Spartans leave Diamond ‘Dogs emotional after 11-8 loss


Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian

Marco Pirruccello up at the plate for Game 5 of the Mountain West Tournament.

By Alexis Bruno, Reporter

Tears rolled down the faces of Fresno State players leaving the dugout as the Spartans moved to the championship round of the Mountain West Tournament. 

On Saturday, May 27, Fresno State was defeated for the second time by San Jose State, 11-8, at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium.

“It hurts. The guys put a lot into this, every single day,” said Interim Head Coach Ryan Overland. 

Grady Morgan runs into home plate, earning the Diamond ‘Dogs a run. (Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian)

The ‘Dogs began the game strong with two hits from right fielder Grady Morgan and center fielder Nikoh Mitchell. 

The momentum kept going for the Diamond ‘Dogs’ as third baseman Triston “Murf” Gray followed with an RBI hit down center field to get on the board 1-0. 

The Spartans didn’t back down, and a three RBI home run by left fielder Robert Hamchuk gave the Spartans a 3-1 lead at the end of the second inning. 

At the top of the third inning, the Diamond ‘Dogs’ kept it a close game. Mitchell reached first base on a fielder’s choice to bring in shortstop Travis Welker. 

The Red Wave chanted “Let’s go Bulldogs” as first baseman Tommy Hopfe stepped onto the plate. A palpable tension arose, but Hopfe didn’t disappoint, hitting a grounder to right field for an RBI to tie the game at three a piece. 

Fresno State fans cheer during a win-or-go-home game against San Jose State. (Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian)

The ‘Dogs struck again with a single by left fielder Bobby Blandford which gave them the lead, 4-3. 

In a back-to-back game the Spartan’s remained aggressive. Center fielder Jack Colette opened up the bottom of the third inning with a home run to once again to tie the game. 

The Diamond ‘Dogs’ couldn’t find a way to stop the runs, allowing the Spartans to accumulate four home runs throughout the entire game. 

Mitchell started the top of the fourth inning with a base hit to bring in two runs. The ‘Dogs took a 6-4 lead. 

The Spartans matched the energy accumulating four more runs to take back the game with an 8-6 lead.

Bulldog Bobby Blandford steals and slides into home plate against the Spartans. (Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian)

The home run fest didn’t stop for San Jose, racking up two more by right fielder James Shimashita and second baseman Charles McAdoo to bring in three runs, extending the lead 11-6. 

The Diamond ‘Dogs’ significantly trailed but their runs didn’t stop. An overthrown pitch by Van Allen sent Blandford home to cut the deficit. 

Mitchell kept the ‘Dogs within range with a laser homerun to right field, making it a 3-run game. 

After a scoreless eighth inning from Fresno State San Jose State held the final score at 11-8..  

Despite not having the outcome they would’ve wanted, Overland told The Collegian what he took away from the experience of playing in the Mountain West Tournament.   

“The way we played the last couple of weeks of doing it the right way and figuring out how to win and how to win in this conference and carrying that forward. That’s the job of those guys that will be returning,” Overland said. 

The Diamond ‘Dogs ended their 2023 season seated fourth in the Mountain West with a 30-27 overall record and going 16-14 in conference play.  

Ben Newton looks towards the dugout as he celebrates a single. (Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian)