Fresno State stayed in stride all week, defeating San Jose State 6-3 on Sunday to sweep the Mountain West Conference baseball series and cap one of the most successful stretches in recent program history.
On Tuesday, the Bulldogs (14-11, 6-3 MW) downed nationally-ranked No. 8 USC 14-7 on the road. They carried that momentum back to Beiden Field to take all three games from the visiting Spartans (7-16, 1-8) for their second conference sweep in a row, vaulting them into third place in league. San Diego State and Nevada are tied for first in the Mountain West at 7-2.
It’s a refreshing feeling for a Fresno State program that finished below .500 each of the past two seasons.
“It feels good knowing we’re back in the race. It’s been a couple years since we’ve been in it for real and this year we are,” head coach Mike Batesole said.
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Tied 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth, Kevin Viers homered to lead off the inning and spark a three-run Fresno State rally. It was Viers’ third home run of the series — he one on both Friday and Saturday — but his surge at the plate also started against USC, where he went 2 for 4 with a three-run double.
“What a great week for him,” Batesole said. “You could just see his chest come out (at USC) and he carried it with him through the weekend. That’s about as good a week as you can have at the plate.”
Hitting in the No. 8 spot in the lineup, the junior first baseman entered the week with a .200 batting average but went 7 for 12 (.583) in the series sweep, including 2 for 4 in Sunday’s finale. Add in his performance against the No. 8 Trojans and Viers is hitting .642 since Tuesday (9 for 14 with nine RBIs).
“Whenever you have an opportunity to help the team, you have to find a way and come up clutch and do what you can to help the team,” Viers said.
After two hit batters and a single loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth, Casey Rodriguez took over and got the Bulldogs out of the jam. The senior lefthander struck out his first batter and popped out the next before closer Jake Shull struck out the final batter to end the inning.
The Bulldogs completed the sweep in the ninth on a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
“We’ve been playing outstanding baseball against outstanding teams and it feels like this week we might have cracked through,” Batesole said. “We’re back in the race, right where we want to be.”
• Ex-Selma High standout and San Jose State pitcher Hilario Tovar started on the bump Sunday. It was the freshman righthander’s third start of the season and first on the road, though it sounded more like a home crowd with dozens of friends and family in the stands cheering him on from behind the Spartans’ dugout.
“It was one of my goals to start one of the games (in Fresno). I was pretty stoked,” he said.
Tovar held the Bulldogs to three runs on five hits and two walks in 41/3 innings.
Softball sweeps at Colorado State
Fresno State clawed back to beat Colorado State 11-2 and sweep its first Mountain West series of the season.
Paige Gumz went 2 for 4 with a pair of two-run singles, and Michelle Solomon went 3 for 4 with two RBIs as the Bulldogs (22-10, 3-0) came back from two runs down with 12 hits and 11 runs in the final three frames.
Jill Compton gave up six hits and two runs while striking out eight Rams (18-16, 0-3) in the complete-game win.