Aztecs win finale to take three of four against Air Force


File photo

Then-sophomore pitcher Casey Schmitt pitches in the Aztecs’ 5-4 victory over Air Force on April 20, 2019 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

by Daniel Guerrero, Staff Writer

San Diego State baseball capped off a four-game home series against Air Force with a 5-4 win on April 20 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The Aztecs (24-17, 10-7 MW) were down 2-0 to the Falcons (17-22, 7-12 MW) in the first inning, but a two-RBI day from sophomore third baseman/pitcher Casey Schmitt and RBIs from both freshman first baseman Jaden Fein and junior second baseman Mike Jarvis helped the Aztecs overcome the early deficit.

Schmitt also earned his fifth save of the season, despite giving up a solo home run to senior catcher Rob Dau in the ninth inning.

Head coach Mark Martinez said the victory was a grind after the Aztecs played five games in five days.

“(It was) a gutty win by our program,” Martinez said. “We just finished probably the toughest part of our schedule. Our guys definitely were running on empty this weekend.”

Dau’s home run gave hope for the Falcons as it brought Air Force within one run, but Schmitt struck out senior first baseman Gabe Martinez and forced sophomore designated hitter Christian Gambale to ground out to close the door on the Falcons.

The biggest offensive inning for the Aztecs came in the team’s three-run third inning.

Junior catcher Ryan Orr opened the scoring after he crossed home on a fielding error by freshman shortstop Alexander Pup and an at-bat later Schmitt delivered a two-run RBI to give the Aztecs a 3-2 lead.

Jarvis extended the lead in the fourth inning with a two-out RBI double and an inning later Fein put the Aztecs up 5-2 with his solo home run.

Fein’s solo home run was his fourth of the season and it put him in a three-way tie with junior center fielder Julian Escobedo and senior left fielder Chad Bible as the team’s season leader in home runs.

Fein said he values his ability to help the Aztecs win over his statistical rankings.

“I’m glad to help the team in any I can,” he said. “Obviously it’s cool for personal stats, but anyway to win, it’s awesome.”

Sophomore Jacob Flores provided the Aztecs with four innings of relief support after he entered the ballgame with no outs in the first inning. Flores surrendered two hits and two walks, but struck out five batters before his day was done.

Flores said his trust in his teammates and coaches helped his performance on the mound.

“I just believed that with the guys behind me I was gonna do just fine,” Flores said.

Senior Harrison Pyatt was pulled from the ballgame after surrendering a two-run home run to junior left fielder Tommy Gillman with no outs in the first inning. Pyatt left the contest due to apparent arm issues

Sophomores Daniel Ritcheson, Christian Winston and Casey O’Sullivan combined for 3.2 innings pitched after Flores was pulled from the ballgame.

Martinez said the bullpen played an important role in the victory.

“(Pyatt) had to come out of the game with some arm problems and we kind of mixed and matched throughout the rest of the game,” Martinez said. “They did a great job of getting us to the finish line.”

The Aztecs will play their next game on April 23 at University of San Diego.