Mountain West: Fresno State at Nevada Preview

Taylor Ward - Photo Fresno State Athletic Department

Taylor Ward – Photo Fresno State Athletic Department

RENO, Nev. – The Fresno State Bulldogs (3-1, 0-0 MW) will be at Nevada Wolf Pack (4-0, 0-0 MW) Friday Feb. 20-22 for a weekend series. The first pitch for each of the three games are scheduled for Fri: 4pm, Sat: 1pm, Sun: 1pm at beautiful Peccole Park.

Fresno State and Nevada open their Mountain West schedules against one another for the second successive season.

Fresno State leads the all-time series 95-55 with the last meeting coming up a Nevada victory 10-2 (2014).
Fresno State swept their opening weekend series vs. UC Irvine, and the Dogs have been ranked fifth (out of seven) in the Mountain West preseason coaches’ poll.

FSU junior backstop Taylor Ward (Oviedo, Fla. /Shadow Hills HS Calif.), selected preseason All-American four times, and to All-MW team looks to lead the Dogs in what is surely to be a series for the ages.

The Bulldogs swept the Wolf Pack to open MW play in 2014. Nevada won two of three at Pecolle Park in the return trip making this series one that’s been circled on the calendar for players, coaches, and fans alike.

These two teams have played 150 times, the fourth longest rivalry Fresno State has behind San Jose State, Cal Poly and Sacramento State. So it’s safe to assume there is no love loss here. Look for hard hitting, hard throwing, aggressive running and a lot of dust clouds – baseball at its most primal form.

Nevada LHP/OF sophomore Trenton Brooks (Alpine, Calif. /Granite Hills HS), cranked a grand slam Tuesday to stun fifth-ranked Texas Tech, 8-4, at Rip Griffin Park., and Brooks will be poised to continue his hard hitting conquests after having contributed towards six of the Wolf Pack’s eight runs with four RBI and three runs scored in that Texas Tech dismantling.

Both schools left the WAC for the MW after the 2012 season. Since that time Fresno State maintains an 11-6 advantage in 17 games – the Bulldogs have not played any other team more over that duration.

A big reason why FSU has faced no other team more than Nevada over the last two years is due to the two colleges have bumped into one another for a pair of games in the last two conference tournaments.

In 2013, the Bulldogs lost the opener as the No. 4 seed, but later beat No. 5 Nevada (actually eliminating them). In 2014, the Wolf Pack later repeated the same feat as the No. 4 seed – eliminating the No. 5 Bulldogs in game two after losing the opener.

Nevada is 4-0 for the first time in 20 years and looks for its first 5-0 start since 1974.

The Wolf Pack last defeated No. 5 Texas Tech 8-4 in Lubbock, Texas, and is bringing high powered talent to the field with the likes of senior Austin Byler (Peoria, Ariz./Sunrise Mountain HS) who was a unanimous preseason All-American and Golden Spikes Award watch lister, along with Kewby Meyer (Waipahu, Hawai’i /Kamehameha HS), who together with Brooks were named to the preseason All-MW team. Nevada brings back 18 letterwinners and welcomes 18 newcomers to the 2015 squad.

Redshirt sophomore Mark Reece (Roseville, Calif. /Nevada), will in the offing make a return trip to the hill at Peccole Park, however in a different uniform. Reece pitched 22.2 innings in 10 outings as a true freshman for the Wolf Pack in 2013.

Reece transferred to Fresno State and was allowed eligibility after the 2014 year began, nevertheless, when it was all said and done, employed a redshirt season. In two outings and 4.0 innings pitched, Reece has not given up an earned run and has sent four batters back to the pine with 4 K’s.

Opponents have posted a .143 batting average against the redshirt sophomore.

Keep an eye on Bulldog sophomore catcher Joe Prior (Los Alamitos, Calif./Servite HS), in the early going at least – it looks like Prior has found his bat. A year ago, Prior made three starts and performed in 16 games as a true freshman.

Prior ranks second on the squad in RBI (6), behind MW Player of the Week Brody Russell (Bakersfield, Calif. /Centennial HS)who has seven.

About the Author

Matthew Gray
Matthew Gray is a national writer for College Baseball Central and a member of the National College Baseball Hall of Fame, granting him an official vote annually on which coaches and players will be inducted. Matthew is also a member of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, which gives him official votes in the Dick Howser Trophy (Player of the Year), Regional Players of the Year and NCBWA All-America voting. Matthew is college baseball's go to source for exclusive player, coach, scout and executive interview based articles. He is at the forefront of prospect knowledge in the nation, and owns a strong managerial and professional background which includes over 25 years of experience as an author, scout, coach and athlete. Matthew has two daughters, Shelby, and Michelle. Follow Matthew on Twitter @CBCBaseball95