Ricky Tyler Thomas overcame a rough start and got back to one of the things he does best to help Fresno State snap out of a losing streak and reapply some pressure in the Mountain West Conference baseball race.
Thomas, after allowing three runs on five hits across the second and third innings, settled down and fanned nine in eight innings to maintain his conference lead in strikeouts as the Bulldogs beat Nevada 5-4 on Friday in the opener of a three-game series.
The Bulldogs (22-13, 10-6) broke a 3-3 tie on Aaron Arruda’s single in the fifth and added what proved to be a needed insurance run on Nick Warren’s groundout in the sixth. Warren drove in Jesse Medrano, who led off with a double and moved up on McCarthy Tatum’s bunt.
Arruda and Brody Russell had homered in the third to erase the Bulldogs’ early 3-1 deficit.
Thomas let the Wolf Pack (15-16, 6-5) creep closer with the help of two singles sandwiched around a wild pitch in the eighth, but improved to 5-3 when Dylan Lee closed it out with a perfect ninth.
Fresno State went into last weekend’s series at New Mexico tied with the Lobos atop the Mountain West, only to see the hosts sweep all three games.
A nonconference loss to Pacific on Tuesday stretched the Bulldogs’ skid to four, but Friday brought a double dose of good news.
New Mexico fell 9-8 at cellar-dwelling San Jose State to open a three-game series in the Bay Area, allowing the Bulldogs to inch back within two games of the Lobos in the Mountain West.
▪ Thomas has a conference-leading 67 strikeouts compared to 10 walks for a 6.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which entering the weekend ranks in the top 30 in the country.
▪ Thomas has pitched eight innings three times this season and also has three games with at least nine strikeouts. He did not walk a batter for the fourth time.
▪ Lee needed just nine pitches in his 1-2-3 ninth inning.
▪ Russell’s homer was the 12th of his career; Austin Guibor homered in the first for the 11th of his career.
BASEBALL: FRESNO STATE VS. NEVADA
- Schedule: 6:05 p.m. Saturday, 1:05 p.m. Sunday
- Records: Bulldogs 22-13, 10-6 Mountain West; Wolf Pack 15-16, 6-5
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940), Sunday only