Aztecs collapse in eighth inning, lose against USD


Raymond Gorospe

Senior infielder Angelo Armenta steps on home plate to score a run during the Aztecs’ 4-2 loss against San Diego on Feb. 23 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

by Daniel Guerrero, Staff Writer

San Diego State baseball found itself on the wrong side of a 4-2 finish against University of San Diego on Tuesday night, after a run-filled eighth inning at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The Aztecs surrendered four runs in the top of the eighth inning and couldn’t climb all the way back, despite scoring two and loading the bases in the bottom half.

Head coach Mark Martinez said the lack of fundamentals led to the Toreros’ eighth inning scoring outburst.

“The inning blew up on us because we can’t field our position,” Martinez said. “From the mound, we get a balk call and didn’t field a ground ball. We’ve got to give credit to USD. They beat us and I think we have a lot of room for improvement.”

USD’s junior third baseman Adam Lopez brought home the game’s first run on an RBI double that was hit to the left field corner with no outs in the top of the eighth inning.

The Toreros added their second run after sophomore pitcher Casey O’Sullivan overthrew sophomore third baseman on a force out following USD’s sophomore center fielder Tora Otsuka’s sacrifice bunt attempt.

Martinez replaced O’Sullivan with junior pitcher Adrian Mardueno, but he balked in Tora on a failed hidden ball trick after Tora advanced to third on single by sophomore first baseman Shane McGuire.

The Aztecs scored both of their runs in the bottom of the eighth with recording a hit.

Back-to-back four pitch bases loaded walks to freshman first baseman Brian Leonhardt and sophomore third baseman Casey Schmitt brought in two runs, but the rally ended after freshman right fielder Jaden Fein grounded into a fielder’s choice.

The two-run rally began when junior designated hitter Mike Jarvis and senior shortstop Angelo Armenta reached base after back-to-back hit by pitches. Sophomore catcher Joe Fitzhugh then loaded the bases after earning a four pitch walk.

Junior center fielder Julian Escobedo, who popped out in foul territory for the inning’s second out, said it was unfortunate that the team couldn’t take the lead at the end of the inning.

“It’s just unfortunate that we didn’t come out on top with bases loaded,” Escobedo said. “We have one out and we didn’t get the job done and we didn’t put up really good at bats, but that’s part of the game.”

Freshman pitcher Aaron Eden hurled 6 1/3 innings in what was his first career collegiate start.

Prior to his start, Eden had logged 5 1/3 innings with an 1.69 ERA in three relief outings.

Martinez said Eden still has room for improvement after his performance.

“He did a good job pitching, keeping them off balance,” Martinez said. “He can be a special, special talent. He still has some things he has to grow up to, he’s a freshman and we’re looking for big things from him.”

Eden’s night began with the Toreros threatening to score, but the freshman was able to strand four men on base in the first three innings before he found his rhythm.  

USD had runners reach second and third base in the top of the second inning, but Eden got Lopez to pop out in foul territory to escape the threat.

In the top of the first, Eden stranded freshman Cody Jefferis on second base after getting sophomore right fielder Shane Ricketts to foul to left field. He later got Ricketts to strand sophomore center fielder Tora Otsuka on second base to end the USD threat in the third inning.

Eden said it took mental toughness and faith in his teammates to get out of the situations.

“It just took being mentally tough,” Eden said. “Worrying about the things I could control and just trying to throw strikes knowing that my teammates have my back.”

The Aztecs left six runners on base through the first eight innings.

Freshman right fielder Jaden Fein flied out to left field to end the bottom of the fourth inning after Leonhardt and Schmitt got on base. In the bottom of the first inning, SDSU left runners on first and third base to end in the bottom of the first inning after sophomore catcher Joe Fitzhugh flied out to end the inning.

Fein was left on first base to end the second inning when junior center fielder Jacob Maekawa struck out swinging for the inning’s third out.

Escobedo said the team lacked offensive energy in their loss.

“A lot of energy just wasn’t there tonight,” Escobedo said. “A big rivalry playing USD, but things didn’t come out as planned.”

SDSU will play at Air Force on March 1 in the team’s first MW conference game of the season.