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Judge for yourself how good
this Bulldog can be
By Taylor Gelbrich @According2Gelby
Baseball wasn’t even an option for Fresno State
sophomore standout, Aaron Judge (left). The Western Athletic Conference
Freshman of the Year and Louisville Slugger Freshman
All-American wasn’t recruited by anyone for baseball. He came to
Fresno State by coincidence.
“I came down to Fresno to check out the football
program and they had a baseball camp that same weekend I was
down here,” Judge said, “so I decided to sign up for it and see
how I could do. That weekend I did well and they offered me a
scholarship that day so I just ran with it and took it.”
Judge was in between baseball and football and he
told himself to go with his heart. Baseball was his number one
love and the rest is history.
Judge is a tremendous athlete. The 6’7, 230-pound
center fielder was recruited mainly for football, but also
excelled in basketball. Judge was ranked the No. 27 wide
receiver in California. He was also his league’s most valuable
player in basketball and was drafted in the 30th round in the
2010 MLB Draft by the Oakland A’s.
Fresno State is glad he chose baseball. Judge
finished his freshman campaign hitting .358 with 30 RBI and 11
stolen bases. With Judge and a veteran Bulldogs team, Fresno
State was able to capture its fifth WAC regular-season title in
the past six years by finishing 40-16.
“On our club he is the best defensive
outfielder,” head coach Mike Batesole said. “He runs a 6.7 for a
big guy and he stole double figures for us last year. He hasn’t
developed the rest of game yet, but he will. There is more in
there that has yet to come out.”
Fans hope the rest comes out this season since
Fresno State is picked to win their sixth WAC title this year.
The Bulldogs did lose a core group of guys to the draft, mostly
on the offensive side, but they will return two-thirds of their
rotation and a veteran bullpen.
They return seniors Tom Harlan and Cody Kendall,
who went a combined 11-3 with a 3.35 ERA. Sophomore Tyler
Linehan looks to be the ace of the staff. Linehan went 5-2 last
year with a 4.27 ERA. For a lefty he does bring some heat. He
can get it up in the low 90s with a good slider. Taylor Garrison
and Justin Haley shore up the bullpen.
Even with all of the losses, the Bulldogs don’t
see this as a down year.
“We are not taking it as a rebuilding year,“
Judge said. “We are taking it as another step forward. We did
lose a lot of key guys, but we do have a lot of veteran players
out there with our pitching staff. I feel like if the freshmen
step up like I know they will we can put up the same kind of
numbers we did last year.”
Three or four freshmen will start for the
Bulldogs and will have to be ready to contribute right away. Two
of those freshmen are going to be Jordan Luplow and Chris
Mariscal. Luplow looks to be penciled in as the starting right
fielder for the Bulldogs and Mariscal will get the nod at
“They are just both outstanding freshmen,” Judge
said. “They showed actually a lot of power coming in as
freshmen. They are smart baseball players as well so look for
those two to put up some numbers.”
The Bulldogs opened up their season Friday with a
3-0 win against Butler to start their four-game series. Linehan
went 7.2 innings while piling up a career-high 13 strikeouts and
only allowing five hits. Judge, Luplow, and Mariscal all
collected hits. They accounted for four of the team’s seven
This will be Fresno State’s last year in the WAC.
They will depart along with Hawaii and Nevada, but they want to
make sure they go out with another WAC title under their belt
before they leave.
If the talent at the sophomore and freshman level
is any indication of Fresno State’s chances, then it looks like
chances are good. Coach Batesole has created a winning tradition
at Fresno State and it seems that tradition is going to live on
for years to come.
(photos by Keith Kountz)