State Bulldogs on Friday in a doubleheader sweep of the Air Force, going 5 for 6, driving in four runs and scoring two more. Austin Wynns, Chris Mariscal and Jordan Luplow all had four hits over the two games, while Jake Alvarez, Taylor Tempel and Aaron Judge had three.

Included in the three hits by Judge was a towering two-run homer in the second game, an 8-5 victory.

Add it all up, and the Bulldogs hit .418 in the two games and had a slugging percentage of .642 – total bases into at-bats. That is a bit higher than it has been as they have scuffled their way through the first 34 games of the season. Coming in, the ‘Dogs slugging percentage was .420.


Want the Grizzlies’ replica Giants World Series ring? Get in line — now

Want a San Francisco Giants World Series ring?

Better get in line.

Like sometime Friday would’ve worked, for good measures.

Fans started showing up as soon as 11 a.m. Friday to wait outside of Chukchansi Park for the replica World Series rings that the Fresno Grizzlies will give away before Saturday’s game against the Tucson Padres. General admission gates open at 6:05 p.m.

Only 2,500 fans (who aren’t season-ticket holders) will receive a ring, which means you’ll need to be among the first 625 fans to enter among the four gate entrances (one entrance along Fulton Mall and three entrances basically along H Street), if each gates receives an equal amount of ring giveaways.

And if past Grizzlies’ promotions serve as any indication, it’s going to be a wild atmosphere before the game as people wrap around Chukchansi Park to get into the ballpark and try to get the limited-edition ring. Fresno does love its freebies, ya know.

Saturday’s giveaway is the same replica ring that the San Francisco Giants gave out to 40,000 fans at AT&T Park during their World Series rings ceremony earlier this month. A quick glance on ebay showed rings selling for roughly $100, with bidding still going on.

“Oh, I’m keeping mine,” said Lemoore resident Jimmy Robbins, who along with wife Patty was the first in line for the ring. “Probably going to wear mine a few times.

“To camp out for something like this, I’ve never done it before. But it’s that important. I love the Giants. Been a Giants fan forever. Everybody and their brother is going to be here for this. We wanted to make sure we got one.”

And don’t try to show up at the gate with five tickets and try to get five rings all for yourself. The Grizzlies front office has made it clear that it’s one ring per person who is present with a ticket — not one ring per ticket.

Fewer than 1,000 tickets remained as of Friday evening.

There was a line of about 30 people along H Street on Friday.

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MMA: Hanford fighter Chad Mendes back in octagon Saturday for UFC on Fox 7

Chad Mendes is eager to get back in the octagon.

It has been four months since the UFC featherweight fighter from Hanford has fought.

“I’ve been waiting for a while,” Mendes told mmaworld.com. “Pretty sick of training.”

Since a December fight against Yaotzin Meza — whom Mendes knocked out in the first round — Mendes has had three fights lined up but never happen because of injuries to his opponents.

Mendes (13-1) doesn’t have to wait any longer, facing Darren Elkins on Saturday at HP Pavilion in San Jose on the preliminary card for UFC on FOX 7. His fight will be on FX starting at 2 p.m.

Elkins (17-2) hasn’t had a lengthy wait like Mendes, facing Antonio Carvalho last month and winning by technical knockout in the first round.

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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.

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High water levels on the San Joaquin River

Water levels on the San Joaquin River are higher than usual through May due to increased flows mandated by the restoration agreement. This stretch is located near Sycamore Island Park. (KURTIS ALEXANDER/THE FRESNO BEE)

Earlier this month Metro reporter Kurtis Alexander and I drove out to Sycamore Island Park to do some kayaking on the San Joaquin River.

I neglected to check the flow levels before we left — something all paddlers should do — but the river was noticeably higher. And it’s even higher now.

Of course, this is all a result of the federally mandated restoration program. From April 12 through May 7, total releases from Friant Dam are scheduled at 1,060 cubic feet per second. Which is a lot for the San Joaquin. To put 1,060 cfs in perspective, consider that the minimum flows before the settlement were 100 cfs — barely a trickle. (You can see the entire schedule for 2013 here.)

What does this mean for people who use the river? It means they must pay attention and use proper paddling techniques, because narrow stretches along the river now boast significantly stronger current. And if that current carries you off to the side, especially when coming around a bend, you’re susceptible to being swept into submerged root systems. These “strainers” pose one of the biggest dangers on the river. When people get stuck in them, the current makes it impossible to break free and they typically drown.

There are some navigational hazards of the man-made variety, too. As part of the restoration, biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have installed monitoring stations to track planted salmon fingerlings as they cruise the river. One of these stations is located at Scout Island, between the Fig Garden and San Joaquin country clubs, and it’s set up in an area where the river is extremely narrow.

Making life interesting for boaters, one leg of the monitoring station extends out from the Fresno side while the other extends out a few yards upstream from the Madera side. Both are marked with pink ribbons (and there are warning signs upstream) but aren’t easy to avoid when you’re  navigating a 13-foot kayak through a narrow stretch of river.

In fact, it’s like a mini-slalom course.

Clovis West Invitational set to host 1,400-plus swimmers and divers this weekend

More than 1,400 swimmers and divers representing 41 high schools will converge in Fresno on Friday and Saturday for the 26th annual Clovis West Invitational.

The meet — featuring varsity and junior varsity competition — begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday with diving and continues at 8:30 a.m. Saturday with swimming.

Top area swimmers entered include Sanger freshman Jillian Hatch (200 free, 500 free), Clovis senior Hannah Harvey (50 free, 500 free) and Clovis West senior McKenna Fife (200 individual medley, 100 back) and junior Mary Brooks (50 free, 100 free).

On the boys side, top locals are Clovis senior Ryan Perry (50 free, 100 free) and Clovis West junior Justin Wright (200 free, 100 Fly). Golden Eagles coach Adam Reid said Wright is a good bet to set the meet record in the 500 free having already swam an automatic All-American time in the event this season.

St. Ignatius College Prep of San Francisco and Westlake are the top out-of-town schools entered.

Clovis and Clovis North “Play for the Cure” in Friday TRAC baseball

Mark Gardner, the San Francisco Giants’ bullpen coach and a former Clovis High pitcher, has donated orange and white batting gloves to Friday night’s “Play for the Cure” fundraiser matching the Clovis and Clovis North basetball teams on the Broncos’ field.

The Clovis North High baseball stadium will be awash in orange Friday, when the No. 3 Broncos and No. 2 Clovis “Play for the Cure” in a leukemia fundraiser at 6:30 p.m.

The “orange-out” Tri-River Athletic Conference game seeks to raise money to support cancer research and help patients in the Central Valley battling blood cancers. All proceeds from merchandise sales (orange t-shirts, cancer awareness wrist bands and jewelry) and donations will be given directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The game will also be played in honor of Chris Bush, a Pioneer High-San Jose student-athlete who lost his battle with leukemia on October 3, 2012, at the age of 16. His friends and family members will be in attendance at the game, as will Pioneer’s athletic director and coaches. Other families of cancer patients and survivors will also be present.

To support the cause, multiple donations have been given to members of the Broncos and Cougars baseball teams to create the orange-out game.

Mark Gardner, the San Francisco Giants’ bullpen coach, a former Clovis pitcher and father of Clovis North outfielder Daniel Gardner, donated orange and white batting gloves; Nike donated orange socks; Sports Chalet donated orange wrist bands; and Olive Garden is sponsoring pregame meals for both teams. The Fresno Grizzlies are also sharing their mascot Parker for the evening.