Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Jacqueline Carrillo
The Fresno State baseball team huddles ahead of its game against San Jose State on April 20 at Pete Bieden Field.

‘Dogs smash San Jose State on way to Mountain West Conference title

Fresno State crushed its way to a 16-11 victory over San Jose State on Sunday, May 26, in San Diego to win the Mountain West Conference (MWC) Championship. 

Despite having their backs against the wall after losing their first game of the double-elimination tournament, the ‘Dogs ran the table to hoist the trophy for the first time since 2019

Head Coach Ryan Overland was candid after the game on the Mountain West Network.

“We only won about four games in the last six weeks, so we knew to win four in a row it would be pretty special,” Overland said. 

Fresno State 16, San Jose State 11 (May 26)

Behind a thoroughly used pitching staff, the ‘Dogs turned to Jake Dixon who started two days earlier, to pitch the beginning of the game on Sunday afternoon. 

San Jose State first baseman Hunter Dorraugh got the best of Dixon in the first inning, with a home run to left center. Dixon was chased from the game after getting just an out in the second inning. 

He was replaced by pitcher Jaykob Acosta who struck out seven batters in 3.2 innings pitched and allowed just one run.  

Shortstop Ben Newton got the Bulldogs on the board with an RBI single in the top of the third inning. He would score on a two-run homer by first baseman Tommy Hopfe to take a 3-2 lead. 

The ‘Dogs added a pair of home runs in the fourth inning from left fielder Bobby Blandford and designated hitter Justin Stransky. Dorraugh cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo homer.

The Bulldogs offense erupted for a combined ten runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take a whopping 16-3 lead. 

The offense slugged its way to the tune of 20 hits including seven extra-base hits. Stransky and Bulldog catcher Tyler Davis each went 3-for-5 with a double and four runs batted in. 

The Spartans climbed their way back into the game with big help from Dorraugh who had a double, four home runs and seven runs batted in. Dorrough’s four home runs add him to the Mountain West record books, making him the third player ever to do that.  

Dalton Bowling also had a pair of home runs but it was not enough for Bulldog’s Bay Area rivals. 

The Diamond ‘Dogs clinched the Mountain West Title with a 16-11 win against the Spartans. 

How they got to the title

Fresno State’s road to the conference title was unusual. The ‘Dogs opened up the season as runaway contenders and improved to an overall record of 25-9 with a five-game lead in the conference after beating the University of New Mexico 23-19 on April 13. 

The ‘Dogs would crumble though, between losing starter Jack Anker for a month due to injury and inconsistencies on offense and defense, Fresno State won just four of its final 21 games of the regular season. 

Despite the rough finish to the year, the Bulldogs still managed to take the fourth and final seed into the conference tournament in San Diego. 

Air Force 3, Fresno State 2 (May 23)

The conference tournament started with the Dogs dropping its first game. Starter Jake Dixon struck out a career-high 10 batters in 6.1 innings pitched and the bullpen held the Falcons scoreless the rest of the way. 

Unfortunately, the Bulldogs offense was flat. Stransky singled in a run in the eighth inning but the rally came up short. 

Air Force took a 3-2 win to start the tournament. 

Fresno State 6, New Mexico 1 (May 24)

Fresno State rode behind Jake Riding to victory on Friday. The Bulldogs starter struck out nine in seven innings, allowing just one run. 

The offense came early with an RBI double from Murf Gray in the first. In the third inning, Grady Morgan belted a three-run homer. Michael McKernan also homered in the game as Fresno State kept its season alive with a 6-1 victory over the Lobos.

Fresno State 10, Air Force 3 (May 25)

Gray, who earned tournament MVP honors, opened the day for him and the Bulldogs with a solo homer in the second inning. Tyler Davis followed it up with a three-run blast the next inning. 

The run of strikeouts continued for Fresno State. ‘Dogs’ starter Noah Beal struck out 12 batters, tying a career-high, in 7.1 innings. The Bulldog’s offense scored in every inning except the first and ninth innings to the tune of 10 runs to give them its first win over Air Force in 2024, ending the Falcon’s season, 10-3. 

Fresno State 8, San Jose State 5 (May 25)

Despite once trailing 5-1, Fresno State climbed its way back and entered the top of the ninth inning tied on Saturday night. Gray doubled in Hopfe to take the lead. A couple of batters later with two runners on, the Bulldogs had Sky Collins up at the plate who came through with his first hit of the year. 

A single to center drove in two runs as the ‘Dogs finished off the doubleheader with an 8-5 victory over the Spartans. Newton homered earlier in the game and Victor Arreola threw four hitless innings in relief. 

Gray was the story of the day though, going 6-for-9 with four runs scored, four doubles, a walk and a pair of home runs while driving in six including the game-tying and go-ahead runs to lead the ‘Dogs. 

With the win the ‘Dogs forced a Game 7 to rematch the Spartans for the Mountain West Title. 

What’s next?

Winning the conference title means the Bulldogs have secured a spot in the NCAA tournament for the 36th time in program history. The Bulldogs (33-27) enter the tournament with the same record as it did 16 years ago when Fresno State won the National Championship. 

Coincidentally, Overland was a catcher on that 2008 team that went from ‘Underdogs to Wonderdogs.’ 

The ‘Dogs will go on to the Regionals to take on the University of California, Santa Barbara on Friday, May 31 at the Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

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