SDSU baseball wins first conference game in late comeback against Fresno State, 5-4

by Mayer Pohlod, Staff Writer

San Diego State baseball turned things around in the final innings of the finale of their three-game series against Fresno State after winning the rubber match on Sunday, 5-4.

The win is their first conference victory of the season and it brings the Aztecs to 1-2 in the Mountain West and 2-10 overall. Snapping a seven-game losing streak, it’s also SDSU’s first home win. On the other side, it was Fresno’s first loss all season, and puts the Bulldogs at 2-1 in conference and 11-1 overall.

SDSU struck first in the bottom of second.

After two singles put runners on the corners with two outs, sophomore second baseman Justin Wylie came up to bat. When the runner on first, freshman first baseman Jordan Verdon, took off to steal second, senior left fielder Spencer Thornton stole home on the ensuing catcher’s throw. Two pitches later, Wylie lined a single to left field, scoring Verdon to put the Aztecs up 2-0.

The two runs were the first that Bulldogs starter Anthony Arias had given up all season, after going 12 1/3 innings without giving up any runs, earned or unearned.

Arias’ counterpart, junior lefty Brett Seeburger, made that two-run deficit comfortable for most of the game. Other than giving up one run in the fifth, he was fantastic for 6 2/3 innings, striking out a career-high nine batters while only walking two.

“It’s just what the doctor ordered. He gutted it out. It was a great performance,” head coach Mark Martinez said.

However, after his ninth strikeout in the seventh, Seeburger relinquished a single and a walk, prompting Martinez to bring in freshman Harrison Pyatt in relief. Pyatt would not get the job done, however, giving up three walks, a run and a hit without recording an out, including allowing two inherited runners to score.

Sophomore Jacob Erickson came into the game in relief of him and finished out the last 2 1/3 innings, striking out one without giving up any hits or walks.

Down two runs and needing a spark, the Aztecs got one in the bottom of the eighth after sophomore shortstop Alan Trejo struck out on a dropped third strike. Fortunately for SDSU, the Bulldogs catcher Joe Prior misplay the pitch and allowed Trejo to reach first.

A single and an error later, freshman Niko Navarro came in to pinch hit with the bases loaded for sophomore right fielder Tyler Adkison.

“(Fresno pitcher Dylan Lee) has a really good fastball, split finger type deal. He’s got a great changeup and you try to take that away with a left handed bat,” Martinez said of his choice to pinch hit for Adkison. “Niko’s been working his butt off and we wanted to reward him with an important at-bat and he came through.”

Going down in the count 0-2 immediately against Lee, Navarro battled back to 1-2 before lining a pitch into the gap on the right side of the infield, singling home two runs to tie the game up at 4-4.

“Just remaining confident, that’s the biggest thing,” Navarro said. “I don’t want to be negative up there, especially in that situation. Just remaining positive.”

After Verdon got hit by a pitch, Wylie came up with the finishing blow after singling home Thornton to take the lead 5-4. Pinch running for Navarro, sophomore Denz’l Chapman was thrown out at home.

The one run was all that would be needed, as Erickson would retire the side in the top of ninth on three flyouts to pick up the win.

The Aztecs look to build on their first win at home when they take on Northwestern University this next weekend in a four-game series. The first game starts on Thursday, March 10, at 6 p.m.


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