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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Diamond ‘Dogs win first series of the season

Bulldog+infielder%2C+Murf+Gray+swings+at+the+Pete+Beiden+Field+at+Bob+Bennett+Stadium+on+Feb.+16.+
Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian
Bulldog infielder, Murf Gray swings at the Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium on Feb. 16.

The Fresno State men’s baseball team won its first season series against the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, in back-to-back nail-biters.

The ‘Dogs ended last season with a 30-27 record and were 16-14 in conference play. Ryan Overland, former interim head coach for the Diamond ‘Dogs, has taken the position of head coach for the team this season.

“It’s a big honor,” Overland said. “It’s an honor to lead this program that I’ve been a part of for so long.”

Fresno State 7, Milwaukee 3 (Feb. 16)

On the mound for Fresno State in Game 1 was Jake Dixon, who made eight starts in 2023. He allowed zero hits for the Panthers in the first inning.

The Bulldogs’ offense started strong, with second baseman Eddie Saldivar singling to left field for the ‘Dogs first hit. He eventually advanced to third after two wild pitches from Milwaukee pitcher Luke Hansel, putting him in scoring position.

Third baseman Murf Gray hit a sacrifice fly to left field, allowing Saldiver to score and put the ‘Dogs on top 1-0. The inning ended with left fielder Rocco Peppi grounding out to third base.

The game remained 1-0 until the fifth inning when the Panthers took the lead with two runs.

Milwaukee left fielder Q Phillips then got on base with a single up the middle. In the next at-bat, right fielder Dallan Quigley reached base on an error from Fresno State catcher Justin Stransky.

Milwaukee shortstop Tyler Bickers hit a triple down the right field line, bringing in Phillips and Quigley, putting Milwaukee ahead 2-1 in the top of the fifth.

In the seventh inning, Bulldog shortstop Ben Newton, who led the ‘Dogs with 2 hits and 3 RBIs that game, tripled, allowing first baseman Marco Pirruccello to score. The inning ended with the score tied at 2-2.

In the eighth inning, the Diamond ‘Dogs were able to score five runs with only one hit during their at-bat.

Fresno State got three batters on base after two hit players and one walk. A wild pitch allowed Gray to score from third. Then Newton doubled to center, earning two RBIs.

An error from Milwaukee’s left fielder brought two Bulldog runners in, making the score 7-2.

Milwaukee was able to score one more run in the ninth inning but fell short 7-3.

Fresno State 9, Milwaukee 3 (Feb. 17)

Fresno State senior transfer Noah Beal started on the mound in Game 2. Beal started in 11 games for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2023 with a 6.88 ERA. The Panthers gained one unearned run in the first inning, but the Diamond ‘Dogs’ offense responded promptly during their first at-bat of the game.

Fresno State took a 2-1 lead in the first inning after Gray’s two-run homer in his first at-bat of the game.

Bulldog first baseman Tommy Hopfe got things going again in the third inning with a double to right field. He then advanced to third after Gray flew out to right field. A wild pitch from Milwaukee pitcher Adrian Montilva allowed Hopfe to score and make the score 3-1.

The Panthers answered back in the next inning with two runs to tie things up.

Similar to Game 1, the score remained tied until Fresno State took the lead in the eighth inning after gaining six runs with two errors from Milwaukee. A double from Peppi allowed Hopfe to score, who doubled during his at-bat. Right fielder Grady Morgan then stepped up and hit a two-run homer. The crowd cheered as he rounded third and headed for home.

Fresno State loaded the bases soon after as Pirruccello made it on base from an error while center fielder Bobby Blandford and Stransky were both hit by a pitch.

Bulldog infielder, Marco Pirruccello steps on base at the Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium on Feb. 16. (Jacqueline Carrillo)

A single to right field from Saldivar brought in two runs as Stransky advanced to third. A wild pitch also allowed him to score, which made the score 9-3.

Bulldog right-handed pitcher Jake Riding closed the game with back-to-back strikeouts to win the series.

Fresno State 2, Milwaukee 0 (Feb. 18)

The ‘Dogs continued to perform well in Game 3 as Jack Anker started on the mound with three strikeouts in the first inning. Anker made 21 appearances during the 2023 season as a freshman and posted a 5.36 ERA.

Fresno State was first to score after Pirruccello grounded out to second base allowing Peppi to score from third in the second inning and take the 1-0 lead.

A home run from Morgan in the sixth inning extended the Diamond ‘Dogs lead to 2-0 which would eventually be the final score of the game after a dominating performance from Fresno State’s defense.

Anker pitched six innings with five strikeouts, faced 23 batters and had 82 total pitches. Aiden Cremarosa pitched the next two innings and had three strikeouts. Hopfe was the closer in the final inning.

“It was a great day for us,” Anker said after the game. “I think we’re going to be a great team going forward and can’t wait to see what the team does in the future.”

The ‘Dogs closed out the game defeating the Panthers 2-0.

Fresno State is now 3-0 overall and will travel to face Sacramento State for its next game on Feb. 21.

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