Cue up the Taylor Swift song “Bad Blood” for this weekend at Beiden Field at Bennett Stadium.
Maybe hire additional security, too.
The Nevada baseball team is coming to town for a three-game series against Fresno State to begin Mountain West play.
And whenever Nevada and Fresno State play, as Bulldogs senior Austin Guibor describes it: “There’s always bad blood. That always brings a little extra to the table.
We have some bad blood with them in the past.
Fresno State senior Austin Guibor about Nevada
“We have some bad blood with them in the past. It started a couple of years ago in the playoffs. I think we’ve always had a little extra juice for the series.”
Fresno State owns a sizable advantage in the all-time series at 100-60. But it has been more competitive recently; in four seasons of Mountain West play, the Bulldogs have gone 15-11 against the Wolf Pack.
Along the way, players and coaches have exchanged words, ugly looks and displayed extra joy in beating the other.
“We’ll see how things work out,” Guibor said.
Mostly, the rivalry has intensified because Fresno State and Nevada have continued to eliminate each other in the postseason.
Fresno State ended Nevada’s season during the Mountain West tournament in 2013.
The Wolf Pack returned the favor by knocking out the Bulldogs in 2014.
The 2015 brawl came in the regular season; the teams didn’t meet in the conference tournament.
Last year, Fresno State swept Nevada over three games en route to a Mountain West regular-season title and the conference tournament’s top seed.
But it was third-seeded Nevada that prevailed in the playoffs, demolishing Fresno State 25-6 in a game that lasted only eight innings and eliminated the Bulldogs from the conference tournament.
“That definitely leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” Fresno State senior Jesse Medrano said. “When you’re a competitor and things get out of control like that, you don’t forget.”
Fresno State (4-4), predicted to finish second in the conference in the Mountain West preseason coaches poll, continues to work through lineup changes and bullpen issues.
“I think we’d rather learn things right now, earlier in the season than later in the season,” Guibor said.
Fresno State ace Ricky Tyler Thomas has performed to the high expectations set when he was dubbed one of the top 50 draft prospects in the nation by Baseball America.
Thomas is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 24 strikeouts to two walks in 13 innings.
In his last outing against the Wolf Pack last season, though, Thomas got the win but struggled somewhat while giving up four runs off eight hits in eight innings.
0.69 Fresno State pitcher Ricky Tyler Thomas’s ERA after two starts and 13 innings, in which he’s amassed 24 strikeouts
Nevada (2-6) started the year with a tough Texas road trip (1-2 at Sam Houston State plus a loss at Baylor) then lost 3 of 4 last weekend to visiting Virginia Tech.
Struggling or not, Nevada still has Fresno State’s full attention.
“We’re definitely going to have a chip on our shoulder when we play them,” Medrano said.
NEVADA AT FRESNO STATE
- Series: 6:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1:05 p.m. Sunday at Beiden Field at Bennett Stadium
- Records: Bulldogs 4-4, Wolf Pack 2-6
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940)
- Of note: Wolf Pack outfielder Wes Hatten is a Clovis West High graduate who played two seasons at Washington State before transferring to Nevada. He has not played for the Wolf Pack this season.