Fresno State Bulldogs fall into WAC baseball cellar
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs sweep four-game series.
Sunday, Apr. 19, 2009
The Fresno Bee
If you hadn't been too concerned about the Fresno State baseball team's up-and-down play, now it's time to worry.
And worry a lot.
The defending national champions have looked like a complete mess on the road all season -- but not as bad as the Bulldogs looked this past weekend.
DARRELL WONG / THE FRESNO BEE
Fresno State's Holden Sprague and the Bulldogs have dropped to the bottom of the WAC baseball standings.
Fresno State was swept by Louisiana Tech in four games at J.C. Love Field in Ruston, La., and sent to the cellar of the Western Athletic Conference.
Fresno State lost 14-12 and 14-6 on Sunday to a Louisiana Tech team that, entering the series, was the last-place team in the WAC.
Fresno State (18-20 overall, 2-6 WAC) fell 51/2 games behind first-place New Mexico State (32-8, 7-5), severely hindering the Bulldogs' run at a fourth straight WAC regular-season title.
And the gap could widen, with Fresno State dropping to 1-14 away from Beiden Field this season and five more road games (four WAC games) to go before returning home.
In Sunday's nightcap, Fresno State wasted Jake Johnson's grand slam and a five-run first inning as Louisiana Tech (18-16, 5-7) teed off on Fresno State's top pitcher, Holden Sprague, with five home runs. Sprague gave up eight hits, three walks and 10 runs (nine earned) in five innings.
Louisiana Tech amassed 14 hits and took advantage of four Fresno State errors, which turned into three unearned runs.
Louisiana Tech's Nick Grunewald went 2 for 3 with a homer, four RBIs and four runs.
Fresno State got little production after the first, held to four hits and one run the rest of the way. No Fresno State player notched multiple hits, blanked for five innings by Louisiana Tech reliever Mike Jefferson, who had an 8.80 ERA in 30 2/3 innings entering the contest. Jefferson relieved Louisiana Tech starter Casey Jones after Fresno State got to him for five runs in 1 1/3 innings.
Johnson was Fresno State's top hitter, going 1 for 4 with four RBIs thanks to his grand slam.
In the earlier game, Fresno State committed similar mistakes as poor starting pitching and a handful of Fresno State errors cost the California Bulldogs the game.
Starting pitcher Derek Benny was roughed up on three home runs and finished with 11 runs allowed (nine earned) on 13 hits.
Louisiana Tech amassed 17 hits, and Fresno State shortstop Danny Muno committed two errors.
Still, Fresno State had the lead heading into the bottom of the eighth after Johnson hit a two-run homer in the inning's top half to put Fresno State ahead 12-11.
But with the bullpen stretched thin over the weekend because of injuries and a lot of Louisiana Tech hits, Fresno State coach Mike Batesole turned to a position player on the mound.
Reserve infielder Ryan Allgrove gave up three runs off three hits and never logged an out as Louisiana Tech took a 14-12 lead.
Fresno State then went down in order in the ninth to seal Louisiana Tech's win.
Starting third baseman Tommy Mendonca, who set Fresno State's all-time home run record Saturday, hit his 45th career home run with a solo shot in the second inning. Mendonca did not homer in the nightcap.
Fresno State, which has lost eight of its past 10 games, continues its nine-game road trip Friday, opening a four-game series at San Jose State.