FRESNO, Calif. – Picking up their third Mountain West series win of the season, the Fresno State baseball team defeated Air Force 8-7 on a bases-loaded walk-off single by Zach Ashford on Saturday afternoon at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium.
“It is amazing how this game is,” said head coach Mike Batesole after the win. “You just show up and do your thing. It is amazing to come and watch these guys fight every game. What starter Rickey Ramirez did out there was really special today, he pitches with so much heart, it’s hard not to pull for him.”
Fresno State (18-17, 8-7 MW) won their second series of the season over the Falcons pounding out 16 hits for its most hits in a game since going for a season-best 18 against Cal Poly on March 28.
Leading the charge was Ashford who tied his career-high with three hits, all singles, and drove in the game-winning run. Senior outfielder Jake Stone finished off an impressive series over the Falcons from the plate with a three-hit performance smacking two doubles and scored two runs. Stone hit .583 in the series going 7-for-12 with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored and four RBIs. Aaron Arruda, Carter Bins and Korby Batesole each had two hits apiece while Scott Silva slugged his sixth home run of the season in the sixth inning.
Air Force (15-19, 5-13 MW) slugged out 13 hits in the contest as junior shortstop Tyler Zabojnik went 4-for-5 coming withing a triple shy of the cycle, scored two runs and drove in three RBIs. Third baseman Bradley Haslam and second baseman Shaun Mize each had a pair of hits and left fielder Adam Groesbeck hit his fifth home run of the season.
After a scoreless first four innings, the teams traded two runs apiece in the fifth inning as the Falcons scored a two-run home run by Groesbeck and the ‘Dogs answered with a pair of runs with Bins scoring on an throwing error and Austin Guibor coming in to score on an RBI single by Jared Akins.
The ‘Dogs took their first lead of the contest in the sixth as Batesole and Bins hit one-out singles and after Guibor flied out to left field, Silva delivered a three-run shot, his second in as many games, to deep left-center field to put Fresno State ahead 5-2.
With Bulldog starter Rickey Ramirez cruising through seven innings, the junior right-hander ran into trouble in the eighth allowing a pair of runs on RBI singles by Mize and pinch-hitter Daniel Jones, but left with a 5-4 lead after retiring the final two Falcons.
The Falcons jumped ahead 7-5 in the ninth inning as Zabojnik hammered a three-run home run to right field off Ryan Jensen, but the ‘Dogs freshman right-hander settled down to retire the next three hitters giving Fresno State an opportunity to remain in the contest.
The ‘Dogs took advantage scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings for the fourth time this season. Stone led off with a double to right field and came home to score on an RBI single up the middle by Jesse Medrano to cut the Falcons lead to 7-6. After a single to left field by Ashford put runners on first and second, Batesole greeted new Air Force pitcher Ryan Holloway with a single to center field to drive in Medrano tying the game at 7-7.
After Jensen stranded runners at the corners in the top of the 10th, the ‘Dogs took advantage in the bottom of the frame as Arruda led off with a single up the middle followed by another double by Stone put runners at second and third. A walk to Jeremiah Burks loaded the bases and Ashford followed with his game-winning single down the right field line to give the ‘Dogs their second walk-off win of the season.
Jensen picked up his first career win as a Bulldog tossing a season-high four strikeouts. Ramirez put together a fantastic start matching his career-high with eight innings allowing 11 hits, four earned runs, two walks and struck out eight while throwing 127 pitches.
The ‘Dogs head out on the road for a four-game road trip next week traveling to Pacific (12-21) and Nevada (11-26, 7-11 MW) taking on the Tigers on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and face the Wolf Pack on Friday through Sunday in Reno.
Head coach Mike Batesole
On freshman relief pitcher Ryan Jensen…
“You have to have thick skin to come in and pitch at the ends of games like this. He has had some ups and downs this season, but you can’t forget he is only a freshman. We have a lot of trust in him, as well as Carter Bins, being out there as freshmen. Those two kids are going to be special down the road.”
Bates on upcoming road games next week at Pacific and Nevada….
“I don’t know what is in front of us, we were pretty locked in to this weekend. There are no easy D1 college baseball wins and that’s what we know.”
Batesole on facing a five-man infield at end of game…
“We were trying to find a way, you have always got to find a way. There are lots of ways to score runs. You have to do it anyway that you can just to get it done. They were looking for ways today, and I don’t know how smart some of them were, but they are starting to search for ways to get it done and that is a big team quality to build on.”
Fresno State Media Services