May 31, 2008


Wilson leads Fresno State past Long Beach State


By Abbey Mastracco


LONG BEACH, Calif. — When Fresno State ace Tanner Scheppers went down with a shoulder injury, Fresno State looked to be overmatched against the strong arms the Bulldogs would be facing in the Long Beach Regional.


But Justin Wilson wasn’t about to count his team out, the only thing he was about to count was his strikeouts, which amounted to 11 in seven innings in the No. 4-seeded Fresno State’s 7-3 upset victory over No. 1-seeded host school Long Beach State in front of 1,958 Friday night at Blair Field.


“Like he does every time he pitches, he leaves it all out there,” said Bulldog head coach Mike Batesole. “He’s pitched very well for us the past two or three years, but I’ve seen him have that stuff maybe 10 or 12 times.”


Wilson (7-4) gave up two runs, limiting the Dirtbags to just three hits and walking three.


“The name of the game was Justin Wilson,” said Dirtbag head coach Mike Weathers. “He pretty much dominated us. We couldn’t do much off of him.”


Andrew Liebel (8-4) had a particularly uncharacteristic outing for Long Beach State. The senior right-hander, known for his impeccable control and fast pace, faltered early on.


“[Liebel] attacks hitters early, that’s his strength, his numbers prove that,” Batesole said. “The only answer is to attack him back.”


“Our plan was just to take away that fastball and I think we did a good job of that,” said Fresno State left fielder Steve Susdorf.


Liebel pitched himself into trouble in the second, hitting Steve Susdorf, throwing a wild pitch and giving up an RBI-double and an RBI-single to Alan Ahmady and Tommy Mendonca. Liebel allowed seven earned on nine hits in seven and 2/3 innings, walking two, hitting one, striking out five and being charged with two balks in his fourth loss on the season.


“He had some counts that where deep where he wasn’t really effective early,” Weathers said. “I don’t think Andrew’s breaking ball was real good early.”


Liebel looked to have calmed down going into the eighth inning, having put down seven of his last eight batters, but Susdorf claimed a leadoff double off Liebel, and Ahmady followed suit with a single. A Trent Soares fly ball scored Susdorf, putting the Bulldogs at 5-2. Ryan Overland stuck out, but Jordan Detwiler kept the inning alive with a double off the right field wall. A balk advanced Liebel and Nick Vincent came on in relief. But Jordan Ribera striped a single through the gap in right to blow the game open and give the Bulldogs a 7-2 advantage.


Batesole was impressed with the game his hitters put together, given the pitcher’s park they were playing in.


“We had a couple of outs where we moved runners and that’s what it takes in this ballpark,” Batesole said. “You’ve gotta throw strikes, move runners and get outs.”


Susdorf and Ahmady gave Liebel the most trouble, as both went 2 for 3 with two runs, Susdorf with an RBI and Ahmady with two. Susdorf was also hit by a pitch and walked. Brandon Godfrey was the only Dirtbag to tally more than one hit, as he went 2 for 3 with three RBI and was hit by a pitch.


The Bulldogs (38-27) advance to the winner’s bracket of the Long Beach Regional and will face San Diego tomorrow night at 6 p.m. The Dirtbags (37-20) will play California tomorrow at 2 p.m.