As if the losses could get any more noteworthy, San Diego State baseball dropped two games in a matter of four hours to Mountain West opponent University of Nevada, Reno.
In a continuation of a suspended contest that began on April 3, the Aztecs (12-28, 5-12) allowed one run in the eleventh inning to the home Wolfpack (21-20, 11-8), who with the 7-6 win officially completed their third consecutive series sweep of the Aztecs.
The two teams had little time to digest the finish, however, as game one of the current series – which ended in an 8-5 Nevada victory – was set to begin.
SDSU started the contest off on a good note, scoring a run in the bottom of the first on a double hit by sophomore right fielder Tyler Adkison, his team-leading 11th double of the season.
But Nevada responded with a huge inning, something that has become a commonality against the Aztecs in 2016.
The second frame began with the first two batters reaching base safely, setting up a three-run home run off the bat of sophomore outfielder Jordan Pearce, only his second long ball of 2016.
All of this came with no outs on the board.
Three additional runs on two RBI doubles put the Wolfpack up 6-1, and put the Aztecs in an early whole that they would be unable to climb out of.
Head coach Mark Martinez was critical of his team’s mental toughness.
“We don’t handle small little thunderbolts that happen throughout the game,” coach Martinez said of his team. “A small little non-play in the second inning turns into six runs because our pitcher couldn’t settle in.”
A second homer in the sixth inning, this one from top Nevada hitter in sophomore center fielder TJ Freidl, paired with an RBI single, gave the visitors a comfortable 8-1 advantage.
Despite one score in the sixth and three more in the bottom of the seventh inning – all on sacrifice plays, fielding errors or wild pitches – the Aztecs saw another game slip away from them, giving them a third consecutive loss and making a possible postseason run all the less hopeful.
Clawing back into games from behind has been a regular occurrence for the Aztecs in 2016, and is something that coach Martinez believe his team is not built to do.
“When we’re down or its a close game,” Martinez said, “we haven’t grown up to how to win at the division one level.”
Redshirt-freshman Harrison Pyatt, who has been pegged as the no. 1 guy for this young pitching staff, struggled again tonight, lasting only 1.1 innings while giving up six runs before being replaced by junior lefty Brett Seeburger.
“A redshirt-freshman is what we got tonight,” Martinez said of Pyatt’s performance. “He was a little immature and he couldn’t handle some thunderbolts that hit him. He could’ve gotten out of the inning with one run really.”
“He pitched soft.”
Pyatt has been only one of the various SDSU pitchers that have been unable to make consistently solid performances.
Another one of those pitchers is Saturday’s starter, junior lefty Dominic Purpura, who will be making his seventh start of 2016.
Purpura’s goal, one that most starters have been unable to do this year for the Aztecs, will be to contain opposing offenses, according to Harrison Pyatt.
“If we can just keep them under five a game,” Pyatt said, “I think we have a shot.”
That lack of pitching dominance has played into the significant drop off from the winning that SDSU has experienced in the last few years.
But, according to redshirt-senior outfielder Spencer Thornton, who was a part of all three MW champion teams, this team’s season is far from over.
“We are typically one or two plays away every game,” Thornton said. “My freshman year, we were in the same exact position as this. We went into the tournament not thinking anything of it, and we just got hot and made it into the championship.”
“I believe this team can do it.”