Air Force might have come to Beiden Field with the No. 2 offense in NCAA Division I baseball, but it proved to be no match for Fresno State ace Ricky Thomas on Friday night.
Fresno State scored 12 runs in the third inning alone as Scott Silva and Austin Guibor each hit grand slams and the Bulldogs pounded the Falcons 14-1 to kick off a three-game Mountain West Conference series.
Thomas (4-2) allowed two hits and an unearned run over seven innings, striking out eight against a Falcons team that entered hitting .343 – second best in the nation among 295 programs.
Air Force scored its lone run in the first, and Thomas then retired the side in order in five of the next six innings.
With the score 1-1, Fresno State erupted in the third. Aaron Arruda put the Bulldogs (18-8, 7-3) ahead with a two-run homer, his fifth of the year.
And the onslaught was just beginning.
17 Batters sent to the plate by Fresno State in a 12-run third inning that featured a pair of grand slams
Following a single and back-to-back errors by Air Force (13-6, 4-2), Silva hit his grand slam over the left-field wall as the Bulldogs moved ahead 7-1. It was the Fresno City transfer’s first homer this season.
The Bulldogs scored one more run before reloading the bases for Guibor, who hit a grand slam over the right-field wall for his first home run of the year, and Fresno State was up 12-1. Silva capped the third-inning rally with a single up the middle to bring in Jesse Medrano from second.
Fresno State’s Scott Silva finished 4 for 5 with a run and six RBIs, and teammate Austin Guibor went 2 for 6 with two runs and four RBIs
The Bulldogs scored one last time in the seventh on another Silva hit, a single to center that drove in McCarthy Tatum.
Silva finished 4 for 5 with six RBIs. Guibor was 2 for 6 with four RBIs.
Arruda went 3 for 5 with two runs and three RBIs.
Air Force leadoff hitter Adam Groesbeck, who came into the series with the nation’s second-best batting average at .486, went 0 for 3. He did draw a walk and scored Air Force’s run.
The series continues at 6:05 p.m. Saturday with the Mountain West’s ERA leaders scheduled to face off – Air Force right-hander Griffin Jax (5-1, 0.88 ERA) against Fresno State right-hander Jimmy Lambert (5-0, 1.49).
AIR FORCE AT FRESNO STATE
- Series: 6:05 p.m. Saturday, 1:05 p.m. Sunday
- Records: Bulldogs 18-8, 7-3 Mountain West; Falcons 13-6, 4-2
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940)
- Of note: The Mountain West’s leaders in ERA are scheduled to face each other Saturday with Air Force starting RH Griffin Jax (5-1, 0.88 ERA) against Fresno State RH Jimmy Lambert (5-0, 1.49)