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Diamond ‘Dogs conference opener ends with mercy rule win

Bulldog+utility+player+Tommy+Hopfe+gets+Aztecs+player+out+on+March+3+at+the+Pete+Beiden+Field+at+Bob+Bennett+Stadium.++
Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian
Bulldog utility player Tommy Hopfe gets Aztecs player out on March 3 at the Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium.

From a not-so-great start in the first game of the doubleheader to mercy ruling them the very next game, Fresno State won the series against San Diego State University from March 2-3. 

The Mountain West Policy regarding the mercy rule is that a game is completed if a team is ahead by at least 10 runs after the seventh inning on a travel day during a series. 

In Fresno State’s last outing, it faced California State University, Fullerton, where they would beat them 2-1 in the series. Bulldog pitcher Jack Anker continued to perform well on the mound, earning his second win and pitched a career-high seven innings. 

Anker again came in clutch for the ‘Dogs, coming close to yet another shutout in game three.  He kept the Aztecs scoreless until the seventh inning. After gaining a substantial lead, the offense also helped Anker be more at ease on the mound.

“It helps for any pitcher, really,” said Anker. “It helps give you the confidence to just go out there, trust your stuff, and get the job done.” 

Fresno State 12, San Diego State 6 (March 2)

Jake Dixon started on the mound for the Bulldogs in game one of the series. He has three wins and 20 total strikeouts so far this season. 

The ‘Dogs were first to score after second baseman Eddie Saldivar got on base first from a walk and advanced to second on a balk. First baseman Tommy Hopfe grounded out to second, allowing Saldivar to advance to third, and third baseman Murf Gray brought him in after flying out to right field. The score was 1-0 at the end of the first inning. 

A balk occurs when the pitcher makes an illegal motion on the mound, resulting in any runner on base to advance to the next base. 

In the second inning, Fresno State scored seven runs, giving the offense some early momentum. It started with Bulldog shortstop Ben Newton singling to third base. After catcher Tyler Davis singled through the left field side advancing Newton to third. 

Bulldog center fielder Michael McKernan then earns an RBI off a bunt. Saldivar bunts as well and reached on an error from the Aztec third baseman Colby Turner, Davis to score. Gray’s single to right field brings in Mckernan and Hopfe, who was walked just before.

Back-to-back doubles from Bulldog left fielder Rocco Peppi and right fielder Grady Morgan brought in another three runs to end the rally. Morgan eventually got out by stealing home to close out the inning, 8-0. 

The game would pick back up in the fifth inning, where both teams earned some runs. During the Aztec’s at-bat, catcher Evan Sipe doubled down the right-field line. A single from second baseman Finely Bates brought in Sipe, giving the Aztecs their only run of the inning. 

After Bulldog designated hitter Lee Trevino advanced to second base and a pitch hit Newton, Gray hit into a double play. With two outs, Fresno State continued fighting and made the bases loaded. 

Hopfe stepped up and doubled down the right field line, bringing in all three runners. The inning ended after Peppi struck out looking, the score being 11-1. 

San Diego State gained some momentum in the eighth inning after a Fresno State pitching change from Jaykob Acosta to Bryce Armstrong. San Diego State had already scored one run with the bases loaded. After four more earned runs, making the score 11-6, Fresno State changed pitchers again. 

Aidan Cremarosa came in to pitch for Armstrong and closed the game with four strikeouts, facing only five batters. The final score was 12-6. 

Fresno State 1, San Diego State 7 (March 3)

Noah Beal started on the mound for Fresno State in their second game against San Diego State. He now has a 4.09 ERA and one win and one loss this season. 

The Aztecs were on the board first in game one of the doubleheader. During their first at-bat of the game, Bates doubled to left center. A wild pitch from Beal allowed Bates to advance to third. 

Turner singled to right field, putting San Diego State on the board and making it 1-0. Another double and wild pitch later, the score was 2-0. First baseman Tino Bethancourt strikes out, looking to end the inning. 

Back-to-back singles from the Aztecs got things going in the second inning. Turner then stepped up and doubled after hitting it down the third baseline. One runner scored and another advanced to third. 

Aztec left fielder Irvin Weems singled but advanced to second after an error from Fresno State catcher Justin Stransky. Two scored, making it 5-0. 

The game remained scoreless until the fifth inning when the Aztecs scored another run. Jackson started them off with a double down the left-field line. Jacob McCombs, Aztec’s designated hitter, singled to right field, allowing Jackson to score and make it 6-0.

Bulldog Jack Anker pitches ball on March 3 at the Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium. (Jacqueline Carrillo)

San Diego State gets its last run of the game in the seventh inning after Turner homers to left field.

The Bulldogs got some momentum in the 8th inning, starting with Bulldog second baseman Eddie Saldivar, being hit by a pitch. Left fielder Tommy Hopfe doubled to right field, bringing in Saldivar and giving the ‘Dogs their only run that game. 

Game two ended with the score being 7-1. 

Fresno State 11, San Diego State 1 (March 3)

Anker was on the mound for the final game of the series. He struck out eight of the 26 batters he faced and pitched seven innings with a total pitch count of 87. 

The ‘Dogs began the scoring in the first inning. Saldivar doubled to left field for the ‘Dogs first hit. Gray grounded out to first but allowed Saldivar to score, putting Fresno State on top 1-0. 

In the fourth inning, the ‘Dogs gained momentum after Peppi homered to right field, his first of the season. Later that inning, they gained two more runs from back-to-back doubles by Davis and McKernan. Saldivar struck out swinging to end the inning at 4-0. 

The Bulldogs put runs on the board in every inning for the rest of the game, including a home run from Saldivar in the sixth, also his first of the season. 

He talked about the homer and his thoughts on the last game in a post-game interview. 

“It felt good,”  Saldivar said. “We had a hard-fought win in the third game and it was good to get back on track.”

The Aztecs gained a single run in the seventh inning, preventing Anker from earning another shutout, but inevitably got mercy-ruled in the eighth after Bulldog pinch-hitter Marco Pirruccello earned two RBIs with a single to right field. The final score was 11-1. 

The ‘Dogs are now 7-3 overall and 2-1 in Mountain West Conference play. Their next match will be against the University of the Pacific at the Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium on March 5th.

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