With the Fresno State baseball team down early at San Jose State and doing little at the plate, coach Mike Batesole made some in-game lineup adjustments that had the desired effect. The Bulldogs, sparked by Brody Russell, Jesse Medrano and Nick Warren off the bench, pushed runs across the plate in the sixth and seventh innings, worked their way up to tie the score.
But there was nothing that Batesole or any of the Bulldogs could do about a controversial call at first base that propelled the Spartans to a four-run rally and 7-3 Mountain West victory on Saturday at Municipal Stadium.
With two outs and runners at first and second in the bottom of the eighth, Garrett Mundell got Brett Bautista to bounce a ball to Korby Batesole at short. Batesole threw across to get Bautista, but first base umpire Javier Navarro ruled that the throw pulled Kevin Viers off the bag. Safe. Ozzy Braff, the runner at second, raced around third and was able to score a go-ahead run for San Jose State.
Soon enough, it had company.
“Umpires are going to miss calls, and you accept that as a coach,” Batesole said. “Things are going to happen fast and they’re going to miss things that actually happen. What’s frustrating is when they see things that never happened.”
Batesole argued his case to no avail, the call clear to Navarro. Viers had lost contact with the bag reaching for the throw and by the time he was back on it, it was too late, Navarro said.
The Bulldogs (22-25, 12-11 MW) couldn’t end it right there, which only made it more difficult to re-rally already having come from three down.
With runners at first and second, Mundell was called for a balk by home plate umpire Javier Cantu to move up both runners into scoring position.
Mundell got another grounder, Dillan Smith tapping one toward short. But Batesole, racing in on a tough chance, had the ball skip over his glove and into the outfield for his second error in the inning. Both runners scored. The Spartans added a fourth unearned run in the inning when Corey Olivet singled to center.
The Bulldogs had no answer, losing a chance to move into a tie with New Mexico for third place in the conference race. With the Lobos losing to Nevada on Saturday, Fresno State remains in fourth, one game back.
The Bulldogs need some answers in the final game of this series against the last-place Spartans (12-35, 5-18), having failed to generate much to this point. The changes — fresnman McCarthy Tatum in for Manny Argomaniz, Russell in for Austin Guibor, Nick Warren in for Taylor Ward and Jesse Medrano in for Ryan Dobson — were an attempt to turn that around. Through the first five innings the Bulldogs had just one hit against freshman Josh Nashed, who came in with an ERA of 6.31 and had allowed opposing batters to hit .319 against him.
Russell ended up with two hits, including a double in his first at-bat, and scored the Bulldogs’ first run. Medrano had a hit and scored a run.
“We had a game plan coming in and some of the guys weren’t executing it to our standards, so we made some changes and those guys that we put in, other than (Tatum), they’ve all been playing a lot and they’ve all had some success so we thought we’d give them a chance and they all performed very well,” Batesole said.