This item originally appeared in the April 21, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.
By BRIAN TYNES
Tech (15-22, 7-8 WAC) swept Fresno State (10-22, 5-7) in a three-game Western Athletic Conference series last weekend to move past Fresno into fourth place in conference standings and rest one game behind third-place Rice, which Tech will face in Houston this weekend.
"We went 3-3 against them last year," Tech head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "We won two here and one over there, and Fresno is always a quality ball club. They are very talented and very well-coached. We had some key hits and some key pitching performances to get us through a tough weekend."
Tech was led on the mound by two complete games to open the series.
"[Junior] Ryan Rupert has been lights out ever since he got healthy," Simoneaux said. "Rupert and [senior] Clayton Meyer are always going to give you a chance to win. And for them to go the distance, it enabled us to save our bullpen for Sunday, whereas we got into Fresno's bullpen Friday and Saturday, and they weren't as strong in their bullpen Sunday. That's why we were able to score 10 runs. The earlier you can get into somebody's bullpen, the more success you're going to have later in the weekend."
That statement proved true as Tech was able to down the visiting Bulldogs 2-1 Friday, 5-2 Saturday and 10-7 Sunday.
Both of Tech's runs came by Gary Holik solo home runs on Friday.
"Holik's two home runs Friday night were huge for us," Simoneaux said. "You don't expect Gary to hit home runs, and for him to get two home runs kind of propelled us for the whole weekend, knowing that we won this game 2-1 with not much offensive production."
The home runs are Holik's only two of the season, and last year he only hit one.
Junior Ryan Hamilton also contributed for Tech by adding three singles, a triple and a three-run home run through the series.
"Ryan's been equally as good defensively, or better," Simoneaux said. "He has made incredible defensive plays, one after another, and he always comes up with big hits. His three-run homer to start the game Sunday was huge to get us off on the right foot. His triple down the right-field line Saturday tied the game. Ryan has really been rock solid for us both with the bat and defensively, and he deserves it because he works hard.
"Most teams usually have a guy you need to pencil in as a guy that you don't let beat you. I'm sure Hamilton's the guy for us -- Hamilton or [junior Ben] Tabor, who can hit the ball a long way. Most teams circle the guys and say 'don't let this guy beat you if the game's on the line.' So you have to pitch them carefully. But Hamilton's capable of hitting bad pitches. He hits pitches out of the strike zone as hard as anybody I've ever seen, and that's why he's successful."
Those in attendance noticed Tech intentionally walked Fresno third baseman Beau Mills multiple times. Mills entered the series with 10 home runs and hit two more during the series.
"He's probably the best hitter in the conference as a freshman," Simoneaux said.
"He has phenomenal pop in his bat. He was good enough to beat us if we pitched to him every time. There's no telling how many home runs he would've had out of that park. I'm not taking anything away from our pitchers, but if you get the ball up in the air at our park, that ball flies out of there in a hurry.
"The first home run he hit against Rupert and showed us he could go the other way on the off-speed pitch, and that told me this kid can hit.
"And the last home run he hit against [junior Steve] Alverson and pulled it over the pine trees. I think we frustrated them by not pitching to him because they depend on him offensively. It's not a sign of us being scared, it's a sign of us being smart and not letting the guy do the damage."
After Tech's sweep of Fresno State, the Bulldogs lost 3-2 in 12 innings at Lamar on Tuesday night.
Hamilton extended his hitting streak to 21 games with a single in the seventh inning, before tacking on another single in the final inning.
His four hits last weekend, including the three-run bomb in Friday's contest against Fresno State, earned him WAC Player of the Week honors.
Hamilton was also listed on the College Baseball Foundation Weekly Honor Roll.
Matt Lacy started the game for the Bulldogs at Lamar, pitching six and 2/3 innings and allowing only one run and five hits while striking out seven.
The Bulldogs will take on the Rice Owls in Houston this weekend, starting Friday at 7 p.m. at Reckling Park.