Diamond ‘Dogs face blowout in first round of Mountain West Championship


Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian

Ixan Henderson pitches for Fresno State at the Mountain West Championship on May 25, at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium.

By Alexis Bruno, Reporter

The 2023 Mountain West Baseball championship is taking place at the Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium. The Diamond ‘Dogs had a tough start in the first round with a 13-2 loss to San Jose State on Thursday, May 25. 

Coming into the tournament, third baseman Triston “Murf” Gray was awarded Mountain West Freshman of the Year. Gray finished the regular season as the second best hitter on the team, batting a .306 average and racking up eight home runs. He also accumulated seven Freshman of the Week awards throughout the season. 

“He had a special freshman year. [He’s] been there in the heart of the lineup for us all year with a lot of big hits. Been a guy that has had some hug at bats and has continued to grow all year,” said Interim Head Coach Ryan Overland.  

Gray is now the third Bulldog to earn the Freshman of the Year accolade, following Carter Bins in 2017 and Blake Quinn in 2013. 

Murf Gray at third base against San Jose State. (Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian)

 The Bulldogs opened up the game at bat with a solid hit by right fielder Grady Morgan, on an error by a Spartan shortstop Theo Hardy to get him on base. 

First baseman Tommy Hopfe continued the momentum with a double to left field, but the Spartans held strong by keeping the Bulldogs off the board. 

At the bottom of the first inning, Bulldog Ixan Henderson took on the pitching mound. A walk and a hit had the Bulldogs on the fence early in the game with two runners on base. Despite having no outs, the ‘Dogs remained aggressive. 

Gray closed out the inning with a line drive catch, keeping a scoreless game at the end of the first inning. Both defenses remained scoreless  until the end of the second inning. 

Spartan pitcher Jonathan Clark was faced with loaded bases in the third inning, as left fielder Bobby Blandford took up the batter’s box. Clark couldn’t fight the Red Wave chants, causing him to walk Blandford which brought in a runner. The Bulldogs took the first lead of the game 1-0.

“The crowd was amazing. In my 17 years as a Bulldog, I’m pretty sure that third inning is the loudest I’ve heard the stadium,” Overland said.  

Ben Newton looks at the pitcher as he leads off of first base. (Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian)

Although the Spartans trailed, they had a response. Right fielder James Shimashita hit a homerun down right field to tie the game at one. Shortly after, two back-to-back RBI’s gave the Spartans a 3-1 advantage to close off the inning.

Once again in the fourth inning, another homerun down right field by the Spartans brought in two RBIs to extend the lead 5-1. 

The ‘Dogs couldn’t find a way to stop the homeruns. The Spartans racked up its third homer to take a bigger margin at the bottom of the fifth. 

The Bulldogs looked to stop the momentum with an RBI hit by Morgan to get on the board again after a two inning drought, making the score 6-2. That would be the last run of the game for the Diamond ‘Dogs.

At the bottom of the seventh the Spartans accumulated three more runs to stay ahead. 

Grady Morgan gets a hit against the Spartans. (Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian)

The ‘Dogs pitchers continued to struggle, allowing another RBI by the Spartans to close out the eighth inning. The Bulldogs saw three different pitchers throughout the game, Henderson, Robbie Peters and Jaykob Acosta. 

“Ixan is a competitor, a Bulldog and somebody that lays his heart out every single pitch. He’s done it all year for us, it just wasn’t quite his day today,” Overland said.  

At the bottom of the eighth, a big 3 RBI home run by the Spartans ended the game on a 10 run rule implemented for the first round of the tournament. The Spartans defeated the ‘Dogs 13-2.

The tournament is double elimination style, allowing them to play another game.  

Fresno State will take on San Diego State today, May 26 at 1:30 p.m at Pete Beiden Field for Game 3 of the Mountain West Championship.