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.

Batesole contemplating a bullpen shakeup after rough outings at Stanford

Fresno State Coach Mike Batesole played the percentages on Sunday, got the matchups out of the bullpen that he wanted. But his moves didn’t work out in a 7-4 baseball loss at Stanford, and very soon more freshmen could be seeing opportunities out of a struggling bullpen.

Mike Batesole relieves pitcher Garrett Mundell in a game last May at Beiden Field. Catcher Austin Wynns joins the meeting. (Fresno Bee photo by John Walker)

Up 3-2 into the sixth inning, Batesole pulled freshman starter Tim Borst with a runner at third base and one out, bringing in Tyler Stirewalt to face the right-handed hitting Alex Blandino. The Cardinal third baseman did not even have to get the bat off his shoulder before Stanford had tied the score – the first pitch from Stirewalt went to the backstop, the run scoring on the wild pitch.

Stirewalt went on to strike out Blandino, but then walked Lonnie Pauppila and Drew Jackson, each on five pitches, and with a left-handed hitter due up in Wayne Taylor, Batesole went to left-hander Tyler Linehan.

Linehan lost that matchup, giving up an RBI single, and the Cardinal had a lead.

Then in the eighth, after the Bulldogs had tied the score on a solo home run by Aaron Judge, the bullpen faltered again. Garrett Mundell gave up the go-ahead run on a one-out single to Jackson followed by a double down the left-field line by Taylor. Mundell got Brett Michael Doran for the second out of the inning and with another lefty due up in Danny Diekroeger, Batesole summoned left-hander Aaron Gilles.

Gilles lost that lefty-on-lefty matchup as well, Diekroeger drilling a two-run homer over the wall in right.

‘’You play the odds, you play the percentages, and nothing is foolproof in this game. You still have to go out and do it. Just because you bring in a lefty in to face a lefty doesn’t mean he’s out,’’ Batesole said.

In just 1 2/3 innings, the Bulldogs bullpen gave up four hits, four walks and four runs, all of them earned. That’s a lot of damage for only 53 pitches – Stirewalt threw 18, Linehan 16, Mundell 13 and Gilles six.

Fresno State has a freshman left-hander in the bullpen in Connor Chase, and the Bulldogs’ coach said Chase could start to get some of those situational opportunities. Chase has pitched in two games, working one inning and giving up one hit and no runs.

‘’You bet,’’ Batesole said. ‘’He’s got an appearance or two and he’s going to continue to get his chances. We have several freshmen that didn’t get in this weekend and that’s because those older guys have earned their chances as well and so they get the first chances and I think you’ll see more of those freshmen Tuesday (at Cal State Bakersfield) and beyond.’’