Fresno State

Fresno State baseball: Arias’ impressive outing helps keep Bulldogs perfect

Fresno State baseball is off to an 8-0 start.

And no other Bulldogs baseball team over the past 41 years, including the 2008 national championship squad, has achieved that.

Behind another dominant pitching performance, Fresno State defeated Youngstown State 6-1 on Sunday to complete a four-game series sweep at Beiden Field and win its first eight games for the first time since 1975.

Sophomore starter Anthony Arias threw 6  1/3 shutout innings and extended his scoreless streak to 12  1/3 innings to start the year.

And the Bulldogs’ Nos. 1-3 starting pitchers of left-hander Ricky Thomas, right-hander Jimmy Lambert and left-hander Arias allowed no earned runs over 21  1/3 innings combined against Youngstown State.

“I’ve been doing this for a while now, and you appreciate how difficult that is,” Fresno State coach Mike Batesole said. “Sweeping one weekend, (considering) the teams that we play, is very difficult.

“But to get out to an 8-0 start, that means our pitchers are really doing an excellent job.”

As in his first start of the year last weekend, Arias baffled batters with a variation of speeds and command of his pitches.

His fastballs varied from 85 to 90 mph.

His changeup sailed in around 75 mph.

And perhaps his most unhittable pitch – a slow curveball – looped toward the plate at 65 mph.

“A lot of people will take that pitch because they’re kind of surprised,” Bulldogs catcher Nick Warren said of Arias’ curve. “They’re up there looking fastball, they see that thing, they’re not going to swing.

“They know they’re not going to hit that well.”

Arias (2-0, 0.00 ERA) limited Youngstown State to four hits, walked two and struck out three.

On Friday night, starter Thomas struck out 11 over six innings, allowed only one hit and walked three. He gave up three runs, but all were unearned.

Lambert started Saturday’s doubleheader with a complete-game shutout. He scattered three hits, struck out five and walked none.

“We’re not going to go 8-0 every eight games we play, but they’re giving us a chance to win every day,” Batesole said of the Bulldogs’ pitchers. “You go out there, throw strikes, trust your defense – that’s going to win you a lot of ballgames.”

And while Fresno State’s pitching stayed solid, the defense improved. The Bulldogs committed one error Sunday compared with three Friday.

Fresno State also was aggressive at the plate and on the bases, regularly calling hit-and-runs and challenging Youngstown State’s infield defense with small-ball tactics – even with runners in scoring position.

Leadoff hitter Austin Guibor finished 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI for Fresno State. No. 2 hitter Brody Russell went 1 for 2 with three RBIs. And No. 3 hitter Jake Stone was 1 for 2 with two RBIs.

“You’ve got to put the pressure on them early and get the momentum your way,” Guibor said. “Hit-and-run was a big part of our game plan today.”

Fresno State hasn’t exactly played tough competition. Creighton (3-3), Oakland (3-5) and Youngstown State (1-6) are 7-14 combined.

The Bulldogs certainly will be challenged more, most notably with a three-game series at No. 4 Texas A&M in two weeks.

But for the time being, Fresno State has avoided the occasional letdown and those rocky nonconference starts typically experienced during Batesole’s 14 years.

“This is what we’ve been working for so hard all fall,” Arias said. “It’s not so much about getting sweeps but jelling as a team and working together to get wins.

“It’s been phenomenal.”

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