Baseball rallies in eighth inning to defeat Arizona, 6-4


File photo

Sophomore outfielder Matt Rudick crosses home plate in the eighth inning of the Aztecs’ 6-4 victory over Arizona on March 25, 2019 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

by Daniel Guerrero, Staff Writer

A three-run bottom of the eighth was the difference maker in San Diego State baseball’s 6-4 victory over University of Arizona on March 25 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The Aztecs (14-9, 4-3 MW) found themselves down 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, but received a game tying RBI single from sophomore outfielder Matt Rudick and a go-ahead RBI single from senior shortstop Angelo Armenta.

Armenta said the come from behind victory showed the team’s resilience.

“It was a tough win,” he said. “I think we showed that we’re tough and that we can come back and make plays and make big hits.”

SDSU trailed 4-3 at the start of the eighth inning after sophomore Jacob Flores walked sophomore center fielder Donta Williams with the bases loaded to bring home sophomore shortstop Jacob Bilas.

Head coach Mike Martinez said the team’s come from behind win didn’t come easy.

“We gutted out a victory today,” he said. “Our guys gutted it out on the mound and we found a way to win offensively.”

The first two Aztec runs of the game came off of a two-run home run in the first inning by sophomore third baseman Casey Schmitt, who later added another RBI to his night in the eighth inning, following Armenta’s go-ahead hit.

Martinez said Schmitt has been maturing as a hitter.

“He’s starting to find a way to manage his at-bats and try not to do too much,” he said. “That’s kind of where he gets himself in trouble when he tries to do too much. When he stays within himself he’s a really special player.”

Aztecs freshman pitcher Brian Leonhardt logged 3.1 innings and allowed just one run in his first career start on the mound.

The freshman, who has started 22 games at first base for the Aztecs, had previously been used exclusively out of the bullpen. In three relief outings before his start, Leonhardt totaled 3.1 innings for the season.

Martinez said Leonhardt is someone who they hope to keep developing.

“He’s a guy we’re going to continue to increase his workload on the mound,” he said. “We’re short handed so it’s a great opportunity for him to start. I thought he responded very well.”

Flores and sophomore Casey O’Sullivan combined for 4.1 innings of relief work for the Aztecs, before sophomore Daniel Ritcheson entered the ballgame.

Ritcheson, the game’s winning pitcher, said the pitching staff has had a next man up mentality during a stretch where SDSU’s pitching staff has lacked depth.

“Everyone is just ready to get in there and everyone’s doing their job and that’s just what we’re going to have to keep doing until we get all our guys back,” he said.

The Aztecs return to action against California Baptist University on March 26 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.