Leonhardt helps Aztecs take down No. 17 Long Beach State

Sophomore+pitcher+Brian+Leonhardt+looks+to+throw+a+strike+during+the+Aztecs%27+7-2+win+over+Long+Beach+State+on+March+4+at+Tony+Gwynn+Stadium.+Leonhardt+pitched+four+shutout+innings+and+went+2-for-4+from+the+plate.

Luis Lopez

Sophomore pitcher Brian Leonhardt looks to throw a strike during the Aztecs' 7-2 win over Long Beach State on March 4 at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Leonhardt pitched four shutout innings and went 2-for-4 from the plate.

by Reese Savoie, Staff Writer

San Diego State baseball defeated No. 17 Long Beach State, 7-2, on Tuesday, March 3 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The Aztecs (9-4) entered Tuesday night after having just come off a split series against Oregon State over the weekend. However, the Aztecs pulled through with a victory against the Dirtbags (8-4), bolstering their résumé with another win over a ranked opponent

Here are three observations from Tuesday’s game.

1. Brian Leonhardt demonstrates versatility on the baseball field

Sophomore pitcher Brian Leonhardt started for SDSU. This was his third time on the mound so far this season, and only his second time this year starting out of the bullpen.

Leonhard started off shaky by giving up a leadoff single to Dirtbags senior outfielder Calvin Estrada.

A wild pitch allowed Estrada to advance to second, which was followed by two walks to load the bases for the Dirtbags.

Leonhardt cleaned things up and was able to end the inning giving up no runs.

He said his ability to escape from tough innings came down to ball control.

“Just trusting my stuff,” he said. “Keeping the same arm speed and letting the ball run.”

Leonhardt pitched four shutout innings, allowing two hits and struck out three.

Head coach Mark Martinez acknowledged Leonhardt’s effective, though risky, defensive game.

“Brian kind of pitched on the edge of danger most of the night, but did a really nice job of keeping (the Dirtbags) off-balance,” Martinez said.

Leonhardt came through offensively as well. He went 2-for-4 and scored a run for the Scarlet and Black.

His mental game and ability to stay locked in were key components in his success against Long Beach, both on the mound and at the plate.

“I just kind of went up there, and since I was thinking and working so much on the mound, when I got up there to play I had nothing to think about,” he said. “I was all about pitching. When I got out of pitching, it was just hitting.”

2. Half of the batting lineup contributes to Aztecs’ run production

The Aztecs brought home seven runs, with a total of five different players crossing home plate.

SDSU’s offense got started early, with the bottom of the first inning yielding two unearned runs for the Scarlet and Black. A sacrifice fly by junior outfielder Matt Rudick brought home senior outfielder Mike Jarvis, while junior infielder Casey Schmitt scored on a single to left field by junior infielder Anthony Walters.

“Our offense was hot tonight,” Walters said. “We were looking for pitches and we got them.”

Jarvis and Schmitt, both of whom contributed runs in the first inning, brought home two teammates in the bottom of the fourth, extending the Aztecs’ lead to 5-0.

Long Beach State answered back in the seventh inning with two unearned runs but this ended up not being enough.

Two additional runs scored earlier in the night by sophomore outfielder Jaden Fein, along with a double by senior first baseman Jason Cruce to bring home Schmitt in the bottom of the seventh kept SDSU ahead by a large margin.

Overall, the Aztecs had 10 hits and seven RBIs.

Martinez was impressed with his team’s ability to remain on track throughout the entire competition.

“Offensively I thought we did a really nice job sticking to a game plan,” he said. “The guys executed it very well.”

That game plan was something Walters attributed to the Aztecs’ victory as well. He noted that collaboration played a key role in securing Tuesday’s W on the diamond.

“Teamwork is always a big part of winning,” he said. “When we all stick to a game plan, it shows that we can go out and do some damage.”

3. Aztecs continue to build their résumé

With another Big West victory in the books, the Aztecs look to add to their increasingly impressive résumé.

Walters said that winning games against Top 25 teams like the Dirtbags speaks to the work ethic of the Scarlet and Black, and is a sign of what’s to come.

“We’re out there and we’re ready to beat somebody,” he said. “Whoever it is, we’re ready to beat them.”

The Dirtbags entered Tony Gwynn Stadium on Tuesday coming off a series win against the No. 4/18 Mississippi State, giving them a No. 17 ranking. However, despite the Dirtbags’ status, the Aztecs were able to take care of business.

Martinez was pleased with his team’s victory and said that the work Aztecs put in on the baseball field helps them to prepare for what’s to come.

“We’re building our résumé for postseason,” he said. “(Long Beach State) is a really good program. They have some really sparkling wins on their schedule, so it’s nice to get out of here with a W.”

Walters said his squad is ready for the upcoming competition this season.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re Pac 12 or the Big West. It doesn’t matter,” he said. “We’re gonna go out there and compete with them.”

SDSU will play again this Friday at 6 p.m. CT at L. Dale Mitchell Park against No.11/15 Oklahoma.

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