From where Trent Woodward sits, or crouches, Jordan Brink has a good handle on this whole Friday night starter thing.
The junior right-hander is not fazed in the least, and in Fresno State's 4-1 baseball victory over Nevada at Beiden Field in their Mountain West Conference opener, Brink went about dismantling the Wolf Pack with three sharp pitches, a fastball, slider and change-up.
Brink allowed four hits and was charged with one run in 8 1/3 strong innings, working very efficiently and effectively. Brink set down 12 batters in a row after giving up a one-out single to Jordan Devencenzi in the second inning without much difficulty. He needed only eight pitches to get through the third inning, 13 to make it out of the fifth, 11 each in the seventh and eighth.
The Wolf Pack was not getting many good swings.
"That was awesome," said Woodward, the Bulldogs' catcher. "I have the best seat in the house every time he goes to the mound. He had all three pitches working. He's a gamer. He competes.
"When he has a good fastball, you can kind of work off that and (pitching coach Steve Rousey) did a great job of making them hit the fastball before we started getting cute. His slider was on, which we made sure we put guys away with. But his fastball was good. His fastball had life, it had good late movement, and it's tough to hit when you've got all three."
Coach Mike Batesole gave Brink a chance to finish. But after walking Nevada leadoff hitter Scott Kaplan and giving up a one-out single to Austin Byler, that was it. Brink came out after throwing 113 pitches, 71 for strikes (62.8%).
"He was quality knees and shins all night and then you saw the first hitter in the ninth all of a sudden everything was chest high so you could sniff it out," Batesole said. "We tried to let him finish it, but you have to do the smart thing and take care of his arm. We have a long season ahead of us."
Sophomore Jake Shull came on, but after retiring Brad Gerig he walked Devencenzi to load the bases and gave up an infield single to Trenton Brooks that pushed the Nevada run across. With the tying run on base, somewhat suddenly, Shull was able to come back and strike out Nevada shortstop Kyle Hunt to end it.
Brink obviously wanted to finish, but there were a lot of positives to take away - in 14 2/3 innings over his two starts he has an ERA of 0.78 and allowed opposing batters to hit just .109.
"Rousey was calling some good pitches and giving the defense an opportunity to make some nice plays, which they did," Brink said after his first victory this season. "That's the goal every game, just come out, hit your spots and keep the ball down, let the defense do all the work."
The hardest hit Nevada ball through eight innings was a long fly ball to the warning track in right off the bat of Kewby Meyer that was tracked down by Jordan Luplow. The first base hit, in the second, came on a pitch in that Devencenzi was able to get just enough of to punch over the head of shortstop Jesse Medrano.
The Bulldogs (4-2, 1-0 in the MW) broke the game open a bit in the sixth, which started when Taylor Tempel took a 3-2 pitch from Nevada starter Michael Fain (Clovis High) in the back.
Luplow then put down a bunt, presumably only to push Tempel into scoring position. But Fain, coming off the mound, slipped when he got to the ball and could not make a play.
The Bulldogs had runners at first and second, then first and third when Tempel moved on a fly to center by Woodward. Fain hit Kevin Viers to load the bases and designated hitter Taylor Ward, who came in hitting .364 with a team-leading six RBI, lined a single to left to drive in two runs.
Fresno State vs. Nevada
Saturday: 2:05 p.m. at Beiden Field, Bulldogs RH Jimmy Lambert (0-1, 1.59 ERA) vs. Wolfpack TBA
Sunday: 1:05 p.m. at Beiden Field, Bulldogs TBA vs. Wolfpack TBA
Records: Fresno State 4-2, 1-0 Mountain West; Nevada 2-3, 0-1
Radio/webcast: KFIG (AM 940)/ themw.com (Sunday)
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