Bulldogs’ offensive line could get a little lighter with loss of recruit from 2013 class

Fresno State will open fall camp on Aug. 1, likely without offensive tackle Kolby Drew, a transfer from Palomar College and one of six offensive linemen in its 2013 recruiting class. According to sources, the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Drew is unlikely to enroll in school because of a family issue.

Drew was an intriguing prospect for the Bulldogs, who have depth issues in their offensive line. Despite playing for a team that went only 4-6 and 2-4 in the Southern Conference, he was a first-team all-conference and all-state selection by the California Community College Football Coaches Association.

The Bulldogs also lost interior lineman Patrick Kim, a mid-year transfer from Mount San Antonio College, who was forced to take a medical retirement after sustaining a neck injury in a non-contact drill during spring practice.

Trouble has been no trouble for Fresno State pitching staff at MW Tournament

Fresno State advanced to a second elimination game at the Mountain West Conference Tournament on Friday and third overall with a 10-1 victory over Nevada, a game which, by the Bulldogs’ standard to this point, was relatively tame.

Left-hander Tyler Linehan shut down the Wolf Pack on five hits, allowing only one run. He struck out eight. Nevada left six runners on base, which is quite a switch from the Bulldogs first two games in the tournament when Nevada stranded 15 runners in a 12-inning victory over Fresno State in the first-round on Wednesday and Air Force left 17 on base in an elimination game on Thursday.

Fresno State pitchers have left 38 runners on base in 30 innings, and allowed the Wolf Pack and Falcons only four hits in 34 at-bats with a runner in scoring position, a .118 batting average.

In tough season, left-hander Tyler Linehan keeps Fresno State alive in MW Tournament

It has been a rough year for Tyler Linehan, the Fresno State Bulldogs’ left-hander. Any good outing was followed by a bad one, and there were far more of those through February, March and April. He couldn’t gain any traction, struggling with his mechanics and to find the strike zone – he walked 22 batters and hit six others in his first 34 1/3 innings, his ERA at that point 8.39.

Fresno State left-hander Tyler Linehan

But the Bulldogs’ junior made two solid starts at the end of the regular season, throwing three scoreless innings in a victory over Hawaii on May 7 and four scoreless innings in a win over Nevada on May 16, kindling the thought he could contribute come the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

That, he said after that victory over the Wolf Pack, would be awesome. For the Bulldogs, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, he did and it was, Linehan building on his late-season run on Friday by taking out Nevada 10-1 in an elimination game at Beiden Field and carrying the ‘Dogs into another must-win game at 3 p.m. against San Diego State, the No. 3 seed in the tournament.

‘’The beginning of the season was tough, a really slow start, not doing what you want to do and stuff,’’ said Linehan, who allowed only five hits and one run while striking out a season-high eight batters in his complete game victory. ‘’But working with (pitching coach Steve Rousey), he’s a great coach, working things throughout the year he stuck with me. We fixed some things the last couple weeks and just got it rolling and got momentum and got confidence going out there.’’

Linehan was sharp from the start, retiring the first eight batters he faced before a two-out walk in the third. He was getting ahead of the Wolf Pack hitters and pounding the strike zone – 16 of his first 20 and 24 of his first 34 pitches were for strikes.

He gave up only that single run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Hugo Hernandez. And, while in tight at that point, the Bulldogs ended up putting the game away with four runs in the bottom of that inning, three coming on a home run by left fielder Brody Russell.

Fresno State (23-32) added five more in the bottom of the eighth, including a three-run home run by leadoff hitter Jordan Luplow.

 

Wynns was on the field for about 90 seconds, not nine innings, but still had big impact for Bulldogs

A year ago at tournament time, when Fresno State was making its way through the bottom half of the bracket to emerge as champions of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, Austin Wynns caught every inning of every game, 58 in all including 18 over two games in one day, in temperatures that hit a high of 101 degrees in the opening game against Hawaii.

