Bulldogs’ Judge, Mariscal and Quinn earn all-conference honors

Fresno State center fielder Aaron Judge, who is leading the Bulldogs in every major statistical category and is likely to be a first-round pick next month in the MLB first-year player draft, has been selected first-team All-Mountain West Conference.

Fresno State center fielder Aaron Judge was selected first-team All-Mountain West Conference. He leads the ‘Dogs with 11 home runs.

Sophomore shortstop Chris Mariscal and right-handed pitcher Blake Quinn were selected to the second-team, and Quinn shared freshman of the year honors with New Mexico’s Sam Haggerty.

Judge is hitting .373 going into the MW Tournament – the Bulldogs play Nevada on Wednesday at Beiden Field in the first round, the first-pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. He also leads the ‘Dogs with 72 hits including 15 doubles, four triples, 11 home runs and 35 RBI. He hit a home run last week against Nevada that traveled close to 500 feet, almost reaching the fence along Cedar Avenue.

Mariscal, a Clovis North graduate, is hitting .302 this season with 61 hits including 12 doubles and two home runs.

Quinn, who is starting against Nevada on Wednesday, has been one of the top pitchers in the conference over the past month-plus. The former Bullard High ace is 2-2 over his past six starts, but has allowed only 34 hits and nine earned runs over 35 2/3 innings. His ERA in those six games is 2.27.

Fresno State’s Aaron Judge makes midseason Golden Spikes Award watch list

Fresno State center fielder Aaron Judge is on USA Baseball’s mid-season watch list for the Golden Spikes Award, which is presented annually to the top amateur baseball player in the country.

Judge, a junior from Linden, is one of 32 players from the original list of 50 to be selected. The ”rolling” watch list includes 60 players to make sure players have a chance to play their way on to it until the semifinalists are announced on May 28.

Going into a three-game Mountain West Conference series at UNLV this weekend, Judge is leading the Bulldogs in every major statistical category with a .346 batting average, .572 slugging percentage, seven home runs, 55 hits and 26 RBI. He also has a team-leading eight stolen bases in eight attempts.

Here is the complete watch list released Thursday.

Fresno State baseball notebook: Borst keeps starting pitching a surprising bright spot

Fresno State pitcher Tim Borst throws in the early innings against UC Santa Barbara at Beiden Field on Feb. 17, 2013. (CRAIG KOHLRUSS/THE FRESNO BEE)

Fresno State freshman Tim Borst took to the mound on Sunday to make his college debut, pitching the last of a three-game series against UC Santa Barbara, and the first two hitters that he faced might have given him reason wonder what exactly was going on.

The first batter he faced, Cameron Newell, hit a squirrely ground ball off the end of his bat that went for an infield single. The second batter, Peter Maris, then rifled a shot right through the middle, missing the Bulldogs’ young right-hander by maybe a few inches.

But Borst rallied from there, working backward and using the Gauchos aggressiveness at the plate against them, throwing his off-speed pitches when they were looking fastball and vice versa. He ended up working six scoreless innings in what became an 11-3 loss at Beiden Field, extending a nice run by the Bulldogs starters in a series they dropped two of three games.

“I thought we got two and a half good starts out of three this weekend and his was the best one,” coach Mike Batesole said. “We wanted to get him to about 75 pitches and I think he was over 80, at 81. You saw him just as the other two guys (Will Munro and Derick Velazeuez) did, right when they got to about 65 to 70 pitches, all of a sudden it wasn’t 91 (miles per hour) anymore it was 85.

“He was on fumes finishing it and emptied his tank for us and I was really proud of what he did, but the starting pitching was excellent all weekend.”

Starting pitching was as big a question as the Bulldogs had entering the season, but in their opening series the three they sent out there (Munro and Velazquez sophomores and Borst a freshman) pounded the strike zone, allowed only 14 hits in 17 innings while striking out 12 and posted an ERA of 2.12.

“The main thing was making quality pitches up there,” Borst said. “The coaching staff preaches simplicity, so even though they got the two base hits I was trying to make things simple on myself and go on from there. We’ve got a plan for this stuff. (Pitching coach Steve Rousey) talked to us before the game and told us when we get out there we just need to attack hitters and, like I said, just make things simple on yourself and go right after them.

“If they’re going to be real aggressive, we’re going to use that against them and try to come out on top.”

