Fresno State had swept its season-opening series against UC Irvine, outscoring the Anteaters by a 14-0 margin after the sixth inning and coming back from four- and five-run deficits with late rallies to take the final two games.
But there was not much carryover on the mound and not quite enough at the plate in a midweek matchup at against Cal Poly, which had been swept at Baylor in its opening series and on Tuesday night started a freshman making his college debut.
The Bulldogs got nothing against in Andrew Bernstein and could not keep up when the bullpen added to their degree of difficulty and put them into a chase mode in the latter innings, the Mustangs pulling away and then barely hanging on for a 7-6 victory at Beiden Field.
Fresno State made a charge, scoring three runs in putting two runners on in the bottom of the ninth, but Danny Zandoza got a fastball on the outside past Manny Argomaniz to end it.
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“That was a good comeback,” Bulldogs coach Mike Batesole said. “We gave some at-bats away early — we got caught in between. The whole day we were getting caught in between. We were late on the fastball and early on the breaking ball. You saw a lot of at-bats in the first five or six innings where we were out in front with all of those F9s (fly outs to right field) that we hit. ... But give them credit for coming back. We were down seven against a good team and what you want to do is find a way to get the tying run to the plate, and we did a little better than that. That’s a pretty good comeback.”
Bernstein, who was only 1-3 with a 4.83 ERA during his senior season at Claremont High, set down the first seven batters he faced before giving up a single to Austin Guibor with out in the third. The Bulldogs left fielder was bunted into scoring position, but was out by plenty trying to score from second on a two-out single by Ryan Dobson, cut down by a strong throw from right fielder Zack Zehner.
After that, Bernstein set the next six Bulldogs down in order. The right-hander started the sixth by walking Guibor, who again was bunted into scoring position in what was a one-run game. But Michael Gomez, a freshman who had worked two scoreless innings against Baylor, came out of the bullpen and struck out Dobson swinging and Brody Russell looking to get out of the inning.
The Fresno State bullpen then spring a leak with right-hander Will Munro, who had worked a scoreless sixth inning, giving up four runs in the seventh to put the Bulldogs in a deep, but familiar, hole.
Peter Van Gansen, who had the RBI double in the fourth that gave the Mustangs a lead, opened the inning with a double to right-center and went to third when Jake Lesinki reached on a bunt single. Van Gansen scored on a wild pitch with Kevin Morgan at the plate, and Lesinski scored when Morgan drove a ball through the middle and into center field.
Munro ended up allowing five hits and four runs (three earned) in 11/3 innings.
Cal Poly added two more runs in the eighth, which was a bit too much for the Bulldogs. They had come back to win after trailing 5-1 and 5-0 in the seventh against UC Irvine, but fell just short this time.
Fresno State got three runs in the eighth, including a two-run single by Russell and three more in the ninth, and go into a Mountain West Conference-opening series at Nevada on Friday off a loss. The Wolf Pack is 4-0 after beating No. 5 Texas Tech 8-4 on Tuesday in Lubbock.
“I like the way were playing,” Batesole said. “We’re playing really hard and that’s the third (game) we’ve come back from a pretty good deficit. That’s pretty impressive. I like that. I like the way we’re playing defense.”