Monday, March 16, 2009

Aztecs Baseball Weekend In Review

A tremendous weekend for SDSU Baseball ended with a three-game sweep of UNLV yesterday, 15-2 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.  The Aztecs have now won four straight and seven of their last eight games, improving to 11-6, 3-0 MWC.  Thoughts on all three games:

FRIDAY: Over 2,100 take in the game at TGS, leading to a host of logistical problems, from long ticket lines to parking structure-change making issues.  By the 3rd inning it was hard to find an empty seat in the house.  They've come to see Strasburg and Stephen does not disappoint, striking out the side in the 1st and 2nd innings and recording an insane 10 K's through four innings.  UNLV scores off Strasburg twice, the first involving a walk-steal-balk and the second a strikeout-wild pitch.  Stephen runs up his pitch count, forcing him out after 7 innings, but the big crowd sees 14 strikeouts against just one walk, with six hits and two runs allowed.  Three in the first and one in the 2nd is enough for the SDSU offense, and the bullpen survives a shaky 9th from Addison Reed to close out a 4-3 win.  Erik Castro shows signs of breaking out of a season-long slump with his first HR of the year and a 2-for-3 night.  

SATURDAY: It's a matinee, scheduled head-to-head with the start of the MWC basketball championships in Las Vegas, so I knew the crowd would be a big drop from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.  About 1600 less, as a matter of fact.  Those watching the basketball disappointment at home miss one of the most complete games of the Aztecs' season to date.  The story is Jon Berger, a senior who got boxed around badly last year but has found great control and a breaking pitch to complement his excellent changeup.  Berger strikes out a career-high 10 over 8 innings, all but one on his slow-slow-slower change.  After a slow start against impressive whip-thin UNLV freshman right-hander Tanner Peters, the Aztecs rise up with three runs in the 5th and three more in the 8th.  Pat Colwell's in the middle of things as usual, leading off with a base hit for the 5th straight game, he finishes 2-4 with an RBI.  Leading 6-1 in the 9th, Tony Gwynn thinks he's going to be able to rest his closer, until James McLaughlin loads the bases with nobody out.  In comes Reed for his best appearance of the season, striking out three straight for his career-best 6th save.  6-1 SDSU the final. 

SUNDAY: Here is where the Aztecs can really separate themselves from other teams in their conference.  While UNLV throws Corey Hales, a senior with an 8.10 ERA, the Aztecs counter with Tyler Lavigne, a solid sinker-baller who has kept his team in the game every time out.  SDSU's pitching depth is starting to reveal itself, and never more so than today.  Lavigne strikes out 8 in 5+ innings, and is never hit hard.  The only three singles he allows are little rollers or choppers off his sinker.  The Aztecs' bullpen finishes off with four shutout innings, with three hits and no walks allowed.  Oh, what about the offense?  Feasting on the back end of the Rebels' pitching staff, SDSU bangs out 14 hits and 15 runs in a 15-2 laugher.  Ever since his walkoff HR against USD last Friday, Cory Vaughn has been on an absolute tear: 

7 games: 10-26 (.385), 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 9 RS, 3BB, 2 HBP, 4K, 4 SB

Yesterday Cory ripped an 0-2 fastball up the middle for a two-run single in the first, used his speed to leg out an infield dribbler for a single in the 3rd, laced a triple down the left-field line and into the corner in the 5th (part of a 7-run inning), and then blasted a hanger over the left-field fence for a 3-run HR in the 7th.  He never got to bat again, finishing a double short of the cycle.  It was also great to see Josh Chasse, a hard worker who struggles to crack the outfield lineup, come off the bench and go 2-2 with 3 RBI, including his first college HR, a no-doubter in the 8th.  

Kansas is in town Tuesday and Wednesday and then it's BYU for a three-game series on Thursday-Friday-Saturday.  I would anticipate the SDSU rotation for the next five days to be as follows, but it's not official:

Ryan O'Sullivan-Tuesday
Nate Solow-Wednesday
Stephen Strasburg-Thursday
Jon Berger-Friday
Tyler Lavigne-Saturday

1 comment:

  1. State needs to finally make the jump to Omaha.

    Hopefully this last series will be the stepping stone to putting the Aztecs on the map. There is no way that a school located in the middle of a baseball talent hotbed should not compete for a National Championship every year.

    How could any recruit walk on to State's campus and not want to go to school there? Tony Gwynn as a hitting instructor, to say nothing for the obvious benefits of attending school in SD....

    Make the step, Aztecs!