Fresno State’s Taylor Ward missed his pitch.
A chance to annihilate a 2-1 fastball right down the middle of the plate with runners on and two out in the seventh.
He fouled it back.
“That’s the one, as (Fresno State coach Mike) Batesole says ‘That’s the one you get out of bed for,’ ” Ward recalled later.
He wouldn’t snooze on the rest of the at-bat.
On a full count and runners on second and third, Ward sent an outside fastball from Wagner reliever Anthony Battaglia to right field, delivering the go-ahead runs that propelled Fresno State to a 4-2 nonconference victory Tuesday at Beiden Field.
“I wasn’t really sure what he was going to throw,” Ward said. “It’s more of a guessing game with two strikes. We try to battle and fight off pitches.
“He was trying to live on the outside plane. Lucky enough, I was able to put the barrel on the ball and bloop one in there.”
Fresno State (8-9), which plays Wagner again at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday, snapped a four-game losing streak.
Ward struggled to connect on outside pitches two seasons ago. But he started to build a level of comfort going to the opposite field on such offerings last year. And he’s continued that trend this season with the junior hitting .311 with team-highs of five home runs and 16 RBIs.
Still, just prior to Ward’s critical at-bat, Batesole called him over to go over the game plan.
“The last thing you want in there is ‘Should I look fastball? Should I look breaking ball?’ ” Batesole said. “You’ve got to have a plan. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if your plan is better than the coach’s plan.
“The key is you’re committed to one of them in your heart. ... That’s why (Ward) has got the numbers he’s got.”
Bulldogs starting pitcher Tim Borst got a no-decision but provided a second straight strong start.
Borst, relegated as mid-week starter to begin this season after serving as the team’s ace a year ago, allowed two runs (one earned) off six hits in 6 1/3 innings. The junior walked just one and struck out five and opened with five straight scoreless innings, aided by three double plays that all went shortstop to second base to first base.
“Just like last week, just try to simplify again and focus on one batter at a time,” said Borst, who threw five shutout innings and allowed just two hits in his previous start.
Will it be enough to promote the 6-foot righty back into the weekend rotation? His performance caught Batesole’s attention.
“He’s answered the bell,” Batesole said. “If he wants to get back in the weekend rotation, that’s exactly what he needs to do.”
Borst said he wasn’t worried.
With Fresno State enduring back-to-back losing seasons during Borst’s first two years, he expressed more concern about simply getting the program back on a winning track.
“There’s no extra motivation to try and earn a spot,” Borst said. “Whatever way I can help. We’ve had two pretty tough years here.
“We’re trying to turn the corner and turn it back into Fresno State baseball that we have a legacy of. So any way we can get that done, I feel that’s something this whole team is committed to.”