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Bulldogs’ baseball notebook: Nerves set aside, Munro takes step forward

William Munro had known for a couple of days that he would make the start on Friday, when the Fresno State Bulldogs opened the season against UC Santa Barbara, and by the time he made it out to the mound the butterflies had plenty of time to go from larva to pupa to sprouting some really big wings.

Nervous? Yes, Munro, a sophomore who had logged just 32 career innings for the ‘Dogs, was nervous. ”Lots,” he said.

But he got some comforting words from catcher Austin Wynns and first baseman Trent Garrison, the only two seniors on the team, in the dugout right before going out and throwing five scoreless innings in the Bulldogs’ 8-1 victory at Beiden Field.

‘’What really calmed me down was the fact that Wynns and Trent were both nervous and they told me that after the anthem,’’ Munro said. ‘’It was good to know I wasn’t the only one. But, definitely having Wynns back behind the plate definitely helps – there’s nothing to worry about, so there’s no reason to be nervous. That calmed me down right away.’’

Munro had command of his pitches from the start, throwing first-pitch strikes and getting ahead of the Gauchos’ hitters. He got through the first two innings easily enough and when facing a mild challenge in the third with a runner at third and one out, working with a 2-0 lead, he struck out Cameron Newell looking and Parker Miles swinging. Newell is the Gauchos’ leadoff hitter.

Then in the fourth, UCSB loaded the bases with two one-out walks and a sharp single to right. But Munro got Robby Nesovic to line into a double play to shortstop Chris Mariscal.

‘’Big stepping stone for him,’’ Wynns said. ‘’He’s going to do better next time. That’s the process – everyone has to keep getting better and better.

‘’He got that first-pitch strike and worked from there. He kept them off balance with his off-speed stuff. He did a great job. (Pitching coach Steve Rousey) did a great job calling the game.’’

 

BATESOLE ON MUNRO

Coach Mike Batesole on Munro: ‘’He’s grown up. How many guys play varsity baseball in high school when they are freshmen? Very few. That’s the same thing here. When a freshman is playing and playing a lot, that’s a rare talent. He got his chances last year, I think he had 30-some innings, and he handled them like a freshman. Now he’s not a freshman anymore and he’s doing what we expected him to do.

‘’He’s one of the best pitchers in San Diego high school history and so when we signed him we expected him sophomore and junior year to be a weekend starter and then probably away he goes after that. For one night, he’s right on schedule.’’

 

JUDGE OFF TO SLOW START

Aaron Judge, the Bulldogs’ preseason All-American, had a rough start to the season. He went 0 for 5, taking a called third strike with the bases loaded and two outs in the third inning and another called third strike in his next at-bat with one out and a runner at second base. He also struck out in the eighth with a runner on base.

Judge did not strike out three times in a game all last season.

 

LESSONS LEARNED

There was a point midway through last season that the Fresno State hitters couldn’t work a count, were going down meekly in a lot of at-bats, swinging at first pitches in and out of the strike zone.

There were some hard-learned lessons there, which paid off when the Bulldogs pulled things together in May and made a run through the Western Athletic Conference Tournament and into the NCAA Tournament.

And they carried over, the Bulldogs taking some very good at-bats against UC Santa Barbara left-hander Andrew Vasquez and right-hander Jared Wilson, a fifth-year senior.

Sophomore left fielder Jordan Brink went 0 for2 but had some of the best, reaching base twice on walks, and in his four plate appearances saw 27 pitches, 6.8 per.

His first two plate appearances were against Alvarez, a lefty-on lefty matchup.

‘’We went through a lot of pain and suffering last February and March,’’ Batesole said. ‘’Those freshmen were fighting their way through it and the last four or five weeks of the season they played very well. But at the beginning, you remember the struggles they went through.

‘’That’s why we let them do it. That’s why Brink played against all those left-hander last year, so when he’s a sophomore and junior he can handle it. That’s called growing pains, right?’’

Bulldogs’ Aaron Judge on Golden Spikes Award watch list

Fresno State’s Aaron Judge is a two-time all-conference player heading into his junior season. (JOHN WALKER/THE FRESNO BEE)

Fresno State center fielder Aaron Judge is one of 50 players on the preseason watch list for USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award, which is presented each year to the top amateur player in the country.

Judge, who has been selected to preseason All-American teams by Baseball America, Perfect Game and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, is coming off a season in which he hit .308 (62 for 201) including .321 (18 for 56) with runners in scoring position with four home runs and 27 RBI.

The Bulldogs open the season on Friday with the first of a three-game series against UC Santa Barbara. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.