FRESNO, Calif. --- The Fresno State baseball team used the long ball and solid pitching to grab a 5-3 win over UNLV in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Beiden Field.
"One thing we are learning as a team is you've got to play every pitch and every out and we've certainly been battle tested," Fresno State head coach Mike Batesole said. "Our skin is certainly a lot thicker now than it was a month ago. These kids played their hearts out for 27 innings and if they continue to do that, you watch, it will turn."
Austin Wynns and Kevin Viers each hit two-run home runs and right-hander Jordan Brink went a solid six innings, allowing no earned runs, in his first Mountain West start. Bulldogs' freshman Tim Borst threw three innings for his first save of the year.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Trent Garrison reached on an infield single and then Wynns launched his second home run of the season to left field to put the 'Dogs ahead 2-1.
After allowing a second unearned run to let the Rebels tie the game at two, Fresno State (8-20, 3-7 Mountain West) regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Jordan Luplow hit a hard groundball to third and it was misplayed by UNLV (22-9, 7-5) third baseman Joey Armstrong and allowed Taylor Ward to score.
Brink found himself in trouble in the top of the sixth while nursing the 3-2 lead. The Rebels loaded the bases with no outs and that was when the sophomore right-hander went to work.
Brink got Justin Jones to foul out to Viers, then struck out Erik VanMeetren and got Matt McCallister to line out to Viers to keep UNLV off the board and hold on to the one-run advantage.
Viers, whose defense played a key role in ending the bases loaded jam the half-inning before, used his bat to make a difference in the game. The freshman launched a 1-2 pitch over the right field fence for his second home run to extend the `Dogs lead to 5-2.
Brink (2-1) struck out seven in his six innings of work to earn his first conference victory.
"The main thing was just to make quality pitches," Brink said. "Our defense was really good the whole weekend, and we were hitting the ball well, so we were all confident to come out here and try and get a win in the series. The third times a charm, so we are feeling good about that."
The `Dogs are back in action next weekend when they take on MW-leader New Mexico in Albuquerque. The series starts on Friday at 2 p.m. PT at Lobo Field.
Courtesy: Fresno St. Athletics
Fresno, Calif. – Cole Gillespie delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning to propel the Fresno Grizzlies to a 5-4 win over the Tacoma Rainiers on Sunday at Chukchansi Park.
The Grizzlies and Rainiers went back and forth all game long until Gillespie drove home the game-deciding run. The bottom half of the eighth was started with a strikeout by Johnny Monell, but Juan Perez followed by dropping in a single into short center field. With Gillespie at the plate, Perez stole second base and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Gillespie cashed in Perez one pitch after the wild pitch to make it 5-4 Grizzlies.
Heath Hembree closed out the game with a scoreless ninth inning. The right-hander allowed a leadoff single, but retired the next three batters in order for his first save of the season. Hembree has not allowed a run in eight straight appearances with the Grizzlies, dating back to last season.
Chris Dominguez shined for the Grizzlies in both halves of the sixth inning. Tacoma's Scott Savastano hit a single with the bases loaded to tie the game at 2-2, but Dominguez threw out Jesus Sucre at the plate with a one-hop throw to Monell on the play to end the inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Dominguez smacked a triple off the left-center field wall to score Brett Pill and Gillespie, giving the Grizzlies a 4-2 lead.
The newfound lead did not last long, however, as the Rainiers scored two runs in the top of the seventh on a two-base error by Fresno second baseman Juan Ciriaco. With runners on first and second with two outs, Rich Poythress hit a short fly ball near the first base line that Ciriaco mishandled. Denny Almonte and Alex Liddi scored on the error to tie the game at 4-4.
Jean Machi picked up the win after throwing a scoreless eighth inning. The right-hander struck out one and walked one.
Grizzlies starting pitcher Michael Kickham pitched well in his Triple-A debut, allowing one run on four hits over five innings pitched. The left-hander struck out six and walked three on 86 pitches.
While Kickham allowed a baserunner in each inning, the only real threat he faced was in the fourth inning. Liddi led off the frame with a triple and was driven home by Carlos Peguero with a single to make it 2-1 Grizzlies. Poythress later hit a single to put two runners on base, but Kickham settled in and struck out two of the next three batters he faced to end the inning.
Pill drove in the first two Fresno runs with a double into left-center field that scored Ciriaco and Francisco Peguero. Pill finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
The Grizzlies will begin a four-game set against the Las Vegas 51s, now the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, on Monday, April 8th at 7:05 pm. Boof Bonser will start for Fresno in his 2013 debut. The right-hander will face left-hander Darin Gorski.
Courtesy: Fresno Grizzlies