Fresno State baseball coach Mike Batesole and UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie might have to have an arm wrestling contest to sort this out.
Irvine defeated Fresno, 12-6, in the opener of the Los Angeles regional Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium and the game featured a combined seven errors.
It was uncharacteristically sloppy for both teams as Fresno State, which made four errors, entered the regional ranked 34th in the nation in fielding percentage and UC Irvine was fourth.
Batesole argued that postseason jitters had nothing to do with either the errors or the performance of pitching ace Greg Gonzalez, who came into the game with an 11-0 record and a 1.43 ERA but gave up 12 hits and five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.
"He wasn’t nervous," Batesole said, interrupting a question directed at Gonzalez. "We've got to make some plays behind him. That ball that jumps up and almost hits [shortstop Garrett] Weber in the shoulder, that’s not him being nervous either. That’s him staying down there where he’s supposed to be and the ball jumps over his glove. You can’t say anybody was nervous out there."
Gillespie, however, had a different take when asked if nerves were to blame for the sloppy defense.
"Absolutely, without a question," he said. "I don’t see how they couldn’t be. I think you would have to check the pulse of the guy who isn’t excited and even nervous."
Jordan Leyland had two hits, including a three-run home run in the first inning, and five RBIs for the No. 2-seeded Anteaters. Irvine catcher Ronnie Shaffer had two hits and three RBIs while second baseman Tommy Reyes had three hits. Leyland, Shaffer and Reyes, the 7-8-9 batters for Irvine, were a combined 7-for-12 with nine RBIs.
Anteaters pitcher Matt Summers (11-2), coming off a no-hitter in his last start, gave up only one earned run on five hits with six strikeouts and a walk in six innings. The Bulldogs (40-15) entered the regional ranked No. 7 in the nation in home runs and No. 14 in slugging percentage, but had no extra base hits.