Fresno State baseball wins crucial series against San Diego State


Marcos Acosta/The Collegian

Fresno State baseball players celebrate at home plate after a 3-run home run.

By Dylan Gonzales, Reporter

Coming into the series against San Diego State having lost six straight games, Fresno State’s baseball team needed a spark to turn its season around and regain its winning ways.

After losing an extra-innings thriller to open the series, the ‘Dogs won the last two games due to great pitching performance from Roman Angelo in Game 2 and clutch hitting in Game 3. 

As a result of his brilliant outing, Angelo was named the Mountain West Pitcher of the Week. 

The Bulldogs are currently ranked third in the Mountain West with a 9-8 record, trailing San Jose State (11-4) and San Diego State (8-5).

The ‘Dogs are hopeful that the last two games of this series will get them back to playing their best baseball.

“I think us playing like we did the past two games leading into the rest of the year should have us rolling,” three-time Mountain West Freshman of the Week Murf Gray told The Collegian following the series finale.

Tommy Hopfe hits the ball at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium. (Marcos Acosta/The Collegian) 

April 14, Fresno State 3, San Diego State 4 (10 innings) 

Pitcher Ixan Henderson rebounded nicely following his worst start of the season against Air Force. Henderson recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts. Despite the high strikeout performance, Henderson struggled to keep runners off the bases. In his 6.2 innings, Henderson gave up eight hits, four walks and hit two batters. He was able to minimize the damage as he only gave up two earned runs, despite frequent traffic on the bases. 

The Aztecs scored one run in the second and one in the fifth. The third run came after Henderson had exited the game in the seventh inning. The run scored on a single off Bulldog pitcher Zach Statzer.

The Bulldogs offense struggled to get going, recording only three hits through the first seven innings. In the eighth, Gray hit a game-tying three-run home run. The ‘Dogs were able to load the bases with two outs, but were unable to capitalize as catcher Tyler Davis flew out.  

San Diego State took the lead off pitcher Jack Anker to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the 10th inning. Fresno State had a chance to extend the game or win, but all three batters struck out to end the game and extend the Bulldog losing streak to seven games. 

The offense struggled for Fresno State as it only hit .167 in the game. DH Tommy Hopfe got his strong weekend started with a multi-hit game and was the only Bulldog to pick up multiple hits.

Hopfe and Ben Newton in a rundown with an Aztec runner. (Marcos Acosta/The Collegian)

April 15, Fresno State 4, San Diego State 0

Angelo had his best start of the season as he pitched a season-high eight shutout innings and allowed only five baserunners. 

Angelo pitched so well that the Aztecs believed that Angelo had a foreign substance on his glove, which fired up Angelo and the Bulldog crowd. 

The game was scoreless until the fifth inning when right fielder Michael McKernan picked up an RBI single to give the ‘Dogs a 1-0 lead. McKernan also recorded his first multi-hit game of the season.  First baseman Jaden Sheppard also had a multi-hit game and recorded his first extra-base hit of the season.

Fresno State added three runs in the sixth inning, all coming on home runs. Gray hit the first one of the inning while Hopfe added a two-run homer blast later. 

Although his hitting streak was snapped in the series finale, Gray had hit safely in nine straight games. During that span, he had a slugging percentage of .838. 

Gray credited his teammates for his recent success.

“Just all the training I do with the team, it’s a team game. I go in there and get hacks in consistently and don’t take anything for granted,” Gray said. 

Hopfe, who also serves as the team’s closer, recorded the final three outs to snap the Dogs’ season-long seven-game losing streak.

The ‘Dogs hit .364 with two outs and had three two-out RBIs.

Travis Welker gets and out for Fresno State. (Marcos Acosta/The Collegian)

April 16, Fresno State 5, San Diego State 4

Even though he usually pitches out of the bullpen, Trevor Garcia got the start for the ‘Dogs. Garcia pitched four innings and pitched better than the box score shows. In his four innings, he gave up only five baserunners.  One of the hits was a double after it deflected off the glove of Gray who was shifted over against a left handed hitter. The ball was deflected enough to put it no man’s land in between Gray and left fielder Bobby Blandford, allowing the speedy Shawn Montoya to reach second base. Garcia was able to pitch around it as he got out of the inning scoreless. 

The finale was back and forth with both teams holding leads throughout the game. 

The Aztecs scored first on a sacrifice fly in the second inning. The ‘Dogs took the lead in the third inning with two runs. Second baseman Ben Newton scored on a sacrifice bunt, and Davis scored on an RBI single by center fielder Nikoh Mitchell. 

San Diego State regained the lead in the fourth on a long home run by catcher Poncho Ruiz off of Garcia. 

Hopfe hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the sixth inning to give the ‘Dogs a 4-3 lead. The Aztecs leveled the score a four in the next inning with a solo home run from Xaiver Gonzalez off of reliever Victor Arreola. That would be the only run Arreola allowed in three solid innings of relief. 

Once again the ‘Dogs took the lead. After a long at bat with several pickoff attempts that frustrated the large crowd of 3,896, Davis took a 3-2 pitch the other way to put runners on first and third.

Davis also had a strong game behind the plate, throwing out multiple would-be base stealers. One of which was originally called safe but eventually got overturned, which enraged San Diego State Head Coach Mark Martinez and fired up the Red Wave.

Shortstop Travis Welker hit a sacrifice fly to score Newton which ended up being the winning run. 

Anker pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Hopfe picked up his seventh save of the season with a 1-2-3 inning. 

After a critical series win, the ‘Dogs will head to Stockton to face the 10-23 Pacific Tigers. They will return home on April 21 for a huge series against the first-place Spartans.