Two good seasons. One bad day.
Now the question: what's next for San Diego State's baseball and softball teams?
On the baseball diamond, in Ogden, Utah, SDSU -- which has been carried all season by pitching and defense -- neither pitched nor played defense in a 15-5 loss to Utah. The Aztecs allowed 27 baserunners and (a rather embarrassing) 8 unearned runs to cost themselves any chance of a second-place finish in the Mountain West Conference regular season standings.
Second-place not only might have clinched an NCAA Tournament berth for SDSU, but it also would have earned them a bye in the first-round of next week's MWC Tournament. Now, with fourth-place likely SDSU (36-19 overall, 14-9 MWC) will have to take the long road to the tournament championship.
As for softball, a 5-0 loss to defending national champion Arizona State in the first game of the NCAA Tournament at Tempe, Ariz., wasn't necessarily unexpected. However, Kathy Van Wyk's team (33-19) practically gave this game away, stranding all kinds of baserunners and handing ASU three runs on a bases-loaded walk, a bases-loaded hit by pitch, and a passed ball.
The Aztec women left seven runners on base -- five in the first three innings -- and did not come up with a single hit in 14 tries with runners on base.
Adding to their misery was a blown call by the umpires that probably cost them two runs in the top of the 2nd-inning and what should have been a 2-1 lead. Shortstop Jen Wisneski laid down a bunt with two runners on, and a wild throw down the first-base line allowed both runners to score. However, umpires rules (incorrectly) that Wisneski's bunt landed foul rather than fair -- negating the two runs.
There was no such controversy in the baseball game, where the Aztecs committed five errors behind a quartet of pitchers, none of whom got the job done in the season's most important game to date.
Utah's Austin Jones was a one-man wrecking crew with a home run, two doubles, a single and 7 RBI's. Eric Castro homered for the fourth-straight game for SDSU, but his solo shot in the eighth was far too little, too late.
Neither loss Friday was a death knell for the Aztecs' boys and girls of spring, but now the margin for error has nearly closed shut.
The softball team will need to win twice on Saturday to keep their double-elimination first-round regional hopes alive. Then they'll have to win twice on Sunday in order to advance. A tall order, indeed.
The baseball team will finish regular season play Saturday against Utah, then head to Fort Worth, Texas, where they'll need to win at least four games in six days in order to assure themselves of Coach Tony Gwynn's first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Tyler Lavigne will start the MWC tourney opener on Tuesday, likely against UNLV, and then All-American Stephen Strasburg will take the hill Wednesday, probably against top-seed TCU. Wins in both games will be all but mandatory for the Aztecs to have a shot at the title.
Neither team will be gong anywhere, however, if they suffer any more days like Friday.
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