Baseball falls short against Fresno after ninth-inning run spoils late-game rally


Raymond Gorospe

Freshman pitcher Aaron Eden works off the mound during the Aztecs 4-2 loss to San Diego on Feb. 26 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

by Daniel Guerrero, Staff Writer

A late comeback fell short for San Diego State baseball during a 5-4 loss to Fresno State on March 29 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The Aztecs (14-11, 4-4 MW) scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game at 4-4 against the Bulldogs (12-7, 3-4 MW), but sophomore Casey O’Sullivan gave up a game deciding two-out RBI single to senior designated hitter McCarthy Tatum in the top of the ninth inning.

Head coach Mark Martinez said wins don’t come easy.

“Winning college baseball games is extremely hard,” he said. “Unless we have a tougher minded group we’re going to lose more baseball games.”

Sophomore right fielder Matt Rudick gave his team hope after he led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a single, but the Aztecs would then go down in order to close the ballgame.

Martinez said the team didn’t capitalize on the opportunity.

“We had an opportunity to take the lead, but we’re not in a place where we’re tough enough to win those really tight games,” Martinez said.

The loss is the sixth for Aztecs in games where they have held or been tied for the lead when entering the sixth inning or later.

Martinez said close game losses have been a problem.

“Either we toughen up and out tough some opponents or we’re going to continue to play .500 baseball,” he said. “It’s kind of a recurring theme with our group, we’ve lost a lot of baseball games throughout the season the season based on mental toughness.”

The three-run eighth inning rally from the Aztecs began with sophomore third baseman Casey Schmitt’s and freshman first baseman Brian Leonhardt’s back-to-back two-out singles.

Sophomore catcher Joe Fitzhugh drove in the pair with a double during the next at-bat and scored on a throwing error by sophomore shortstop JT Arruda after senior designated hitter Chad Bible grounded a ball to the shortstop.  

Fitzhugh said his team struggles to find consistency at the plate.

“We have the talent and when we all hook together and do the little things together then we start scoring, but the big problem we have is doing it (for) all nine innings,” he said.

Flores (0-1) entered the game after freshman Aaron Eden was pulled from his start, and ended the game with the loss after allowing one hit and on one earned run in 2.1 innings of work.  

Flores said he wanted to keep his team’s chances of winning alive.

“I just came in throwing strikes and gave my team an opportunity because I knew we were down,” Flores said. “I just gave my team an opportunity to maybe and hopefully get the win.”

The Bulldogs scored four runs in the fourth inning after being limited to one hit in the first three innings by Eden.

Fresno State sophomore first baseman Zach Presno doubled home two RBIs, senior center fielder Zach Ashford singled in another RBI and sophomore designated hitter Emilio Nogales scored from home on a wild pitch.

Eden completed six innings of work and struck out seven batters before he was removed. The strikeout total tied Eden’s career-high and season-high single game strikeout total.

Schmitt scored the Aztecs first run of ballgame after coming home from second base on a throwing error by Tatum in the first inning.

Sophomore right fielder Matt Rudick extended his career-high hitting streak to 17 straight games following a two-hit performance.

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