FRESNO, Calif. – The fourth-seeded Fresno State baseball team battled, but fell 11-8 to the top-seeded San Jose State Spartans on Saturday afternoon on day three of the 2023 Mountain West Baseball Championship at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium.
The loss eliminated Fresno State (30-27) from the conference tournament, while San Jose State (29-24) will face Air Force (27-29) in the championship round on Saturday night.
In 2023, Fresno State was 22-12 in games played at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium this season (12-7 against MW opponents).
Fresno State is now 12-12 all-time in MW tournament games overall, 3-4 all-time in MW Tournament games as the No. 4 seed and 6-6 in elimination games.
This was Fresno State's seventh appearance (out of nine possible tournaments) in the MW Baseball Championship since joining the conference for the 2013 season.
This was the second time Fresno State has faced San Jose State in an MW Baseball Championship contest (both this week).
How It Happened
Grady Morgan reached base in his first plate appearance for the fifth straight game, singling to right field and advancing to second on a fielding error by SJSU's James Shimashita.
Nikoh Mitchell moved Morgan to third with a sacrifice bunt and Murf Gray drove him home on a deep sacrifice fly out into left-center field for an early 1-0 lead over the Spartans.
In the bottom half of the first, the Bulldogs' infield turned a crisp 6-4-3 double play to get out of a bases-loaded jam unscathed.
Over the course of the next three innings, it was a seesaw affair with five lead changes:
B2: SJSU took its first lead with a two-out, three-run homer by Robert Hamchuk in the second inning, which gave the Spartans a 3-1 advantage.
T3: Fresno State answered with three runs as Travis Welker, Nikoh Mitchell and Murf Gray each scored to lift the Diamond 'Dogs back in front at 4-3.
B3: SJSU's Jack Colette led off with a homer to even the score at 4-4 and Fresno State second baseman Ben Newton prevented a run from scoring a few batters later with an over-the-shoulder catch in shallow center field to end the frame.
T4: Mitchell delivered a two-out, two-run double, which lifted the Bulldogs into a 6-4 lead.
B4: San Jose State responded with four runs on an RBI ground-rule double, an RBI single, an RBI groundout and an RBI double to put the Spartans up 8-6 through four.
SJSU added three more in the fifth inning, which was followed by the Diamond 'Dogs scoring in both the sixth (Bobby Blandford triple, scored on wild pitch) and seventh (Mitchell solo home run) to trim a five-run deficit down to three at 11-8 at the seventh inning stretch.
But that was as close as Fresno State could climb back despite a valiant effort in the ninth, which saw the tying run reach the on-deck circle.