Diamond ‘Dogs sweep Rebels in 3-game series


Marcos Acosta/The Collegian

Jack Anker on the mound for Bulldogs.

By Dylan Gonzales, Reporter

On paper, Fresno State and UNLV are evenly matched. Both came into the weekend baseball series in Las Vegas at .500 in the conference. The ‘Dogs came in at 4-4, while the Rebels were 3-3.

Fresno State has the lowest ERA in the Mountain West at 4.09 and UNLV has scored the second most runs at 155, including one game where it planted 31. 

On the flip side, UNLV has the worst ERA in the Mountain West at 7.09, while Fresno State has scored the fewest runs with 78.

Though two of the games went into extra innings, the ‘Dogs swept the series.

Fresno State 2, UNLV 1 (10 innings) (March 24)

The ‘Dogs won the first game due to a successful pitching performance by Ixan Henderson and the bullpen. In seven innings, Henderson allowed only one run on four hits, while striking out seven Rebels. 

UNLV scored in the bottom of the second on a single by shortstop Paul Myro, taking a 1-0 lead. 

The Bulldogs evened the score at one apiece in the top of the fourth inning when Tommy Hopfe scored on a groundout by first baseman Jaden Sheppard. 

The game remained knotted up going into extra innings. In the top of the 10th, catcher Tommy Davis continued his strong performance by giving the ‘Dogs a 2-1 lead on an RBI double, scoring Grady Morgan.

Hopfe, who also pitches, closed the game out in the bottom of the inning with his team-leading sixth save. Bulldog Jack Anker recorded his second win of the year, and over his last 11.2 innings, he has only allowed one earned run.

Fresno State 7, UNLV 5 (11 innings) (March 25)

For the second time in the series, the ‘Dogs and the Rebels needed extra innings to decide a winner. 

Once again, the Bulldogs received consistent outings from their starter. This time, Jake Dixon pitched seven innings and allowed only one run, which was unearned. Dixon struck out six batters, walked one and only gave up four hits. The seven innings were Dixon’s highest total of the season, and the four hits were the lowest he’s allowed. His ERA improved from 5.87 before the start to 4.50 after.

Fresno State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on an RBI single by third baseman Murf Gray. The ‘Dogs scored again on an RBI single by left fielder Bobby Blandford to take a 2-0 lead. 

The Rebels scored their lone run off Dixon in the bottom of the fourth on a fielder’s choice, cutting the deficit to 2-1.

Davis continued strong over the weekend, in the top of the sixth with a two-RBI double to give the ‘Dogs a 4-1 lead. The Bulldogs added their fifth run in the top of the eighth when Morgan scored on a groundout.

The Rebels responded with four runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 5. Robbie Peters gave up one run in two-thirds of an inning, and Zach Statzer gave up three without recording an out. Statzer came into the game with an ERA of 0.87, and after his rough outing, his ERA jumped to 3.48. 

Hopfe came in to get the final out of the inning.

The game remained tied until the top of the 11th. Travis Welker scored the go-ahead run for the ‘Dogs on a wild pitch from the Rebels. They added another run on an RBI single by Marco Pirruccello to take a 7-5 lead. 

Pitcher Trevor Garcia earned his second win of the year after pitching three scoreless innings. 

Four Bulldogs had multi-hit games: Ben Newton (two), Blandford (three), Gray (three) and Davis (two).

Fresno State 10, UNLV 4 (March 26)

The Bulldogs’ offense had another strong game to sweep the Rebels. The 17 total runs over the last two games were the most they’ve scored in a two-game span all season. 

The ‘Dogs jumped ahead early, scoring three runs in the top of the first. They scored all three runs without recording a hit in the inning. Morgan scored on a Nikoh Mitchell walk, Newton scored after Gray was hit by a pitch and Blandford scored on a fielder’s choice. 

Fresno State added two more runs in the second inning. Welker scored on a groundout, and Morgan scored on a flyout. After two innings, Fresno State had a commanding 5-0 lead. 

UNLV scored two runs in the bottom of the third after two wild pitches by Bulldog starter Roman Angelo. 

The ‘Dogs scored in the fifth on an RBI single by Pirruccello. They scored again in the seventh on a Welker RBI single to take a 7-2 lead. 

The Rebels scored two more in the bottom of the inning on a two-run single off Angelo. Angelo pitched 6.1 innings, but gave up four runs. He struggled with control as he walked three and had two wild pitches. 

Fresno State scored three runs in the top of the eighth. Mitchell had a sacrifice fly, and Pirruccello had a two-run single, giving him four RBIs on the day. 

Bulldog Victor Arreola picked up his first save of the season after coming in for Angelo and tossing 2.2 shutout innings. Angelo earned his second win of the year.

With the sweep, Fresno State improved to 13-9 overall and 7-4 in the Mountain West. The 7-4 record puts them in second place in the conference behind San Jose State, which is 4-2. 

The Bulldogs will host 6-14 Cal Poly for one game on Tuesday at 6:05 p.m. at Pete Beiden Field in Bob Bennett Stadium.