The Fresno State Bulldogs could do little to nothing at the plate, kicked the baseball around a bit and dropped a third game in a row, losing 4-1 to Cal on Tuesday at Evans Diamond. But the mid-week trip was not without its pluses for a team in need of a major-league rebound on the mound with a crucial Mountain West Conference series at San Jose State looming three days forward.
Ricky Thomas turned in a credible if not lengthy start and Anthony Arias pitched three perfect and restorative innings after he struggled mightily in a Saturday start and loss to San Diego State. In that game, he gave up three runs while recording only one out, a lowlight in a series the Bulldogs walked 16 batters, hit nine and threw four wild pitches.
The freshman left-handers, Coach Mike Batesole said, might very well have earned themselves starts this weekend.
“That’s what we wanted to see,” Batesole said. “We wanted to see both of those guys for three innings and then we’re going to make a decision on who is going to start this weekend, because as you know we’ve been struggling with our starters.
“You know the old saying, ‘You keep doing what you’re doing, you keep getting what you’re getting,’ so we have to change it up a little bit and those two guys right now appear to be throwing the ball along with (Jake) Shull and (Garrett) Mundell as two of our best four guys. At this point you’ve got to kind of hope for the hot hand because nobody has been consistent so you go for the hot hand and hopefully you get on a roll.”
Thomas needed 73 pitches to get through his three innings, but he was around the plate. Two of the Golden Bears’ (27-14) hits against him were bloopers that fell softly and the only real mistake he made was hanging an 0-2 pitch to Mitchell Kranson in the first inning.
The Cal catcher drove it through the middle for a RBI single.
Arias was sharper — he struck out one in his three innings, getting through with just 38 pitches, including 27 strikes (71%).
Fresno State (21-24) could count its mistakes on one hand — there were two errors and two of the four runs allowed were unearned — which was a big change after dropping two of three to San Diego State 15-3 and 9-4 last weekend at Beiden.
But the Bulldogs couldn’t get much done against Cal starter Jeff Bain, who came in 4-2 with an ERA of 2.53 and was ranked 25th in Division I in WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) at 0.93. He had allowed only 37 hits and six walks in 461/3 innings and after allowing one run to Fresno State it is 40 hits and seven walks in 55 innings.
Bain allowed a hit in the first — a clean opposite field single in the first inning by Kenny Corey. But Bain got out of the first with a double play and allowed only a walk to shortstop Korby Batesole and hit Taylor Ward through eight relatively quick innings before the Bulldogs pushed a run across on a RBI single by Ward.
“That club, they win two out of three the next three weekends they’re going to win that Pac-12,” Batesole said. “That’s a heck of a ball club there.
“The three mistakes we made, they really made us pay. The 0-2 single in the first was a tough one to swallow, we made a couple of other mistakes. Four. A hit by pitch, the hanging breaking ball and two errors. You’re going to make your mistakes, but everyone of them cost us today.”