Fresno, Calif. -- After back-to-back pitcher's duels in the first two games of their Mountain West softball series, the top two offensive teams in the conference, the San José State Spartans and Fresno State Bulldogs let the bats do some talking. On Sunday, the Spartans pounded out 15 hits; won the game 9-7 and took the series two games to one.
"Playing in this environment is always difficult," Spartans head coach Peter Turner said of Margie Wright Diamond. "In nine years I've never come here and won a series. They get great support from their fans and they have a great team, but this weekend we were the better team."
SJSU (25-12, 5-1 MW) and Fresno State, which combined for 20 hits and six runs in Friday and Saturday's games, rapped out 23 hits and scored 16 times on Sunday.
"We needed our three, four and five hitters (Jessie Hufstetler, Sharon-Renae Estrada and Alyssa Martinez) to come alive. (Michelle) Cox did a great job all weekend and (Jessica) Madrid was getting on as well. We needed the hitters after them to get back to driving in runs. Today they did (with a combined six RBI)."
The Spartans began Sunday's game they way they have each game this series, and the last seven games in a row, by scoring in the first inning.
Cox (3-for-4, 3 R, BB) led off the game with a triple to left center. After the next two batters struck out, Estrada (2-for-4, 3 RBI) hammered a 1-0 pitch to the opposite power alley.
It was inches from going out; caromed off the fence and away from the Bulldog right fielder. Cox scored easily and Estrada was off to the races. She slid safely into the third for the first triple of her four-year Spartans career and a 1-0 San José State lead.
In the third the Spartans picked up two more hits, but again couldn't get the clutch one and took its 1-0 lead into the bottom of the inning.
Fresno State (23-12, 4-2 MW), which had gotten one hit off Spartans' starter Madison Fish in the first two frames, broke out for three run in the bottom of the third. Whitney Smith led off with a solo homer to left center. Brenna Moss followed her with a single and three batters later a walk set the Bulldogs up with runners on first and third. Paige Gumz singled in both runners giving Fresno State a 3-1 lead after three.
The Spartans wasted little time tying the game in the fourth. Schultz (1-for-3, 2 R) got a one-out single followed by Cox's third hit in as many at bats. Two batters later, on the first pitch of the at bat, Hufstetler singled through the right side. The hit plated both runners and tied the game 3-3.
The RBIs were Hufstetler's 53rd and 54th of the year and set a new single-season RBI mark for the program. She passed Jessica Garcia who set the previous record, 53 RBI, last season.
The two runs marked the first time in the series that SJSU up a crooked number in an inning, but that was just the beginning.
In the fifth San José State put a four spot on the board off two hits and a pair of Bulldog errors. Ten Spartans came to the plate beginning with an Erin Rodriguez walk. Two outs later Schultz reached on an error and rather than face Cox again, Fresno State intentionally walked her to load the bases.
Madrid (2-for-5, 2 RBI, R) singled to second base to drive in the first run. Hufstetler was hit to plate the second run and Estrada lashed a double down the left field line scoring the final two and busting the game open 7-3.
The Bulldogs got a run back in the bottom of the fifth, but the Spartans push the lead back to four runs, 8-4, on a Madrid RBI single in the top of the fourth. It would turn out to be the game-winning run.
In the bottom of the seventh Fresno State scored on an RBI double followed by a two-RBI triple to cut the lead to 9-7 with one out. The triple ended Madison Fish's day and Allison Lang entered to close the game.
Lang gave up a walk to the first batter she faced, but induced a 4-to-6-to-3 groundball double play to slam the door and secure the win. It was her team-leading fifth save of the year.
Fish (12-3) tossed 6.1 innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits while striking out six to earn the win.
"We needed a big start out of Maddie," Turner said. "She gave us six strong innings. When she hit the wall, I didn't get her out of there as soon as I should have. She started guiding the ball rather than throwing it. I should have to Alli after the first hit in the seventh. That's on me, but Maddie did a great job today."
The Spartans are home next week to host Colorado State. Game one, of the three game set, is Thursday at 12:00 p.m. on SJSU Field.
San Jose State 9, Fresno State 7 (Mar 29, 2015 at Fresno, Calif.)
San Jose State...... 100 241 1 - 9 15 1 (25-12, 5-1 MW)
Fresno State........ 003 010 3 - 7 8 4 (23-12, 4-2 MW)
Pitchers: San Jose State - Fish, Madison; LANG, Allison(7) and Entzminger, Emma.
Fresno State - COMPTON, J; HARRIS, H(5) and GUMZ, P.
Win-FISH, Madison(12-3) Save-LANG, Allison(5) Loss-COMPTON, J(13-9)
T-2:05 A-1133 HR FS - SMITH, W. Weather: 78 sunny