Fresno State’s big bashing was limited to one inning for the series.
But the Bulldogs’ steady dose of strong pitching and defense always was there.
And that combination helped Fresno State register its first Mountain West series sweep of the season, secured Sunday with a 5-1 win against Air Force at Beiden Field.
The Bulldogs outscored the Falcons 25-5 for the series – accomplished against an Air Force team (13-8, 4-4) that entered the weekend in first place in the Mountain West and sporting the nation’s second highest batting average (.343) throughout Division I baseball.
“It’s real awesome that we can take three from one of the best in the conference,” Bulldogs left fielder Jake Stone said. “The last game was real big for us.”
2 Number of earned runs Fresno State starting pitchers Ricky Thomas, Jimmy Lambert and Edgar Gonzalez combined for over 20-plus innings against Air Force
Sunday’s win lifted Fresno State (20-8, 9-3) into a first-place tie in the Mountain West with New Mexico (19-9, 9-3), which lost 6-5 to UNLV in its series finale.
Freshman Edgar Gonzalez helped Fresno State get it done Sunday, limiting the Falcons to one run (unearned) and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
A day earlier during Fresno State’s 6-3 win, Bulldogs junior Jimmy Lambert out-dueled Falcons ace Griffin Jax before approximately 20 pro scouts in the stands and held Air Force to three runs (one unearned) off six hits in eight innings. The two pitchers were the Mountain West’s top ERA leaders entering the weekend.
And it was Bulldogs ace Ricky Thomas who set the pitching tone, allowing just two hits and one run (unearned) with eight strikeouts in seven innings in a 14-1 win Friday.
There are some fantastic hitters in that dugout. And we held them in check to get those three wins.
Fresno State coach Mike Batesole on the Bulldogs’ pitching against Air Force, which was hitting .343 entering the weekend
“We pitched exceptionally well,” Bulldogs coach Mike Batesole said. “Gonzo was fantastic. That’s a team that’s been hitting hot. We knew it was going to be a fight from start to finish.
“There are some fantastic hitters in that dugout. And we held them in check to get those three wins.”
Yet, it still was Fresno State’s scoring barrage Friday that resonated throughout the series.
The Bulldogs tied a school record with 12 runs during the third inning alone.
Aaron Arruda got it started with a two-run homer. Scott Silva and Austin Guibor then sent the Bulldogs into the NCAA record books by each hitting a grand slam later in the inning.
When Fresno State’s Scott Silva and Austin Guibor each hit a grand slam during the third inning Friday in a 14-1 win against Air Force, it marked only the 23rd time in NCAA history a team hit two grand slams in the same inning.
There have been only 22 other times in NCAA history that a team hit two grand slams in the same inning, the last in 2008.
Batesole recalled Friday’s big inning being a blur.
“It went pretty quick,” Batesole said. “Got the first grand slam. Next time you look up, and there’s three guys on again.”
Much of Fresno State’s offense throughout the weekend was generated off its small-ball game, including three timely Saturday when the Bulldogs scored four runs in the eighth to rally for the win.
They used more small ball to generate offense Sunday, with a bunt by Ryan Dobson bringing in one of three runs during the fifth inning when Fresno State took control.
“We’re not going to bash people,” Batesole said while noting Friday’s big inning was a welcomed surprise. “This is a team that has to be good at the inside game.
“We weren’t chasing four, five runs. That means you can still do what you want to do. And when you have a two-run lead and can scratch out one more, that’s huge.”
FRESNO STATE AT PACIFIC
- Tuesday: 6:30 p.m. at Klein Family Field
- Records: Bulldogs 20-8; Tigers 9-16
- Of note: Pacific is in its first year under coach Mike Neu