Fresno State freshman Anthony Arias had made five starts in March and the first part of April, two in Mountain West Conference games. One way or the other, all of them were a pitch or two away from so-so.
The left-hander then made his way back into the weekend rotation with four solid appearances out of the bullpen, setting up his Saturday start at Beiden Field in the second of a three-game series against San Diego State. But it did not last long.
Arias was done after facing four batters, three reaching and eventually scoring, and the Bulldogs as a team did not hang around much beyond that in a chilling 15-3 loss to the Aztecs.
Punctured in the first, Fresno State bled slowly the rest of the game, the bullpen continuing to yield runs and make it increasingly difficult to put a meaningful dent in that deficit even while it was still within reason. By the end of six innings, it wasn’t.
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The Bulldogs trailed by 14, adding two in the eighth including a home run by Taylor Tempel, but got stuck with their worst loss of the season.
“We probably made a poor decision starting him today,” coach Mike Batesole said. “Just, mentally, we failed on the mound. The last I counted, we had walked or hit seven guys that all scored, three in the first two innings. Anthony just wasn’t ready to pitch today, and I thought if we went to (Will) Munro there, to the veteran, he could get us to the fifth or sixth and hold the ship steady and he walked the No. 9 hitter who is hitting .234 and he scores. We probably just made some poor decisions. I’ll wear this one.”
Arias got off to an inauspicious start, getting ahead of leadoff hitter Steven Pallares 1-2 and then plunking him with his fifth pitch of the game. The freshman retired Danny Sheehan on a foul popup, but with Ty France at the plate Pallares stole second and then advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt.
France singled in a run and after Arias walked Seby Zavala, he was done.
Munro gave up a run-scoring single to Andrew Brown, the first man he faced. Chase Calabuig put down a bunt that scored Zavala from third and the Bulldogs were in a quick hole that they would dig deeper.
San Diego State (28-16, 15-8) added two more in the second. Alan Trejo walked and scored when Tempel in left field lost Pallares’ liner in the sun, the ball hitting in front of and then getting past him to the wall. France delivered a second RBI single and he would add a solo home run leading off the fifth against Dominic Topoozian, part of a 3-for-5, three-run, three-RBI day.
The Bulldogs (21-22, 11-9) just couldn’t gain any traction out of the bullpen. Topoozian had extricated them from the second and worked perfect third and fourth innings, but ended up allowing five hits and four runs in 22/3 innings. Munro allowed three hits and two runs in 11/3. Mark Reece, who picked up for Topoozian, allowed two hits, a walk, hit two batters and gave up four runs while recording just two outs. Left-hander Brennon Williams was left to finish up, allowing three hits, four walks and two runs.
The Aztecs, led by France, Andrew Brown with four hits and two RBIs and Brody Westmoreland, who crushed a grand slam against Williams in the sixth, put an emphatic end to the Bulldogs’ three-game winning streak.
Fresno State allowed a season high 15 runs and 14 hits — the Bulldogs had allowed 16 hits in a 10-6 loss at Cal Poly on April 14 and in a 12-2 loss at Oregon State on March 7.