Fresno State

Fresno State baseball: Ricky Thomas ‘sloppy’ but stellar in opening-night win

Fresno State pitcher Ricky Thomas didn’t really like his performance.

Bulldogs coach Mike Batesole called it “sloppy.”

But when it was over, both guys couldn’t help but smile over the outcome and what could be in store.

Despite struggling with command of his fastball, Thomas looked close to dominant as the left-handed sophomore struck out eight, didn’t allow a walk, and scattered three hits in giving up one run over six innings as Fresno State locked up a 2-1 victory over Creighton in the season opener Friday night at Beiden Field.

“Ricky was pretty sloppy and he probably missed more balls up in the zone than he did throughout the fall,” Batesole said. “Then you look at the stats sheet.

“That’s the sign that you’ve got a good chance to have a Friday night guy. Someone who can win these games when he doesn’t have his best stuff.”

Fresno State won its eighth straight season opener.

The Bulldogs scored their runs in the fourth on an RBI sacrifice bunt from Joe Prior and a run-scoring single by Korby Batesole.

Although the offense did strand 12 runners, the bullpen never let the Bluejays back in the game as Dylan Lee threw two scoreless innings and closer Tim Borst a scoreless ninth.

“It was a great job all around,” Borst said. “Thomas far from perfect, but the kid has got a lot of talent. Dylan was good. They put me a good spot to do my job in the end.

“It’s all about trusting each other. It’s a good win to build off.”

Thomas, who got the season-opening start over last year’s Friday night starter Jimmy Lambert, admitted feeling nervous going into the game.

His offseason performance earned him the nod after going 9-0 with a 0.92 ERA and 62 strikeouts over 10 appearances in the Cape Cod League, considered the premier collegiate wooden bat league.

Plus, slotting the right-handed Lambert on Saturdays helps break up the left-handed arms of Thomas and Sunday starter Anthony Arias.

“What Thomas went out and did this summer … I’ve got every scout in America calling me and saying, ‘Hey do you know what you’ve got here?’ ” Mike Batesole said. “If (Friday) was an indication of things to come, we’ve got a good guy here.”

Thomas turned to his changeup and cutter to grind his way against a Creighton team that finished 32-19 last season. He just wasn’t hitting his spots with his curveball, and his fastball was off, too.

He even hit two batters.

But by the third inning, Thomas said his nerves finally calmed.

His lone mistake was allowing Brett Murray’s solo homer in the fifth.

Creighton had just one hit over the final four innings.

“I’m one of those guys who’s never satisfied because I always feel the need to improve my game,” Thomas said. “But we’ll take this. We got the ‘W.’ Definitely, it’ll get us rolling.”

The three-game series continues at 2:05 p.m. Saturday.

Bryant-Jon Anteola: 559-441-6362, @Banteola_TheBee

Series continues

  • Saturday: 2:05 p.m. at Beiden Field
  • Records: Bulldogs 1-0, Bluejays 0-1
  • Of note: Series concludes at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, when radio coverage resumes on KFIG (AM 940)
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