Fresno State catcher Austin Wynns

Coach Mike Batesole thought better of that on Thursday, when the Bulldogs faced an elimination game against Air Force in the Mountain West Conference Tournament at Beiden Field.

Wynns, a senior, didn’t start. But he kept pestering Batesole to get onto the field and he ended up playing a huge role in the Bulldogs’ 6-4 victory that kept them alive for a chance to extend their streak of conference titles, either regular season or tournament, to eight.

Coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, after the Falcons had closed to within one run in the top half, Wynns punched a 1-0 pitch into right for a two-run single to give Fresno State and its bullpen a bit of a cushion to get through the eighth and ninth innings.

‘’He was nudging me all day to get in there and he wanted to start and catch today,’’ Batesole said. ‘’But I was thinking there’s a chance if we’re going to get through this he’s going to have to catch five (games) in three days so we tried to get him a little break and good for him for coming in and doing what a senior is supposed to do.’’

When it comes to pitching, Bulldogs’ freshman Tim Borst got a win in victory over Air Force … and a save

Fresno State used three of its best pitchers in Blake Quinn, Derick Velazquez and Jordan Brink in the opening game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament, only to fall into the deep end of the bracket with a 12-inning loss to Nevada.

So on Thursday, in an elimination game against the Air Force, the Bulldogs needed a strong start from freshman Tim Borst, not only to win the game but to preserve some pitching for the remainder of the tournament.

Fresno State freshman Tim Borst

With the help of some stellar defensive play, they got it. Borst went seven innings in the Bulldogs’ 6-4 victory over the Falcons, scattering 11 hits and allowing three runs – not bad considering the Falcons had 18 plate appearances with a runner in scoring position and left 12 runners on base when the freshman right-hander was in the game.

‘’That was huge,’’ Coach Mike Batesole said. ‘’He’s our toughest pitcher, and that’s why we picked him instead of some of the other choices we had. We had to have him. We knew with the short turnaround, being here late last night and getting here early this morning, that it probably was going to take our toughest guy to get through that and that’s what he is and that’s what he did.’’

With Borst taking seven innings out of the equation, the Bulldogs were able to keep some solid options for an elimination game on Friday against either San Diego State, Nevada or New Mexico. They are to play the lowest losing seed from games four and five in the tournament.

Left-hander Tyler Linehan remains on the board, as does freshman Jake Shull. Garrett Mundell and Will Munro have yet to pitch in the tournament. And Batesole said there is a possibility that Quinn and Velazquez, who threw 60 and 63 pitches, could come back to pitch.

‘’I’ll have to talk to (pitching coach Steve Rousey) and see,’’ he said. ‘’I don’t think Brink will be able to, but the other two guys he might be able to run enough (to loosen up). We can’t run Brink into the ground because he’s going to be playing. But the other guys we might be able to run some of it out of them and get them out a day early. I don’t know, we’ll see.’’

With the prospect of two games on Friday, pitching will be at a premium. And the Bulldogs have some after the outing by Borst, who had been working mostly out of the bullpen the past two months. The seven innings against Air Force was a season-high.

”You have to give Borst some credit,” Batesole said. ”I mean, that kid was out there throwing on Thursday and Saturday (against Nevada) and now back out here again and dumps in 120 pitches. That’s a pretty gutsy performance from a pretty tough little freshman.”

 

MW Tournament: Bayardi grand slam leads UNLV past San Diego State in Game 4

Patrick Bayardi, the UNLV right fielder, came into the Mountain West Conference Tournament leading Division I in career hits, RBI and total bases and it figures there would be a big one or two in there somewhere. The senior is a three-time first-team all-conference selection, has led the Rebels in home runs and RBI the past two seasons.

But in his first at-bat on Thursday against San Diego State right-hander Michael Cederoth, Bayardi struck out with runners at first and second. And in his second at-bat, he struck out looking when leading off the fourth inning.

