FRESNO, Calif. - Despite holding a four-run lead after the first two innings, the Bulldogs were unable to hold onto it falling 10-5 to Air Force on Friday evening at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium.
Fresno State (17-17, 7-7 MW) saw the first two hitters in the lineup, seniors Austin Guibor and Scott Silva, combine for five of the 'Dogs 12 hits on the evening. Guibor matched his career-high with three hits, including his sixth double of the season, and scored two runs. Silva smacked his fifth home run of the season and added a ninth-inning double. Junior shortstop Korby Batesole chipped in a pair of singles for his sixth multi-hit game of the season and scored a run.
Air Force (15-18, 5-12 MW), who won for the first time in 14 games in Fresno since the 'Dogs joined the Mountain West in 2013, had four players with multi-hit games and eight total Falcons had a hit in the contest. Leadoff hitter and Turlock native Adam Groesbeck went 3-for-5 with a triple and scored three runs.
After the Falcons got the scoring started in the top of the first with a quick run on a wild pitch, the 'Dogs answered back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 2-1 lead. Junior first baseman Aaron Arruda drove in his team-leading 34th RBI of the season bringing home Guibor with a one-out double down the right field line. Arruda came around to score as the Bulldogs pulled off a double steal as left fielder Jared Akins swiped second and Arruda came in to score.
A three-run second inning pushed the 'Dogs out in front 5-1 as Batesole got the action ignited with a two-out single to center field which was followed by a single to right center by Guibor. Silva cleared the bases with a shot to left field giving the 'Dogs a four-run cushion.
The Bulldogs' lead was short-lived as Air Force exploded for a six-run top of the third batting around the order in the frame. Freshman right-hander Davis Moore took over for Fresno State starter JJ Santa Cruz and walked a pair of Falcons before being lifted for senior Mark Reece. Air Force senior designated hitter Tyler Jones greeted the new Bulldog hurler with a double down the left field line to clear the bases and cut the 'Dogs lead to 5-3.
After Reece was able to retire the next two Falcons on a groundout and a strikeout, a two-out RBI single by first baseman Nic Ready drove in Jones from second to bring Air Force within 5-4. Reece put Air Force second baseman Ryan Robb on base with a hit by pitch to place runners at first and second before catcher Rob Dau helped the Falcons re-gain the lead as the sophomore catcher smacked his second home run of the season with a three-run shot to left field.
With Air Force holding a 7-5 lead after three innings, the Falcons made it a three-run advantage with a run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Jones off the 'Dogs Adam Medrano. Senior Dominic Topoozian came on in relief of Medrano and after giving up a single to right fielder Russell Williams to load the bases, the right-hander came up with two big outs getting an infield fly and a strikeout to strand the bases loaded.
A leadoff home run by Haslam to start the sixth pushed the Air Force lead to 9-5 as the 'Dogs offense ended the contest with seven straight scoreless frames. Air Force added a run on a sacrifice fly in the eighth by Ready to make it 10-5.
Santa Cruz tossed the first two innings striking out a career-high four batters before giving way to Moore, Reece and Medrano. Topoozian nearly matched his season-high of four innings throwing 3.2 innings allowing six hits, but only one run and struck out four. Junior left-hander Fred Schlichtholz threw the final two innings for his ninth appearance of the season of two-plus innings.
Salute to Services Weekend wraps up on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. as the 'Dogs and Falcons play the rubber match of the series. Prior to Friday night's game, Fresno State honored the Central Valley Honor Flight as last fall a group of high school students from Los Banos were in Washingon D.C. when World War II and Korean War Veterans from the Valley were visiting their memorials. Motivated by getting the opportunity to meet the veterans, the students raised money so more veterans might get to enjoy the honor flight experience.