Fresno State uses first-inning rally to send UCSB to Stanford’s loser’s bracket
STANFORD — Andrew Checketts didn’t mince words after the UCSB baseball team was thoroughly handled by Fresno State Friday night at Stanford’s Klein Field at Sunken Diamond in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
“Not quite how we drew it up, have our backs against the wall, come back out tomorrow and go to work,” the Gaucho skipper said after his team’s 9-2 loss was highlighted by not having a baserunner until the fourth inning and no-hit through 52/3 innings by Bulldog ace Ryan Jensen.
“We haven’t played like that very often, haven’t seen that side of us, I expect we will be more in character (in today’s elimination game against Sacramento State at 1 p.m.).”
Fresno State (39-14-1) made its statement early, posting five runs in the top of the first inning behind four consecutive singles to start the game, scoring another on a Marcos Castanon error on a potential double-play ball and then plating the final on a heads up play from Matt Ottino, scoring while the Gauchos ran down Zach Presno, who had been picked-off by UCSB starter Ben Brecht.
Brecht lasted only 1 1/3 innings, giving up seven runs (four earned) on eight hits.
“We kicked the ball around a little bit, threw the ball down the middle of the plate a bunch, didn’t have a lot of really good at-bats until later in the game,” said Checketts, referring to the Gauchos’ three errors.
Meanwhile, Jensen was spectacular, striking out eight over 7 2/3 innings, not giving up a hit until an Andrew Martinez single in the bottom of the sixth inning. UCSB had only eight baserunners on the night, with five hits, two walks and a hit-by-pitch.
“You guys know the velo that he has, just took a while to get to him,” UCSB senior Thomas Rowan said. “He’s a good pitcher, he had his fastball going today. Had a two-seamer going as well. He seemed to go to that on 3-2 counts when he needed a strikeout.”
Jensen said that he didn’t change his gameplan in facing a Gaucho team that hit just under .300 as a team over 54 games.
“Go out and treat it like every other game,” Jensen said. “Execute the pitches that are called. No real gameplan to it, just go out and execute.”
The Bulldog offense gave the right-hander plenty of support with 14 hits, including three apiece by Zach Ashford, Carter Bins and McCarthy Tatum.
While Fresno State racked up hits, UCSB’s bullpen did limit the Bulldogs to two runs (one earned) over 7 2/3 innings of relief, highlighted by 3 1/3 innings of work from Alex Patterson.
The Gauchos (45-10) didn’t use any of their bullpen mainstays Friday, with Checketts pointing to strategies looking ahead to today and hopefully beyond.
“It stinks, you have to think about what if you lose,” Checketts said. “You have to plan three days in advance, what are we going to do on Monday. I’m working through it. We have to win tomorrow, but we have to have some arms. There’s no second-place trophy in a regional, we have to have some arms in order to get through to Monday.”
Checketts will send big lefty Jack Dashwood to the mound today, with the redshirt sophomore carrying a 9-2 record with a 2.17 ERA on the season.
This will be the second consecutive Saturday that UCSB will play in a do-or-die situation, beating Cal Poly 7-0 a week ago to secure its first Big West Conference title in 33 years.
That’s an experience that the team will draw from.
“Looking forward to (today), try not to be too sad (about the loss),” Rowan said. “Wake up tomorrow and know that we’ve prepared for this for a long time. The Cal Poly series was a little bit of a practice for this, but at the end of the day, it’s still baseball and I like our chances.”