June 18, 2008


Fresno State continues to roll

Bulldogs are one win away from CWS Championship Series

Brilliant Bulldog Bullpen, Part Two

Quiet Tar Heel Bats

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


OMAHA, Neb. – They weren’t expected to be here.


Fresno State wasn’t supposed to be able win the Long Beach Regional as a No. 4 seed. The Bulldogs weren’t supposed to beat No. 3 Arizona State twice in the Tempe Super Regional. And they weren’t expected to keep that winning going at the College World Series.


But Fresno State is one victory away from a spot in the Championship Series after a 5-3 win over No. 2 North Carolina Tuesday evening in front of 23,314 at Rosenblatt Stadium to stay undefeated in Bracket Two.


The Tar Heels (52-13) will face No. 7 LSU on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET in an elimination game. The winner will meet Fresno State on Friday at 7 p.m. and would have to beat the Bulldogs twice to reach the Championship Series.


“These guys have decided long ago that they’re not going to play who’s in the other dugout or the name across the uniform,” said FS head coach Mike Batesole, “they’re just going to play baseball. It’s been fun for me as a coach to go out and watch them do it.”


Fresno State struck first as Ryan Overland hit a two-out homer in the second, his fourth, to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.


The momentum shifted in the bottom of the third. Fresno State has runners on first and second with one out. Erik Wetzel struck out swinging and UNC catcher Tim Federowicz picked off Gavin Hedstrom at first for the inning-ending double play.


UNC carried that momentum into the fourth. Kyle Shelton led off with a single to left. Tim Fedroff tripled over the head of centerfielder Hedstrom to plate Shelton with the tying run. One out later, Kyle Seager doubled to left to bring home Fedroff. Seager scored on a base hit by Chad Flack to give the Tar Heels a 3-1 advantage.


The Bulldogs answered in the bottom of the frame as Steve Susdorf led off with a dinger, his 12th, to pull Fresno State to within one at 3-2.


Momentum swung back to the Bulldogs in the fifth. In the top of the stanza, UNC loaded the bases with one out, but did not score. Alan Ahmady’s two-run single in the bottom of the inning pushed FS back on top 4-3.


The Tar Heels had a leadoff double in the sixth by Mark Fleury, but he would not advance.


Fresno State missed a pair of scoring chances, loading the bases with no outs in the sixth and putting two on with none away in the seventh, only to come away empty. The Bulldogs did add an insurance run in the eighth as Danny Muno singled to reach base for the fifth time. He was sacrificed to second and scored on a base hit by Wetzel to make it 5-3.


Fresno State’s bullpen combined to pitch five scoreless innings with four hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Jason Breckley (3-2) earned the win and Brandon Burke worked the final 1.1 innings to record his 13th save.


“Fresno State certainly outplayed us and out-executed us,” said UNC head coach Mike Fox. “I really like the way they play. For a depleted pitching staff, they pitched pretty well tonight. They matched up when they needed to in the middle of the game and their relievers got it done, made some big pitches. We couldn’t get the big hit, couldn’t get the two-out hit, which I think you have to on this stage to advance. My hat’s off to Fresno State. We’ll regroup and try again on Thursday.”


The freshman Muno was 3 for 3 in the leadoff spot for Fresno State. He walked once, was hit by a pitch, and scored once. Wetzel also had three hits for the Bulldogs with one run and one RBI.


Shelton, Fedroff, Flack and Williams each had a pair of hits for the Tar Heels.