Fresno State’s Underdogs to Wonderdogs 10-year anniversary
Top-seeded Fresno State endured a wild ninth inning but held on to beat No. 4 Nevada 4-3 on Thursday night during its opening game of the Mountain West baseball tournament in Reno.
Ace Ryan Jensen struck out 10 and limited Nevada to one run off three hits and two walks in eight innings, and the Bulldogs handed a three-run lead to closer Jaime Arias, who had 11 saves and a 1.99 ERA.
But in his first-ever postseason outing, the sophomore lefty walked three batters, threw two wild pitches and allowed two runs.
Still, coach Mike Batesole stuck with Arias the entire inning – regardless if Nevada had a left-handed or right-handed hitter at the plate.
With two outs and the tying run on first base, Arias got Nevada’s No. 8 hitter Marco Valenzuela to chase after a high fastball that was clearly out of the zone on full count for a game-ending strikeout.
Arias let out a deep sigh on the mound as Fresno State escaped with the win.
Fresno State (36-14-1) moves on to play No. 3 UNLV at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
UNLV defeated No. 2 San Diego State 9-3 in the tournament’s other opening-round game Thursday.
The Bulldogs lost two of three to the Rebels back in March, but swept UNLV over three games during the final series of the regular-season.
Earlier Thursday, Fresno State was honored with a number of postseason accolades as a trio of Bulldogs earned top conference honors.
Redshirt senior infielder McCarthy Tatum out of Clovis High was tabbed the Tony Gwynn Co-Player of the Year.
Jensen earned Pitcher of the Year honors.
And Batesole was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year.
In addition, eight Bulldogs earned All-Mountain West honors.
The six first-team selections are the most the Bulldogs have had since seven were named to the 2011 All-Western Athletic Conference team.
Tatum hit. 341 with six home runs and 34 RBIs. He also had at least one hit in 27 of the 29 Mountain West games and drove in at least one run in 25 of the contests.
Tatum is the eighth player under Batesole to be named the conference player of the year, and 18th player in program history.
Jensen, who is from Salinas, went 7-0 in nine conference starts, tossing at least six innings in all nine outings, and posting a 2.51 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 64.2 innings in Mountain West play.
Jensen is the fifth player under Batesole to be named the conference pitcher of the year and 11th pitcher in program history.
Batesole, meanwhile, earned his fourth conference coach of the year award during his 17-year tenure at Fresno State.
Batesole led the Bulldogs to their seventh regular-season championship in the last 14 years, joining WAC regular-season titles in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 and a MW title in 2016.
Joining Tatum and Jensen on the first team were senior infielder Nolan Dempsey, redshirt sophomore infielder JT Arruda, senior outfielder Zach Ashford and Arias.
Junior catcher Carter Bins and junior pitcher Davis Moore were named to the second team.