But coming up with the bases loaded in the fifth, Bayardi crushed the first pitch he got from Cederoth over the wall in left center field, the grand slam, his 11th home run this season, leading the Rebels to a 6-3 victory in Game 4 of the tournament at Beiden Field.

UNLV (37-18) will play New Mexico or Nevada in Game 8 on Friday at 7 p.m. The Aztecs (27-29) at either 11 a.m or 3 p.m. will play an opponent to be determined – the lowest losing seed from Games 4 and 5 plays at 11 a.m. and the highest losing seed from those games plays at 3 p.m.

Fresno State, which beat Air Force in an elimination game on Thursday, plays in the 11 a.m. game.

Bayardi struck out for a third time in the seventh against Aztecs’ reliever Ethan Miller, making it an all or nothing afternoon. But UNLV was able to add a run there on a RBI single by Patrick Armstrong, backing some solid pitching from starter Erick Fedde and relievers Brayden Torres and Kenny Oakley.

Fedde allowed seven hits and three runs in 7 1/3 innings, improving to 7-3.

On the grand slam, Bayardi said in the following video that he was looking to do something early in the count.

 

 

 

 

MW baseball: San Diego State breezes past Air Force 15-6

The Mountain West Tournament could not have started much better for the Air Force, with first baseman Seth Kline drilling a two-run home run in the top first inning to get the last-place team in the conference a quick lead. But it didn’t take long before the Falcons took a predictable turn … it was the bottom half of the inning.

San Diego State took advantage of three errors – two on one play – to capture the lead and went on to a sloppy 15-6 victory in the first of two games on Wednesday at Beiden Field.

The No. 3-seeded Aztecs (27-28) will play No. 2 UNLV on Thursday at 3 p.m., while Air Force (15-38) will play in an elimination game at 11 a.m. against the loser of the game between Fresno State and Nevada.

In that first inning, Jake Romanski reached on a one-out fielding error by Air Force shortstop Matt Thorne. Tim Zier followed with a single to center and both runners moved up a base when Falcons’ starter Steven Trojan fired a wild pitch, low and away.

Ryan Muno then singled to right, driving in Romanski, and Falcons started throwing the ball all over the diamond and Zier and Munro ended up scoring.

San Diego State added four runs in the third, the big blow a two-run single by John Spirk. And it added four more in the sixth, three coming on a bases-loaded double by Muno.

Zier had four hits for the Aztecs, the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 spots in the lineup a combined 9 for 13 with six runs scored and seven RBI.

Phillip Walby went eight innings for the Aztecs, allowing nine hits and five earned runs.

San Diego State Coach Tony Gwynn, after the victory.

 

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.

Robbie Rouse on the move again, waived by Cleveland Browns

Robbie Rouse turns the corner on a Cal defender to score a touchdown in Fresno State’s 2012 season-opener at Candlestick Park.

Robbie Rouse, the all-time rushing leader in Fresno State history with 4,647 yards, is learning life in the NFL isn’t easy.

The 5-foot-6 running back was waived by the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday, not even two weeks after he was signed as an undrafted free agent.

Rouse was a first-team all-Mountain West Conference selection as a senior, helping lead the Bulldogs to their first conference championship since 1999. He averaged 114.6 yards per game, third best in the conference, and also  had 1,925 all-purpose yards to rank second.

 

 

Game times set for Fresno State home games – Aug. 29 opener vs. Rutgers will kickoff at 7 p.m.

Fresno State announced the game times for its six home football games, with three to kickoff at 7 p.m. including the Aug. 29 opener against Rutgers.

The Bulldogs, coming off a Mountain West Conference championship season, will play Cal Poly on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. The Sept. 20 game against Boise State, which is to be televised by ESPN, will start at 6 p.m. The Oct. 19 game against UNLV will kick off at 7 p.m. And the last two games, Nov. 2 against Nevada and Nov. 23 against New Mexico, will start at 4 p.m.

All games are subject to chnage per agreements with the national television carriers in the Mountain West TV package.