Spartans avoid sweep by Fresno State with extra-innings win

The Spartans took the third game of the series versus Fresno State after dropping the first two outings.

Preventing a three-game sweep by rival Fresno State, San Jose State baseball (7-15, 3-8 Mountain West) beat the visiting Bulldogs 3-2 in ten innings on Saturday and snapped a six-game losing streak. Fresno State (16-8, 6-3 MW) won the first two games in this series, 13-4 on Thursday and 9-4 on Friday.

The Spartans had 13 hits to the Bulldogs’ eight and committed two errors to Fresno State’s one. Relief pitcher Josh Goldberg (2-0, 5.51 ERA) earned the win for San Jose State. Goldberg held Fresno State to one hit in the final four innings. For Fresno State, Dylan Lee (2-2, 1.53 ERA) took the loss. In the last three innings, Lee gave up four hits, including the game-ending run.

For the first three innings, the game was a pitchers’ duel between Fresno State starter Edgar Gonzalez and San Jose State starter Josh Nashed. The third inning ended scoreless, with both teams having just one hit each.

In the top of the fourth, the Fresno State offense put runners on the corners with a double by Jake Stone and single by Brody Russell. Facing Aaron Arruda with an 0-2 count, Nashed threw a pickoff attempt past first baseman Shane Timmons. Both runners advanced on the error for a 1-0 Fresno State lead, but Arruda immediately popped out on the ensuing pitch. That unearned run would be the only score for Fresno State that inning. San Jose State responded with a run in the bottom of the fourth, off a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center field by Justin Beck that scored an Ozzy Braff RBI from third base. The tie would be just that at the end of the inning.

San Jose State’s defense held Fresno State to one hit in the top of the fifth, a single by Korby Batesole, son of Fresno State head coach Mike Batesole. With Scott Silva advancing to first on a bunt, Nashed threw out Batesole at second base. Shortstop Michael Breen ended the inning by tagging Silva on an attempt to steal second. Gonzalez was subbed out for Brennon Williams on the mound and San Jose State took the lead in the bottom of the fifth off of a double by Braff that bounced off the wall and sent Dillan Smith home. Despite Braff on second and Hunter Tidwell on third, San Jose State could not capitalize on a 2-1 lead, as Shane Timmons struck out swinging for the third out.

Following a 1-2-3 inning by Fresno State, Nashed had a lead-off walk, only to be caught stealing at second. That would become a costly out, as San Jose State would load the bases on a Beck walk and singles by Breen and Corey Olivet, only for the next two plays to result in outs.

Clutch infield plays restrained a Fresno State rally in the top of the seventh. Nashed was subbed out for Zach Wallace after giving up a walk and three singles that tied the game 2-2. Wallace came in for one at-bat, a left field flyout by Batesole, before Goldberg came in relief. Both at-bats subsequently led to outs, with Arruda being tagged at home plate and Silva being tagged at second.

Goldberg held Fresno State to 1-2-3 innings in the eighth and ninth. San Jose State put runners on base in those innings but could not send them home, especially due to questionable bunts by Breen and Joe Stefanki that landed straight in infielders’ gloves and two flyouts in the ninth. Regulation ended with two San Jose State runners stranded on base.

Fresno State threatened to take the lead in the top of the tenth, thanks to a lead-off Batesole single and Joe Prior sacrifice bunt that advanced Batesole to second. Zach Ashford then grounded out and sent San Jose State off the field. Nashed led off the bottom of the tenth with a left field single that landed out of reach of shortstop Batesole. Beck hit a sacrifice bunt that advanced Nashed to second, because this bunt actually landed on the ground unlike the two failed bunts. Lee then intentionally walked Breen, a strategy that would backfire, as Olivet walked on five pitches to load the bases. Aaron Pleschner came in to pinch hit for Smith. On a 1-0 count, Pleschner hit the ball towards center, and the ball bounced off the glove of a diving Russell. All runners were safe, including Breen, who would come in from third for the winning RBI.

“Our bullpen did a great job in getting outs and keeping [runs] to a minimum,” commented San Jose State head coach Dave Nakama. “We let [Fresno State] score a run, but we didn’t implode and let them score four runs.”

Nakama explained that the two failed bunts in the eighth and ninth innings resulted from players not executing a play or doing their jobs.

“We work on that every day,” said Nakama about bunting.

“When stuff goes wrong, we can’t get down…We showed a lot of fight,” added Braff.

“Everyone came through to score that winning run,” explained Pleschner.

San Jose State has a home game on Monday against Pac-12 opponent Stanford, before a two-week road trip that begins with out-of-conference opponents Santa Clara and Cal Poly, then a Mountain West series at Air Force and finally a visit to Stanford. Nakama commented that Stanford has depth in pitching and will be a challenge for his team.

Notes: A team spokesperson confirmed that junior left fielder Brett Bautista is out for the season due to a thumb injury...Nakama’s overall record at San Jose State is now 56-138, including 19-52 in the MW.

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