San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Column: Three keys to a successful 2022 Aztec Baseball season

Jenna Meyer
The Aztecs’s 2022 schedule has them playing most of their games at Tony Gwynn Stadium, including the Mountain West Conference championship,

After completing the 2021 season full of Saturday double-headers, cross-town rivals, and many conference matchups, the Aztecs finished in second — trailing the University of Nevada Reno — with a 30-16 record. 

The 2022 Aztec Baseball season gives the team a shot at redemption and hopes to secure the Mountain West Conference Championship, with the tournament being held at Tony Gwynn Stadium May 26-29. 

With a full slate of mid-week games, weekend series, and non-conference opponents up ahead, here are three keys for the Scarlet and Black to have a successful baseball season. 

Finding strength and consistency in the pitching rotation 

Last season, SDSU had difficulties in finalizing a consistent and effective pitching rotation. The typical rotation included right-handed pitchers Troy Melton and Michael Paredes, with the Sunday starter often varying between RHP Ricky Tibbett or seeing multiple arms through a collective bullpen day. 

Melton — a two-time Mountain West Pitcher of the Week and 2021 Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List member — returns to the Mesa again in 2022. Melton made 15 starts going 4-5 last season and will return to the mound as a starter this season.

“Everyone knows who Troy Melton is. He’s a guy we are fortunate to get back,” head coach Mark Martinez said.

Paredes, who went 4-0 in the 2021 season was selected in the MLB Draft in the 18th round to the Minnesota Twins, leaving a hole in the weekend rotation. Left-handed pitcher Brian Leonhardt — who also served as a successful designated hitter in 2021 — would be a key player to fill this role and responsibility. 

Tibbett made seven starts with a 4-2 record. He secured his first two wins in consecutive series’ in an away matchup against San Jose State in late March and at home against New Mexico in early April. 

Senior Jacob Flores will also return to the mound for the Aztecs after pitching just five innings for the team due to injuries last season. 

Martinez said he’s excited to get Flores back on the field. 

“It is nice to have an experienced guy, who’ll pitch on the weekend for us with a calming presence,” Martinez shared. 

A new face on the mound will be transfer Robert Brodell, likely to be a closer for the Scarlet and Black. 

“He has a really great arm, up to 95-96mph with a really good breaking ball.”

Utilizing Young Talent 

After the completion of the 2021 draft, the Aztecs lost seven players who contributed to the team’s overall success. Losing seven players to the Major League Draft would often be detrimental to a Division 1 program like SDSU.

With those that left for the Major League, the new, young talent has been added to the program with 10 freshman and five transfer students — three from Division 1 programs and two from California junior colleges. It will be crucial for SDSU’s success to utilize the young talent to find the perfect compatibility of athletes on the field. 

“I feel really good about where we are talent-wise,” Martinez said. “What’s going to happen is the experience is going to expose us to certain situations during games and we’re going to have to manage that.”

Sophomore utility player Cole Carrigg will be a key contributor. After making 33 starting appearances as a freshman in 2021, Carrigg can step in and meet the varying needs of the Aztecs with his experience pitching, hitting, and in center field.

“​​Cole Carrigg, who’s an experienced guy, who played third base, second base, and outfield for us last year, could be our everyday centerfielder,” Martinez said. “He could be our everyday second or shortstop…Cole is one of our best athletes to put in a high leverage position in the middle of the field.”

Being hungry for every single win

While the Aztecs won a majority of their games with a 30-16 record and finished second in the conference, there were often small slip-up games followed by absolute domination to conference opponents. 

“Hopefully with an experienced pitching staff, you can kind of manage the crooked numbers on the other side and allow us to come back in a game and win,” Martinez said. 

In the Fresno State series, the Scarlet and Black lost the first game of the series 3-2 but followed with convincing wins on both Saturday and Sunday with scores of 17-0 and 12-7. The Aztecs ended their 2021 season dropping a 17-7 loss to New Mexico in 7 innings but came back to finish the series with two wins. 

By starting each game aggressively, the Aztecs will not only be able to secure more wins but complete full sweeps of conference opponents that will better cushion them in the standings for more competitive opponents like Nevada and UNLV.

The Aztecs will kick off the 2022 campaign in the MLB4 Tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona from Feb. 18 to Feb. 20. They will be taking on opponents such as the University of California Berkeley (29-26 in 2021), the University of Houston (19-34 in 2021), and Texas Christian University (41-19 in 2021). 

To stay updated throughout San Diego State’s Baseball season and journey to the Mountain West conference tournament, make sure you are following @AztecsGotGame and host @jennaameyer on Twitter.

About the Contributor
Jenna Meyer, Staff Writer

Jenna is a third-year communication student from Seattle, Washington. This is her first year writing and reporting for the Daily Aztec. She hopes to work in the realms of broadcast journalism or as an in-game host for professional sports. Jenna follows Major League Baseball, specifically the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres, as well as San Diego State baseball. She enjoys spending time on campus and in student organizations such as SDSU Women in Sports and Sports Business Initiative. Follow her on Twitter @jennaameyer.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Column: Three keys to a successful 2022 Aztec Baseball season