The Fresno State baseball team is chugging into the postseason with the perfect combination: Hot offense, dominant pitchers.
Fresno State is 35-14-1 overall and finished as the runaway Mountain West regular-season champion with a 20-8-1 record. San Diego State finished second at 16-13 and UNLV (14-15) and Nevada (14-16) complete the four-team field for the conference tournament Memorial Day weekend in Reno.
Fresno State opens against Nevada at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The winner plays at 6:30 Friday, the loser at 2 p.m. Friday.
The winner earns an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs would prefer not to leave their fate to an at-large selection; the last time Fresno State won the Mountain West regular season (2016) the Bulldogs went 0-for-2 in the conference tournament to end their season at 36-22.
Fresno State has improved its nonconference schedule since then and boasts wins this season at top-50 RPI teams Tennessee and Oregon (two). The Bulldogs were No. 43 in the most recent RPI.
For now, focus on that great 1-2 punch. There’s pitching: top starters Ryan Jensen and Davis Moore are a combined 18-2, the bullpen is anchored by Jaime Arias (11 saves) and the team ERA is under 4.00.
And there’s hitting, averaging 8.7 runs in a streak of nine wins in the last 10 games.
McCarthy Tatum, the senior third baseman from Clovis High, leads the conference in RBIs with 65, capping it off with a three-run homer (his 11th) in the first inning Saturday.
JT Arruda, the sophomore shortstop out of Buchanan High and the Mountain West player of the week, was 6 for 11 with seven runs and five RBIs against UNLV to maintain a season-ending hot streak.
Leadoff hitter Zach Ashford, the senior center fielder out of Buchanan, is second in the MW in batting average at .375.