Fresno State will have to halt its first losing streak of the new baseball season by beating one of the top early-season contenders for the national championship.
The Bulldogs (11-2) dropped their second straight Monday, losing at Long Beach State 4-3 after taking a three-run lead into the bottom of the fourth. They did get some good news Tuesday with the announcement that Jimmy Lambert was named the top pitcher and Brody Russell the top player in a sweep of Mountain West Conference weekly honors.
Next up is a three-game series at Baseball America No. 2-ranked Texas A&M, which took an 11-1 record into Tuesday’s opener of a two-game series with Northwestern State. The Bulldogs and Aggies open at 4:30 p.m. Friday in College Station, with games at noon Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.
Lambert collected his conference honor after tossing seven innings and striking out a career-high nine in Saturday’s 10-5 win at San Diego State, securing Fresno State’s first series victory there since joining the conference. He limited the Aztecs to five hits and one unearned run.
On the season, the junior from San Dimas leads the Mountain West in wins (three), ERA (0.40) and innings (22.1), ranks second in opposing batting average (.190) and is tied for third in strikeouts with 16. Russell went 6 for 17 on the week with four runs, six RBIs, one double, one triple and one home run in four games last week – a 6-4 home win over Cal State Bakersfield and the 2-of-3 series win to open the conference seasons.
New honor for Bennett – California State University trustees are poised to add longtime coach Bob Bennett’s name to the Bulldogs’ home ballpark. The renaming of the park to Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium is expected to win approval Wednesday after being sent to the full board by the CSU Committee on Institutional Advancement.
“Bob Bennett has made many extraordinary contributions to Fresno State baseball,” Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro said at Tuesday’s meeting in Long Beach. “He is a true Bulldog, someone who boldly dedicated his life to this university. We are pleased to show our appreciation for his years of service to Fresno State and the entire San Joaquin Valley through the naming of Bob Bennett Stadium.”
Bennett, a Fresno native, left in 2002 with the school’s career victories record and remained 20th in NCAA history for all divisions and No. 15 in Division I entering this season at 1,302-759-4 in 34 seasons (1967, 1970-2002). He helped spearhead the campaign to raise $2.2 million to refurbish Beiden Field in 1983. New signage will be unveiled at a May 7 ceremony.
Beiden (1948-66, ’68-69) went 599-268 and began the year ranked 44th by winning percentage (.691) at the D-I level.
FRESNO STATE AT NO. 2 TEXAS A&M
- Friday-Sunday: 4:30 p.m., noon, 11 a.m. in College Station
- Records: Buildogs 11-2, Aggies 11-1
- Webcast: SEC Network Plus (available via WatchESPN app)
- Of note: Texas A&M plays a two-game series against Northwestern State on Tuesday and Wednesday. Its lone loss came in the opener of a three-game series at Pepperdine on Feb. 26-28.