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Baseball returns with hopes to exceed last season’s success

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Baseball returns with hopes to exceed last season’s success

Sophomore second baseman Jacob Maekawa celebrates after scoring the game-winning run during the Aztecs 4-3 victory over UNLV on May 25 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Sophomore second baseman Jacob Maekawa celebrates after scoring the game-winning run during the Aztecs 4-3 victory over UNLV on May 25 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Smiley

Sophomore second baseman Jacob Maekawa celebrates after scoring the game-winning run during the Aztecs 4-3 victory over UNLV on May 25 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Smiley

Photo courtesy of Kelly Smiley

Sophomore second baseman Jacob Maekawa celebrates after scoring the game-winning run during the Aztecs 4-3 victory over UNLV on May 25 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

by Daniel Guerrero, Staff Writer

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San Diego State baseball is ready to do more than just defend their Mountain West Conference title.

The 2018 Aztecs won 39 games en-route to clinching their fifth MW pennant in six years, but the season came to an end after losing to Northwestern State in the NCAA Tournament Regional playoffs.

Head coach Mark Martinez said the team has worked to find a consistency with winning within the MW, but they’ve also been looking to take the next step.

“It’s a process,” Martinez said. “It’s taken us a long time to kind of get to the point where we’re consistently winning. Now the next step is for us to get in a regional and make some noise and find a way to win one. That’s been the expectation of this program in the last couple of years.”

This year’s Aztecs squad was picked by the MW coaches’ preseason poll to be the conference champions. With the high expectations, sophomore outfielder Matt Rudick said the recognition is great, but it doesn’t affect the way they play.

“I feel like if we just keep on playing our game, we know what we’re capable of,” Rudick said. “It’s cool to be the top team, but we play with a chip on our shoulder and if we just go out and play how we play, it’ll show.”

The Aztecs roster three preseason All-Conference players in junior pitcher and opening day starter Logan Boyer, junior outfielder Julian Escobedo and sophomore pitcher and infielder Casey Schmitt.  

Martinez said the presence of veteran players helps with the newcomers on the team.

“I think the older guys can lend their experience of winning championships and passing that information and those expectations on to the younger guys,” he said. “We have some guys that have played in a regional, that have won some championships…we also have some new faces.”

One of the new faces to join the Aztecs this season is transfer senior infielder Angelo Armenta.

Armenta, who transferred from University of Southern California, said the team’s focus is something that has them prepared for the season.

“I wasn’t here last year, but I think the team dynamics are really good this year. Everyone’s focused and ready to do their jobs,” he said.

SDSU will begin the MW season on Mar. 1 on the road against Air Force. Despite the two week stretch, the team’s mentality is to treat each game just as equally.

“It doesn’t really matter who we play,” Rudick said. “If they’re the top team in the country or they’re not ranked, you know we’re going to go out there and compete.”

SDSU begins its season on Feb. 13 against University of San Francisco at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

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