The Fresno State baseball team didn’t have much working, striking out on average twice through each of the first six innings against USC right-hander Brooks Kriske and out of the bullpen Bernardo Flores and Jeff Paschke.
They piled up, the Bulldogs on a pace for 18 in the game, which would not be a school record, but obviously wouldn’t do much for their chances to snap a four-game losing streak.
They managed to scratch out a run in the third and Taylor Tempel drilled a pinch-hit home run to tie the score in the sixth between those strikeouts — and a pitching staff that got beat up a bit in a sweep at Nevada in their Mountain West Conference-opening series kept giving them chances.
But, waiting, finally, they cracked. After whiffing on a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Bulldogs’ Jake Shull walked in the game-winner in the top of the 10th, the Trojans taking a 3-2 decision Tuesday before 1,919 at Beiden Field.
“(Kriske) threw the ball exceptionally well today and he got us chasing his breaking ball,” Fresno State coach Mike Batesole said. “But the bottom line is you can’t walk 10 guys every stinking game. We’ve got 50 walks now and 16 hit batters — that’s 66 free base runners in eight games; that’s eight free base runners a game.
“We’ve played so well in every other area. We could be the team that’s 8-0 if we throw the ball over the plate.”
The Bulldogs (3-5) were able to work around most of those walks, but not in the 10th.
David Oppenheim led off the 10th with a single for USC (9-0) then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Shull walked Reggie Southall and the Trojans bunted both up a base.
Shull came back to retire AJ Ramirez on a foul pop, and the Bulldogs intentionally walked the left-handed —and .485 hitting — Garrett Stubbs to lead the bases.
Shull, though, could not get Jeremy Martinez, walking in the winning run for the Trojans, who are off to their best start since 1988.
“Shull hadn’t walked a guy all year,” Batesole said. “We walked in three I think on Saturday (at Nevada) and we walked in a couple of other guys over the weekend and we walked in another guy today. That’s more guys than you should walk in in four years.”
The Bulldogs did little against Kriske but strike out. The only real mistakes the Trojan made came in the third, a one-out walk to Ryan Dobson and then an 0-2 pitch he left up and in against Austin Guibor, who ripped it into the corner in right field for an RBI triple.
Kriske issued two-out walks in the fourth and the fifth, but had more than enough to put down those innings. Brody Russell fouled out to end the fourth, and after Taylor Ward singled behind that two-out walk to Guibor in the fifth Kriske came back and struck out Kevin Viers.
Kriske was done there, leaving left after five innings having struck out 10 batters. The Bulldogs struck out 16 times, the only starter to not go down right fielder Jake Stone. The school record is 28, set in a 3-2 victory over San Diego on March 26, 2011, that went 22 innings.