Batesole doles out sage ad­vice to shiv­er­ing Bull­dogs

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Sports - BY DAVID WHITE

The Fresno State base­ball team ma­tric­u­lated through the School of Hard Knox this week­end, learn­ing two great lessons the harsh way.

One, don’t give up eight runs when you’re only in the mood to score three your­self. That’s the lesser of the life ap­pli­ca­tions here.

The big­ger is this: pick up your dugout junk, be­cause lit­ter­ing is a crime against lo­cal or­di­nance and the law of fine de­tail.

“Way to leave your pa­per cups all over the floor,” Bull­dogs coach Mike Batesole yelled at ev­ery­one in par­tic­u­lar, give or take a few col­or­ful words.

“If you’re too big for the small things, you’re too small for the big things.”

With that, the wet and shiv­er­ing Bull­dogs picked up their sports-drink cups from the dugout floor at Lind­sey Nel­son Sta­dium, and got a lit­tle bit bet­ter in the process.

I’m at the Univer­sity of Ten­nessee this week­end for Smoky Moun­tain Win­ter­fest, an amaz­ing church youth con­fer­ence that in­tro­duces stu­dents to God via in­spi­ra­tional preach­ing and mu­sic that’s too loud.

We stepped out­side long enough to walk down the street to the ball field to see if Batesole’s lads were worth any fuss.

REA­SONS FOR OP­TI­MISM

We’re go­ing to for­get the score for now, be­cause ev­ery­one has lost to the Vol­un­teers in their school-record start.

This Bull­dogs team is good, enough so to take a 3-0 lead on the 25th-ranked ball­club in the col­lege na­tion. Their pitch­ing is tough, enough so that its bullpen pitched a shutout from the third in­ning for­ward in the heart of SEC coun­try.

These guys beat na­tion­ally-ranked Cal State Fuller­ton a few weeks back be­cause they have the pitch­ing and hit­ting to do big things.

Once they fig­ure out the small things, and we don’t just mean how to use trash re­cep­ta­cles, ev­ery­one’s go­ing to for­get about their 6-4 start to the 2019 cam­paign.

Those three runs in the first in­ning? That came against one of the finest Fri­day night starters in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence. They got 12 hits on a cold, driz­zling night where the ball re­fused to travel.

Most telling about their po­ten­tial?

NINTH-IN­NING GRIT

The game is 8-3. It was the ninth in­ning. Thir­teen peo­ple re­mained in the stands. The bus had just backed up and idled for a 9:30 p.m. ride to the warm hearth of the team ho­tel.

Know what these Bull­dogs did, when the easy thing to do was take three swings and call it a day?

Lead­off hit­ter EJ An­drews Jr. poked a sin­gle into left field. He power slid his way to sec­ond base on a fielder’s choice grounder that begged for a dou­ble play. JT Ar­ruda worked a two-strike, twoout walk.

Carter Bins grounded out to sec­ond, sure, be­cause they’re not quite big enough for the big mo­ments yet. But losses like this can go a long way to­ward amend­ing that as the sea­son goes on, es­pe­cially if Fu­ture Big League pitcher Ryan Jensen starts match­ing the mo­ment.

It’s been 11 years since Fresno State won a World Se­ries. Batesole’s bound to have an­other dream come through.

If they can fig­ure out how to ap­ply these hard lessons learned, this just might be the team.

“This team is tough,” Batesole said, qui­etly enough for them not to hear a com­pli­ment. “Real tough.”

Fresno Bee file

Fresno State lost to Ten­nessee on Fri­day, but Mike Batesole got an op­por­tu­nity to coach up his Bull­dogs in the af­ter­math: “If you’re too big for the small things, you’re too small for the big things.”

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