The first pitch out of the right hand of Fresno State starter Tim Borst was a strike, a fastball that bisected home plate. But that was followed by four straight out of the strike zone and a sprint from dugout to bullpen by relief help.
Two more balls made it six in a row and a visit from pitching coach Steve Rousey, which happens when sporting a 15.75 ERA.
Borst, one of the Bulldogs’ most dependable pitchers a year ago, was not off to the best of starts. But after that opening walk to a get-well-soon game against Sacramento State on Tuesday at Beiden Field, the right-hander settled in nicely and plowed his way through five scoreless innings in a 6-2 victory that extended Fresno State’s winning streak to four.
“His back was against the wall,” coach Mike Batesole said. “He’s trying to be a part of this. He’s probably one of our best two or three pitchers and he just hasn’t pitched like it. …
“These Tuesday games can be a real blessing because we got through last weekend without going to him and if we didn’t play we might go through next weekend without him throwing. But he got a chance to go out there and redeem himself so to speak and he certainly did. So now he’s back in the plans and likely will pitch again this weekend (at Oregon State).”
Borst struck out the side to get out of the first, the first three of 10 in a row he would retire. He didn’t allow a hit until there were two outs in the fourth, a single to left by Scotty Burcham putting runners at first and second. But he retired the next batter on a fly ball to right field, and was even better in the fifth after giving up a leadoff double to Gunner Pollman.
Facing Nos. 8, 9 and 1 in the Hornets’ batting order, Borst retired Bronson Grubbs on a liner to center that was snared by Brody Russell, Dan Deely on a fly to center and Kyle Moses on a fly to left.
Borst ended up allowing two hits and three walks in five innings while striking out five batters, throwing 47 of his 75 pitches for strikes. A solid outing, considering he had allowed five hits, five walks, hit two batters and seven earned runs in his first three appearances this season covering four innings.
Simplifying was key, as well as pounding his fastball down and away.
“Coach Rousey always preaches about simplifying and that’s something that personally needed to be done, just trying to go out there and make one pitch at a time, not put too much pressure on myself or anything like that,” Borst said. “That’s the coaching staff doing a great job of leading me back to where I need to be mentally.”
The Bulldogs (7-5) gave him four runs to work with in the second against left-hander Jake Stassi, the first two on a throwing error by third baseman Brandon Hunley that allowed Aaron Arruda and Russell to score. Arruda had reached on a single to right, Russell on a bunt single. Taylor Tempel drove in the Bulldogs’ next two runs in the inning with a single to center, driving in Nick Warren and Jesse Medrano.
Warren in the fourth hit the first home run of his Fresno State career, crushing 2-0 a pitch from Stassi over the Bulldogs’ bullpen beyond the left field wall. and Manny Argomaniz hit his second of the season and eighth of his career in the fifth, driving a 2-0 pitch from Ty Nichols over the wall in left.
That was plenty for Borst and the Bulldogs, who got three strong innings from left-hander Anthony Arias, who was making his first appearance coming back from Tommy John surgery and allowed just one hit over three shutout innings and striking out four.
“He sat out all last year and he toed the rubber like a veteran,” Batesole said. “We need him, too. He could end up being in our rotation before the year is over.”
Nelson leads Bulldogs golfers
Fresno State’s Keenan Nelson closed with a 2-over 72 Tuesday to finish in a tie for 15th place at the Del Walker Invitational men’s golf tournament in Long Beach.
Nelson’s total of 3-over 213 at Virginia County Club in Long Beach included a second-round score of 4-under 66, his career low.
Neil Bautista, competing as an individual, and Michael Pugh posted the Bulldogs best scores in the final round with a 68 and 69, respectively.
Fresno State was ninth as a team at 25-over 865, 27 strokes behind champion IC Irvine.