On paper, Fresno State coach Mike Batesole’s strategy seemed a bit unorthodox but nonetheless favorable for the Bulldogs.
Rather than open the three-game Mountain West series with ace Ricky Tyler Thomas on the mound Friday as usual, Batesole elected to save one of baseball’s most coveted prospects for Sunday’s finale at New Mexico.
All the Bulldogs needed was to win one of the first two games in Albuquerque then turn to Thomas to close out the series.
Thomas, however, didn’t have his usual command Sunday, most notably walking seven and throwing two wild pitches, as the Bulldogs lost 6-2 to drop the series to the first-place Lobos.
The Fresno State junior lefty allowed three runs (two unearned) on two hits and the seven walks over six innings.
An throwing error with one out in the sixth led to New Mexico scoring two runs and Thomas left after the inning with the Bulldogs down 3-1.
Fresno State’s bullpen gave up three more runs in the seventh – all without the Lobos logging one hit in the inning.
The Bulldogs issued five straight walks to start the seventh, two from reliever J.J. Santa Cruz and three from Davis Moore, who walked in a pair of runs with bases-loaded free passes.
Fresno State (15-12, 6-6) remained in third place in the Mountain West but fell five games back of New Mexico (18-10, 11-1).
FRESNO STATE AT SACRAMENTO STATE
- Wednesday: 6 p.m.
- Records: Bulldogs 15-12, Hornets 14-12
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940)
- Of note: The teams split the season series last year, with Fresno State winning 7-5 in the first game and losing 5-4 in 11 innings during the second meeting.