Aztecs take down Air Force 4-3 in postponed matchup


File photo

Then-sophomore pitcher Casey Schmitt pitches during his save against Nevada on March 8, 2019 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

by Kyle Betz, Senior Staff Writer

San Diego State baseball entered its game against Air Force on April 18 with a 2-0 advantage with one out in the bottom of the second inning.

The game was a continuation of SDSU and Air Force’s matchup on March 2 in Colorado Springs, which was postponed due to weather conditions.

Although the game  resumed at Tony Gwynn Stadium, the Aztecs were playing as the road team since the game was originally an Air Force home game.

The initial two-run cushion proved to be the difference, as the Aztecs (22-16, 8-6) edged the Falcons (16-20, 6-10) by a final score of 4-3 on Thursday night.

Head coach Mark Martinez said the team did not change its approach to the game despite already having a 2-0 lead.

“It was kind of nice to have a two-run cushion, and it held up,” Martinez said. “We got a (couple of) insurance runs, and fortunately for us, we got out of here with a victory.”

The Aztecs faced a ninth-inning scare but held on for the win.

Junior pitcher Adrian Mardueno entered the game in an attempt to record the save but struggled in the ninth inning by issuing a hit batter, walk and RBI single, prompting sophomore Casey Schmitt to make a relief appearance.

Schmitt started at third base but stepped onto the mound with no outs and two baserunners on.

With the 4-2 score, Schmitt hit a batter to load the bases. A passed-ball strike gave the Falcons another run, yet the Aztecs still held a slim 4-3 lead.

On the next pitch on a full count, Schmitt struck out Falcons junior right fielder Ashton Easley for the second out.

Schmitt then struck out sophomore pinch hitter Ben Hauser looking, escaping the jam to earn his fourth save of the season.

Martinez said Schmitt reassured him before taking the mound in the ninth inning.

“When I went out there to hand him the ball… (Schmitt) said, ‘I got you,’” Martinez said. “When a guy like that is showing that type of confidence, good things are going to happen. I’m very proud of what he did tonight.”

Senior pitcher Harrison Pyatt started the game on March 2 and threw 1.1 shutout innings. Freshman pitcher Aaron Eden took over a month later and tossed 5.2 innings, giving up five hits, a run and a walk.

Eden said he wanted to focus on his location for his third career win.

“I just tried to hit the corners,” Eden said. “I was able to use my pitches in a good, effective way to get ground balls. I wasn’t even trying to get strikeouts or anything, just get weak contact.”

SDSU saw its only offensive production of the night come in the fifth inning, after senior shortstop Angelo Armenta drove in two runs on a double to right field.

Armenta finished the game hitting 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

Designated hitter Deron Johnson also finished 2-for-4, adding an RBI and two doubles.

The Aztecs hit six doubles in total.

The Aztecs will take on the Falcons in a doubleheader on April 19 before concluding the series on April 20 at 1 p.m.

Martinez said the doubleheader has big implications in terms of Mountain West play.

“The message to the team is that you’ve got 18 innings, and you’ve got to win them all,” Martinez said. “This is a big series for our program as far as positioning in conference.”