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

Aztec Baseball loses a battle in the rain versus the Matadors in fourth straight loss

An early six-run deficit proved too much, as the Aztecs lost 7-5 against Cal State University Northridge.
Fernando Martinez
Right-hand pitcher Robert Brodell throws at pitch versus CSU Northridge on Feb. 21, 2023.

As the rain poured down on Tuesday night at Tony Gwynn Stadium, the Aztecs battled the Cal State University Northridge Matadors for their home opener, ultimately losing 7-5.  

Even after surrendering six runs in the first two innings, the Aztecs showed fight, outscoring the Matadors 5-1 throughout the rest of the game with the aid of their bullpen. However, the early deficit proved too large to overcome and the Aztecs dropped their fourth straight game to start the season, their worst start to a season since 2010.

Conditions for the game were uncharacteristic of San Diego, as steady rainfall began to drop on players and fans throughout the entire runtime of the game. Both teams combined to walk seven batters as well as four hit-by pitches, however, San Diego State head coach Mark Martinez said the rain did not factor in their play.

“That’s something we can’t control. We still have to win,” Martinez said.

After losing all three games to Arizona State University over the weekend, the Aztecs looked to get their season on track against an undefeated Matadors team, led by last week’s Big Ten Player of the Week Graysen Tarlow. The Matadors’ offense had scored 42 combined runs in their first three games compared to 11 by their opponent, Stony Brook University.

To try and quiet the Matadors’ offense, the Aztecs started senior pitcher Robert Brodell for his first-ever start. He was only able to go two-thirds of an inning, giving up four runs in the process, putting the Aztecs in a 4-0 hole. His control wavered as he walked four Matadors and hit two others. The Matadors’ offense continued their fast start against the first relief pitcher, freshman Tyson De Wall, who lasted an inning and gave up two more earned runs. 

 The Aztecs were now down 6-0 and the Matadors looked like they would continue their early-season offensive dominance.

 However, the Aztecs punched back, scoring against sophomore starting pitcher Kenji Pallares. The Aztec offense cut the Matador lead in half in the bottom of the second inning and added another run in the third inning to make the score 6-4. The scoring spree was started and ended by junior outfielder TJ Fondtain, who hit a double to begin the rally in the second inning and a solo home run in the third inning.

Infielder Maddox Haley swings at a pitch during a home game against CSU Northridge on Feb. 21, 2023. (Fernando Martinez)

“He didn’t want to throw me any fastballs, so my approach was looking off-speed up and away,” Fondtain said. “Very fortunate enough that I was able to come up with a changeup on the outer half of the plate and I was able to take it to the opposite field. It felt very nice to get my first home run out of the way, and I hope to do even more damage in the future.”

After the early scoring, both teams’ pitching settled down. Aztec relief pitchers junior Ricky Tibbett, sophomore Eldridge Armstrong III, and junior Kelena Sauer combined the rest of the game to go seven and a third innings allowing just two hits and an earned run. They also struck out five Matador hitters in the process.

“[The performances] were huge,” Martinez said. “They are going to keep us in the game all year. Our pitching and defense have been great all year. Our offense, I take full responsibility for it, we aren’t doing a good job. We gotta get some things ironed out so we can start scoring some points.”

Even with performances by the relievers, the Aztecs could not complete the comeback, and after a solo home run by the Matadors in the sixth inning and an Aztec sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, the game ended at a 7-5 final score.  

San Diego State left several opportunities on the field to score more. In the second inning, the Aztecs had runners on first and second with no outs and hit into two ground ball outs. Then, right before the Fondtain third-inning home run, outfielder Cole Carrigg was caught trying to steal second base, which wiped away what would’ve been another run scored. The Aztecs even had the game-tying run up to plate in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, but infielder Maddox Haley lined out to end the game.

The Aztecs will look to get their first win of the season this Friday against Washington State at the Tony Gwynn Legacy, which will last all weekend. 

“Just taking it game to game… we have to find a way to win one,” Martinez said. “That’s the most important thing. Find a way to get a win and get rolling.” 

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Aztec Baseball loses a battle in the rain versus the Matadors in fourth straight loss