Baseball: Fresno State's Jordan Brink easing into full-time pitching routine

The Fresno BeeFebruary 20, 2014 

Fresno State's Jordan Brink -- connecting for a two-run triple against Air Force on April 19, 2013, at Beiden Field -- is being converted to pitcher full-time for the Bulldogs and he'll be starting the Mountain West opener on Friday, Feb. 22., 2014, against Nevada.

GARY KAZANJIAN — Fresno Bee Staff Photo Buy Photo

One start does not make a routine. That comes later with a couple of down days followed by some long toss and a bullpen session, maybe charting a mid-week game and then some video study leading into another start and then another; doing it week after week.

It could be a difficult transition, especially for Fresno State junior Jordan Brink, who has moved into a role as the Bulldogs' Friday night starter after playing in the outfield, at first base or as a designated hitter as a freshman and adding 59 2/3 innings in 17 appearances and eight starts on the mound into the mix last season. As coach Mike Batesole pointed out, there is some downtime in there to deal with, to learn how to manage start to start. And Brink, he said, has some energy, which could complicate things.

"That's a good question for him on how he's going to adjust to that, because you know in high school he did the same. He played every day and pitched, and last year he did both. ... Now he's pitching only. It's a completely different turn for him," Batesole said.

But the right-hander, who will make his second start of the season in the Mountain West Conference opener against Nevada on Friday at Beiden Field, said finding a comfort level in there hasn't been too rough.

"It's been OK," he said. "I thought it would be much tougher than what it was, but it's really not that bad. You go out there and you see all your buddies out there playing and you kind of get antsy waiting for your turn to contribute to the team, but it hasn't been bad."

On Tuesday and Wednesday, when Fresno State played nonconference games against Grand Canyon (a win) and Sacramento State (a loss), he did what he could in a supporting role. "He's not a quiet guy in the dugout, that's for sure," Batesole said.

There will be some video work and final prep leading up to the 6:35 p.m. first pitch, getting a refresher on the returning Nevada hitters, which is not something he did much when also playing in the field when he was not pitching. Last season, Brink faced the Wolf Pack three times working out of the bullpen, allowing only five hits and two earned runs while striking out 17 batters in 12 innings (1.50 ERA).

"You look at it just to get familiar with what the guys did last year and what pretty much they're capable of doing and what you need to do as a pitcher or as a hitter to take out their Friday night guy or Saturday guy, or take out their big hitters," Brink said.

Then it will be time to put those pieces together and build on his first start, in which he allowed just one hit and two walks while striking out six in 6 1/3 innings of a 2-0 victory in 10 innings at UC Irvine.

Also ... 

** Freshman Jimmy Lambert will pitch the second game of the series for the Bulldogs, with a starter on Sunday to be determined by how much pitching Batesole and pitching coach Steve Rousey use in the first two games. Lambert had a strong Division I debut, allowing four hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings of a 1-0 loss at UC Irvine.

** Batesole on sophomore right-hander Blake Quinn, who gave up eight hits and six earned runs in a loss to Sacramento State on Wednesday: "Blake is a tough kid. He's a local kid who has had a lot of success (at Bullard High). Don't forget, he's still young. He's just two weeks into his sophomore season. These things are going to happen and the tough guys work their way through it, and I'm sure he will."

The fix for Quinn is simple, in theory if not practice. "Get the ball down," Batesole said. "Where ever you're aiming, aim lower."

** Nevada comes into the series 2-2, the victories and the losses coming against Boston College and Santa Clara. The Wolf Pack, who were picked to finish fifth in the conference, one spot behind the Bulldogs, have a team ERA of 2.23.

The reporter can be reached at rkuwada@fresnobee.com or @rkuwada on Twitter.

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