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

Baseball rallies late, but loses 5-4 to Portland in season opener

The Aztecs fell short, with 12 walks and three hit batters giving the Pilots the edge
Callum Wilson
San Diego State outfielder Irvin Weems slides home safely during the eighth inning against Portland on Friday, Feb. 16 at Tony Gwynn Stadium. The Aztecs rallied late, but fell to the Pilots 5-4 on Opening Day.

The San Diego State baseball team kicked off its 85th season against the University of Portland, falling 5-4 at Tony Gwynn Stadium on Friday, Feb.16.

Junior Chris Canada, named to the preseason all-Mountain West team, took the mound as the starting pitcher for SDSU, opposed by Nick Brink for Portland. The game remained scoreless for the initial three innings.

Portland took the lead in the top of the fourth inning, capitalizing on wild pitching to score two runs. Two consecutive walks issued by Canada prompted a pitching change, with Jacob Riordan taking over the mound. The first run came home on a walk, and the second on a hit-by-pitch. SDSU got all three outs of the inning with strikeouts, one by Canada and two by Riordan.

Canada reflected on the significant number of walks in the game. “I feel like we lost that game more than they won it,” he said.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Aztecs stranded a runner in scoring position. With two outs, third baseman Colby Turner hit a triple, but shortstop Xavier Gonzalez’s fly ball to right field was caught for the third out.

Portland’s third baseman, Spencer Scott, broke the no-hitter in the top of the sixth with a single to right field. Issac Araiza subsequently took over the mound and helped the Aztecs out of the inning without allowing any runs.

The Pilots extended their lead to 4-0 in the seventh inning.

With runners on first and second base, Portland shortstop Jonas Salk hit a single through the right side, advancing on a fielding error by SDSU’s right fielder Shaun Montoya. One run scored for Portland while leaving runners on second and third base. The Pilots scored an additional run on a failed pickoff attempt by Araiza.

SDSU launched a comeback in the bottom of the inning, scoring a run to close the gap to 4-1. Gonzalez doubled to left-center off Portland reliever Jack Folkins, followed by catcher Evan Sipe’s double to the same area, bringing Gonzalez across home plate.

The Aztecs tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth. Left fielder Jake Jackson sparked the rally by reaching on a fielding error. Center fielder Irvin Weems singled to left field on a full count, prompting a pitching change by the Pilots, bringing Curtis Herbert to the mound.

First baseman Brady Lavoie then hit a clutch double to center field, driving in two runs, one earned and one unearned. Turner grounded out to the pitcher, advancing Lavoie to third. Gonzalez kept the momentum going with a single to left field, scoring Lavoie and tying the game. Jacob McCombs, pinch-hitting for designated hitter Josh Quezada, struck out swinging. Sipe ended the inning with a fly out to right field.

In the crucial ninth inning of the tied game, Jonny Guzman stepped up to pitch for the Aztecs. Portland regained the lead 5-4. Scott’s single to center field drove in Evan Scavotto, who had reached base on a walk.

As tensions heightened, Tanner Douglas took the mound for the Pilots in the bottom of the ninth and secured three consecutive outs — a pop-up, a strikeout, and a ground ball — to the victory for Portland.

Portland finished with four hits and made two errors, while SDSU had eight hits and also made two errors.

Head coach Shaun Cole expressed frustration, acknowledging the team’s responsibility for several setbacks in the game.

“That’s the nature of the 56-game season. You’re going to have nights like this. You’re going to have ups and downs. We just try to be consistent and ride that roller coaster,” he said.

Baseball will be back in action on Saturday night at 6 p.m. to continue their series against Portland.

“I’m just going out tomorrow like it’s opening day again,” Canada said.

About the Contributor
Callum Wilson, Staff Writer
Callum Wilson (he/him/his) is an 18-year-old journalism major switching to international security conflict resolution. He is originally from a small college town in the middle of Kansas called Manhattan. At six years old he moved to Kansas City where he spent the next six years of his life. In the summer of 2016, he moved to San Diego where he graduated from high school. He did one year at his school’s paper before participating in The San Diego Union-Tribune Community Scholars Program during the summer of 2022. He has an older brother who recently graduated from UCLA. When he isn’t taking photos he is watching soccer, the NFL, and the MLB. Callum religiously supports Kansas City sports, Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, and the local men's team San Diego Loyal.