Fresno State Powerball too Much for Spartans

Fresno State slugged back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead for good, and went on to defeat San Jose State 6-3 in the second round of the Napa Auto Parts WAC Baseball Tournament.

No. 1 San Jose State and No. 3 Fresno State traded runs early in their second round game of the Napa Auto Parts WAC Baseball Tournament at Les Murakami Stadium in Honolulu. Hawai'i, played Friday afternoon. However, the Bulldog bats proved too much at the end as FSU hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead for good. Both teams now have one loss in the double elimination tournament.

San Jose State opened the game with senior left-hander David Berner on the mound. For 2009 Berner  went 7-1 and led the WAC in ERA at 3.00, and strikeouts with 81. His opposite for Fresno State, freshman right hander Derek Benny, went 3-3 on the season with a 5.40 ERA.

The Spartans and Bulldogs split their four-game regular season series at Municipal Stadium. SJSU won the finale in thrilling fashion when Junior Kyle Bellows knocked an 0-2 pitch from senior Holden Sprague into right-center field, scoring Michael Reiling to conclude a three-run rally.

Sophomore Jason Martin led off the game with a grounder to short for the first out. Senior John Shaffer followed that with a single up the middle. Bellows, hero of game one with two home runs, was caught looking at strike three in his turn at the plate for the second out. Junior third baseman Corey Valine hit a grounder to the right side that forced Shaffer at second for the third out.

Fresno State sophomore Danny Muno started things off in the Bulldog half of the first with a single to right field. Freshman Dusty Robinson then hit into a double play with a grounder to Bellows at short. Junior Tom Mendonca then struck out swinging to end the inning.

Senior Jacob Bruns opened the Spartan second by striking out swinging. Junior Karson Kluaer followed with a grounder to short for the second out. Sophomore Danny Steinstra knocked a shot down the left field line for a double, and scored when senior Anthony Aguilera singled up the middle. Aguilera was then caught attempting to steal second base.

Fresno State responded in the bottom of the second with back-to-back hits. Sophomore Jake Johnson hit a double down right field line, and advanced to third when freshman Brennan Gowens singled to left. Johnson scored on a sacrifice fly to right by junior Steve Detwiler. Senior Gavin Hedstrom kept things going for the Bulldogs with a single to right, putting FSU runners on first and second with one out. Gowens was tagged out at third on an attempted double steal. Hedstrom made is safely to second. Freshman Trent Garrison struck out swinging for the third out.

Sophomore Craig Hertler led off the next stanza with a fly to left field that got past Robinson, allowing the Spartan designated hitter to get to third base. He scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Martin. The Spartans failed to score again in the inning as Shaffer popped up to first, and Bellows grounded out to short.

Fresno State struck back in the bottom of the third when, after junior Isacc Vivas popped out to first, Muno singled to left but was forced out at second when Robinson grounded to second. Robinson then stole second and scored when Mendonca singled up the middle. Johnson grounded to short and Mendonca was forced at second for out number three.

SJSU went out quietly in the third when Valine grounded to short for the first out. After Bruns walked, Klauer grounded into a double play to end the top half of the fourth with the teams locked up at two a piece.

Gowens opened the bottom of the fourth with a walk. Detwiler then grounded into a double play to clear the bases. Hedstrom reached first with a two-out single to center, then was thrown out trying to steal second base. Berner was attempting to pick him off at first when he left for second.

Danny Steinstra led off the SJSU fifth with a pop out to second base. Aguilera was hit by a pitch, the 101 time this season a Spartan has been beaned, and advanced to second when Hertler grounded out to third. Martin ended the Spartan scoring threat when he grounded out to third for the final out of the inning.

Fresno State went down in order in the bottom of the fifth. Garrison started off the with a groundout to first, followed by a Vivas grounder to Bellows at short for the second out. Out number three came when Muno flied out to Bruns in right.

The Spartans started off the top of the sixth quietly, but made some noise later. Shaffer started off with a pop up to third for the first out. Bellows then walked and was caught attempting to steal second. Valine singled to center. Bruns followed with a double to center that scored Valine. Klauer silenced the Spartan attack with a ground out to third.

Robinson answered the SJSU score in their half of the sixth, and tied the game, with a solo home run to left field.  Mendonca followed that up with a round trip of his own to left. Berner got Johnson to ground out to Bellows for the first out.  He then mowed down Gowens swinging. Detwiler got on base with a single between second and third.  Senior Max Peterson came in to relieve Berner and gave up a single to Hedstrom down the right field line. Detwiler went to third, giving the Bulldogs runners at the corners with two outs and a 4-3 lead. That's as far as they got as Garrison grounded out to end the barrage.

Berner went 5.2 innings and gave up 10 hits, including the back-to-back home runs by Robinson and Mendonca, four earned runs, three strikeouts and a walk.

SJSU threated in the top of the seventh. Steinstra led off the inning with a fly out to right for the first out. Aguilera singled to left, followed by a Hertler fly to left for out number two. Martin then singled to left, with Aquilers moving to second. Shaffer loaded the bases with a single to left but it was for naught as Bellows left them stranded when he grounded out to short.

Vivas grounded out to Klauer at second for the first out in the bottom of the seventh. Muno followed with a grounder to Bellows at short. Robinson reached first on a walk and scored when Mendonca doubled to left and Shaffer erred on the throw. Johnson then singled to left, scoring Mendonca. Johnson moved to second on the attempt to throw out Mendonca at home. He then moved to third on a passed ball. Gowens got on base when he was hit by a pitch. SJSU Senior Trevor Gibson came on in relief of Peterson. FSU freshman Kenny Wise pinch hit for Detwiler with runners on first and third and two out. The Fresno State attack ended when Johnson was caught attempting to steal home on a failed safety squeeze attempt.

Valine grounded out to short to start off the top of the eighth, and Bruns followed with a fly out to center. Bruns started off the at bat 3-0 before hitting the fly on a 3-2 pitch. Kluaer then struck out swinging, and was thrown out at first as it got by FSU catcher Garrison.

Freshman Michael Reiling came in to play second for Klauer in the bottom of the eighth. Wise moved to designated hitter for FSU and led off with a single to left. Sophomore Trent Soares came in to run for Wise. Hedstrom moved Soares to second with a sacrifice bunt. Garrison got on with an infield single to once again place runners at the corners for the Bulldogs. Soares was thrown out at home when he was caught too far off the bag at third after a pitchout. Aguilera threw to third and Soares broke for home where he was tagged out by Aguilera. Vivas had been threatening to bunt a squeeze play, prompting the pitchout. Vivas then walked. Muno then fouled out to left for the third out.

Steinstra began the SJSU ninth with a single to left. Aguilera hit a grounder to third that forced Steinstra at second. Senior Tyler Heil came in to pinch run for Aguilera. Hertler then flied out to left. The top of the order came to bat in Jason Martin. He flied out to left field to end the game.

The Spartans will face No. 2 seed Louisiana Tech at 11 a.m. local time on Saturday in an elimination game. The winner of that game will take on No. 4 New Mexico State at 7:00 p.m. local time. Fresno State will face Hawai'i at 3:00 p.m. local time.

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