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Fresno States bid to repeat championship falls short
The Fresno State baseball team ended its bid to repeat as national champion after losing to San Diego State in the NCAA Regional at UC Irvine on Saturday afternoon. - photo by Photo courtesy of Keith Kountz
At some point, the magic was going to die.
For the Fresno State baseball team, it happened Saturday afternoon at UC Irvine’s Anteater Ballpark, where the Bulldogs suffered a 4-1 defeat to San Diego State in the NCAA Regionals — ending their hope of repeating last season’s magical run.
They waited for that one big hit that would spark another big rally, the kind that carried the Bulldogs to the national championship in 2008.
That big hit never came. And the Bulldogs seemed to be fine with that, considering they lose only three seniors to the “real world,” in catcher Danny Grubb, infielder/outfielder Gavin Hedstrom and pitcher Holden Sprague. They head into next decade with high expectations, in other words.
This season’s roster was loaded with a bunch of teenagers, as there were 15 freshmen and seven sophomores. The Bulldogs are expected to do well in the future despite the great chance that Turlock High graduate, Fresno State’s home run king, Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year and All-American Tom Mendonca — along with pitcher Alan Ahmady, who was suspended this season — will turn pro, as the Major League Baseball Draft starts Tuesday. According to an ESPN writer, Mendonca, a junior third baseman, is projected to go in the first two rounds.
Back to Saturday’s game.
The Bulldogs (32-30 overall) were once again facing elimination after losing to top-ranked UC Irvine 3-2 in the tournament’s opening round the previous night.
Against San Diego State, Fresno State allowed a two-run home run from Brandon Meredith for an early 2-0 advantage in the first inning. That was followed by two more scores in the fifth, as Fresno State designated hitter Kenny Wise’s RBI-triple in the top of the third was the Bulldogs’ only run.
“Another good college baseball game and we came out on the wrong end of it,” Bulldogs coach Mike Batesole said after the game. “Both teams pitched very well, both teams played outstanding defense. They got a couple home runs and you have to give them credit.”
In the past two seasons, the Bulldogs went 13-1 in elimination games.
In likely his last game as a college player, Mendonca provided the game’s first hit as the No. 3 batter. He finished with a school-record 57 homers in his three seasons.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.