Fresno City College ace Connor Brogdon likes to finish what he started.
But when the right-hander allowed a run and had the bases loaded with two out in the top of ninth, coach Ron Scott had seen enough.
Brogdon didn’t want to leave, but walked toward the bullpen and shouted some expletives. Frustration aside, he did not have to worry. Not with state saves leader Shane Desmond behind him.
Desmond struck out Rex Campbell and the NorCal second-seeded Rams held on for a 2-1 victory over No. 3 Feather River on Friday to open a best-of-three Sectional at Euless Ballpark.
A win in Game 2 at 1 p.m. Saturday sends Fresno City to its first state tournament berth since 2007. Game 3, if needed, is Sunday.
The closer finished it in the opener, but it was Brogdon who got it to that point, like he always does. He is now 11-0 on the season.
“Of all the games he’s pitched here in two seasons, that was his best game in a big moment,” Scott said. “Best he’s ever thrown.”
Brogdon walked four but allowed just three hits and struck out nine.
“He was just flying through those hitters,” said center fielder Daniel Gardner, who drove in what proved to be the winner on a sacrifice fly in the seventh. “That’s a good hitting team over there and he made it look easy. He attacked the zone, good fastball. Had a little trouble in the ninth. But Shane … he’s been huge for us all year (in) clutch situations like that.”
Desmond’s 10th save broke a tie for the state lead and equaled a school record.
“The team relies on us a little bit, but it’s the guys making plays behind us doing all the work,” Desmond said. “We’re just throwing strikes. I was hoping (Brogdon) was going to finish it, but as long as we win.”
Scott credited pitching coach Eric Solberg for calling a “really good game.”
“(Brogdon) kept them off balance,” Scott said. “We were looking for breaking balls and fastballs. That whole combination is why we won the game.”
The Golden Eagles (32-11) lost a third straight playoff series opener. But the Rams obviously are aware Feather River came back in each of the previous two.
“They’re a good team,” Scott said. “We know it’s going to be another great game tomorrow … we hope.”