Fresno State rallies for victory | NevadaAppeal.com

Fresno State rallies for victory

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – For six innings, Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Rupert handcuffed the powerful Fresno State offense.

Erik Wetzel led off the seventh with a homer, and three batters later, Steve Susdorf hit an opposite-field homer to propel the top-seeded Bulldogs to a 4-2 come-from-behind win over Louisiana Tech Friday at the WAC Baseball Tournament at Peccole Park.

The loss eliminated Louisiana Tech from the tournament and Fresno State advanced to today’s semifinal at 11 a.m.

“This was big,” Fresno State coach Mike Batesole said. “If we can win tomorrow, somebody has to knock us off twice.”

Rupert and Fresno State’s Justin Wilson were locked in a scoreless duel for the first five innings. Wilson allowed just two hits in that span and Rupert three.

Tech took a 2-0 lead when Nick Grunenwald singled and scored on Chris Kersten’s double. Kersten eventually came around to score on a wild pitch.

The lead didn’t last long, however.

Erik Wetzel blasted a lead-off homer to left, and after a walk and strikeout, Steve Susdorf slammed an off-field homer to left to give Fresno State a 3-2 lead.

Fresno State added a run in the seventh when Dan Grubb singled and came around to score on a single by Todd Sandell and scored on a passed ball.

Wilson departed after giving up a one-out single to Matt Combs. Brandon Burke came on and retired the next two hitters on groundballs to second base.

Louisiana Tech threatened in both the eighth and ninth against Burke, but was unable to come up with the big hit.

Patrick Thomas lined out with the bases loaded in the eighth and Burke worked out of a jam with runners on first and second and only one out.

HAWAI’I 19, SAC STATE 7

The Rainbows sent the Hornets packing thanks to a nine-run second inning and a tournament-best 20-hit attack.

For Hawai’i, it was a complete turnaround from the opening game when it collected just six hits off Nevada ace Ryan Rodriguez. Vinnie Catricala, Kevin MacDonald, Jon Hee and Eli Christensen led the offense with three hits apiece. Kris Sanchez, Landon Hernandez and Brandon Haislet contributed two apiece.

“Offensively anyway,” Hawai’i coach Mike Trapasso said. “We lived to play another day. Our main objective was to stay alive and play tomorrow (Saturday).

“Obviously, we’re going to have to pitch better than we have the last two days. We didn’t have to go with our better relief pitchers; the guys that have thrown the most throughout the year.”

Hawai’i starter Marc Rodrigues, despite being staked to a 10-2 lead, struggled mightily. He was lifted after 31Ú3 innings after giving up five runs and 11 hits.

“He wasn’t sharp today,” Trapasso said of Rodrigues. “I wanted him to stay five innings so he could get his 10th win as much as anybody. They were hitting the ball, and he was not locating his pitches.”

Sanchez drove in a run in the first off Alvaro Orozco, and the Rainbows exploded for nine runs and seven hits, sending 13 batters to the plate.

Christensen, Hernandez and MacDonald each delivered two-run hits in the big inning.

Christensen added a two-run homer in the fourth, and Hernandez added a three-run shot in the top of the seventh, giving him five RBI.

• Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal, or by calling 881-1281