June 18, 2008


Brilliant Bulldog Bullpen, Part Two

Fresno State's relievers secure win over North Carolina


By Ben Trittipoe



OMAHA, Neb. – For the second straight day, a team destined to remain unbeaten in the 2008 College World Series got a great effort from its bullpen.


One day after Georgia rode its relief staff to the championship round of Bracket One, Fresno State did the same as it defeated North Carolina, 7-5, to advance to Friday’s championship round in Bracket Two.


Four relievers – left-hander Kris Tomlinson and right-handers Jason Breckley, Holden Sprague and Brandon Burke – combined to limit North Carolina to no runs and five hits over the final five innings Tuesday and give Fresno State its 13th win in its last 15 games.


Tomlinson was the first off the bench in the top of the fifth inning, inheriting two runners on base with no outs from starter Justin Miller. Tomlinson walked one – intentionally – and struck out one in two-thirds of an inning before giving way to Breckley (3-2), who picked up the win as he retired the only batter he faced to end the inning.


Sprague took over in the sixth and pitched into the eighth, allowing three hits before Burke came on to record the final out of the frame. He then retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth to record his 13th save.


“That’s a great hitting team over there,” Burke said. “To be able to keep them down to three runs speaks volumes. Tomlinson coming in when he did, he did an amazing job. He did exactly what we needed him to do. For Breckley to come in and get his one guy and actually get a win for that, it’s pretty special.”


Sprague and Burke noted the aggressiveness of the Tar Heel batters aided their cause.


“We were able to expand the zone just a tiny bit,” Sprague said. “They’re an aggressive team; however, they made you work a little bit.”


“I threw some pitches out of the zone that I got a couple swings on, a couple easy ground balls,” Burke said. “Their aggressiveness helped out a lot.”


North Carolina head coach Mike Fox agreed.


“Tonight I thought we chased, we swung at a lot of balls,” Fox said. “Credit the Fresno State pitchers. They pitched us off the plate a little bit and we pressed.


“The strike zone was small for both teams and I don’t think we took advantage of it offensively. Some of that’s good pitches and some of that is us trying too hard – pressing – our guys trying to make something happen by swinging.”