Sunday, March 26, 2017

Late error, lack of clutch hitting as Bulldogs waste pitching gem by Dung

Fresno State couldn't have asked for any more from sophomore pitcher Kamalani Dung Sunday, but, in the end, it was Boise State that snuck away with a 2-1 win in nine innings at Margie Wright Diamond to snap an 8-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.

Fresno State won the series two games to one and has now won 16 straight MW series -- a conference record.  The Bulldogs, however, dropped into a tie for first place in the league standings.

Dung was at the top of her game, going nine innings without walking a batter, and having a no-hitter intact until two outs in the fifth inning.  Dung held the Broncos -- who came in with the nation's ninth-best team batting average in the latest NCAA stats -- to just two hits through eight innings.  But in the ninth inning, a Fresno State error -- its second of the game -- proved very costly once again and doomed the Bulldogs, who've seemingly made it a habit to play poor defense behind Dung of late.

Katie Castellon's throwing error allowed Boise State's Rebekah Cervantes to reach second base, and on Dung's first pitch following that Castellon miscue, Makenzie Sullivan drove in the game-winning run with an RBI double.  And that would be the game.

Cervantes played a part in both BSU runs, as her solo home run in the sixth put the Broncos up 1-0.  It was just the second hit of the game allowed by Dung.  Fresno State would respond with a run of its own in the bottom half of the sixth on a bases-loaded walk to Vanessa Hernandez, but the Bulldogs wasted opportunities all game long and paid the price.

Fresno State stranded 11 base runners (compared to just four for the Broncos) and continually botched scoring chances inning after inning.  The Bulldogs out-hit Boise State six to four, and also were unable to take advantage of six walks and two Broncos errors, with some poor at-bats and questionable base running decisions adding to a frustrating afternoon for the home team.

It was the second Sunday in a row where Fresno State failed to muster much effort at the plate when it was looking to complete a 3-game conference sweep.  After scoring 37 runs in their Friday and Saturday MW games the last two weekends, the Bulldogs have only scored 4 combined runs in their two Sunday games.  They're 4-0 on Friday and Saturday in Mountain West play (outscoring opponents 34-14), but 0-2 on Sundays.  The Bulldogs are averaging nearly nine runs per game in games one and two of weekend series, but averaging two runs per game on Sunday when going for the sweep.

With one out in the third inning today, Fresno State had consecutive base runners reach on back to back Boise State errors, but the Bulldogs failed to advance either runner.  An inning later, Morgan Howe and Kierra Willis both singled, but Fresno State left runners on the corners.  The following inning, Fresno State blew a chance to score when it had runners at first and third with just one out.  Pinch runner Christina Rodriguez was thrown out at the plate on an ill-advised double steal attempt, and Malia Rivers followed with an inning-ending pop up with a runner in scoring position.

In the sixth, after BSU took the 1-0 lead on Cervantes' homer, Fresno State looked to be in position to not only take the lead, but break the game open.  Morgan Howe and Chase LeeHong singled, and both advanced into scoring position with one out on a wild pitch.  Broncos coach Cindy Ball elected to intentionally walk Willis to load the bases, and Hernandez was then walked on a 3-2 pitch to tie the game at 1-1.  With the bases loaded and just one out, BSU pitcher Kelsey Broadus retired the Bulldogs' No. 8 and No. 9 hitters -- Schuylar Broussard and Castellon -- on a strikeout and flyout to end the threat.

In the seventh and eighth innings, Fresno State again stranded two each frame.  The eighth had a familiar ring to it as Willis and Hernandez walked to lead off the inning, but Broadus again retired Broussard and Castellon, with Bulldog head coach Linda Garza opting not to go to a pinch hitter.  Broussard struck out for the second straight at-bat, and Castellon hit into an inning-ending double play.  Broussard and Castellon had the two errors for Fresno State in the game as well, with Castellon's ninth inning throwing error leading to the unearned, game-winning run that was charged to Dung.

Broadus improved to 4-0, while Dung fell to 14-7.  In Dung's four starts in conference play this season, the Bulldogs have now committed seven errors that led to eight unearned runs.

Colorado State 11, San Diego State 5 - In Fort Collins, the Rams took advantage of three Aztecs errors and won the series two games to one.  Freshman Carina Gamboa had three hits and four RBI to pave the way against San Diego State, which has now lost its first two series in Mountain West play this season.  SDSU had not lost its first two conference series of the year since 2005.  Kaylynn Pierce allowed eight hits in relief, but picked up the victory.  The Aztecs used four pitchers, but the three early unearned runs and three errors were too much to overcome.

Utah State 17, Nevada 5 (5 innings) - In Reno, this one was all about errors and some poor Nevada defense.  The Wolf Pack committed errors in every inning of the game, leading to eight unearned runs, and that was the ballgame in a nutshell.  Devan Sperry and Jazmin Clark had four hits apiece, with Sperry launching a home run and double to finish with seven RBI.  Kellie White overcame five walks and allowed five hits to grab the win, her 11th.

New Mexico 5, UNLV 4 - In Las Vegas, the Lobos captured a series win by taking the rubber match.  Each team had 11 hits, with Shelbie Franc and Chelsea Johnson having three each.  Morgan Ettinger took the loss and UNM starter Tess McPherson earned the victory.  Krissy Fortner picked up the save as the Rebels nearly came back from a 5-1 deficit.