This weekend, two very different teams took the field in Tony Gwynn Stadium.
On one side is SDSU boasting an elite pitching staff, while the offense has struggled to produce. Their opponent, UNLV, has a lineup loaded with sluggers accompanied by a frail pitching staff.
The weekend ended with the Rebels sweeping the Aztecs.
While the result is lopsided, the games were action-packed. In all three games, the Rebels needed late-inning rallies to take the lead and victory.
SDSU 2 – UNLV 5
Troy Melton made his big return to open up conference play. The ace of the staff was sidelined with an injury for the first few weeks of the season.
While officially back in action, his pitch count was closely monitored. After two innings and 36 pitches, he was pulled. In his short time, he struck out four and walked one. All positive signs as he builds back up his strength.
T.J Fondtain took the bump after Melton. His role appears to be in limbo since Melton’s return. Mark Martinez took a chance letting Fondtain pitch as the Friday starter, and it paid off greatly. Even after giving up three runs in four innings of work, he owns a 2.95 ERA on the season.
The pitching staff successfully shut down two prominent Rebel sluggers, Diego Alacon and Henry Ziesler. Unfortunately, Ryan Charles and the bottom half of the lineup stepped up.
Charles scored the first Rebel run in the third inning on an Austin Kryszczuk single. Fast forward to the seventh inning, Charles knocked in Joey Walls and Edarian Williams with a single up the middle.
That wouldn’t be the last time Walls scored. In the eighth inning, he homered off of Rickey Tibbett. Walls is a prime example of how stacked the UNLV lineup is. The #5 hitter owns a .444/.512/.722/1.234 slash on the season.
Carrigg has turned into the go-to guy among Aztec position players. He has the flexibility to play anywhere in the field. In the lineup, he is a switch hitter, so he always has the platoon advantage. At the plate, he is able to produce in a variety of ways, whether it’s laying down a sacrifice bunt or swinging away for a key hit. He had two singles and a run this game.
Johnny Giannola might be the answer to the left-field question that the team had all of last year. This season he owns a .257/.381/.429/.810 slash. He flashed some pop in the game with a first-inning triple that scored Carrigg. Then in the sixth inning, he doubled to score Caden Miller. That marked all the offense for SDSU.
Aztecs 3 – UNLV 4
Kelena Sauer is a unique pitcher. He is a rare breed of right-handed pitcher that throws at a low arm slot. He leverages that deceptive arm slot to throw a deadly breaking ball. Deadly in this context works two ways, it’s extremely effective, but Sauer tends to lose control of the pitch. Think Austin Adams in the MLB.
Sauer worked a no-hitter into the fifth inning when Ryan Charles doubled to end the bid. Even if he managed to get Charles out, it was an uphill battle for a no-hitter. Coming into the fifth inning, he had already thrown 75 pitches.
His outing came to an end in the sixth inning after he walked the leadoff batter on four pitches. He then threw three wild pitches, allowing that runner to score. His breaking ball was, as described earlier, deadly. He struck out nine batters but also walked four and hit four.
Carrigg was once again a force for the offense. Not only did he have a double and single, but he was also a threat on the base paths. Pitchers took notice of this, attempting to pick him off multiple times. That was no problem for Carrigg. In the third inning, he perfectly timed the pickoff attempt and stole third base, one of two steals on the day.
Poncho Ruiz followed up that performance by knocking in Carrigg in the first and third innings. Ruiz’s third hit of the day came in the fifth inning when he smacked a double in the left-center gap. He ended up scoring on a balk by Joey Acosta.
The Aztecs had the lead going into the eighth inning. Mark Martinez put in Jadon Bercovich, who has been the best arm out of the bullpen. Martinez also brought in Irvin Weems and Alex Rodriguez to put his best defense behind Bercovich.
The inning started with two quick singles. A throwing error by Kenny Labeau on the second base hit allowed the runners to reach second and third. That set up Austin Kryszczuk for a two-run double. That gave UNLV a 4-3 lead that they would keep for the rest of the game.
Aztecs 8 – UNLV 10
Once again, the Aztecs entered game three looking to avoid a sweep. Instead of relying on their pitching, it was the offense that took charge.
In the fourth inning, Glowacki got things going with a single. Irvin Weems followed that up with a double to score Glowacki. Then Leonhardt crushed a game-tying two-run homer to right field. That was just the fifth Aztec home run this season.
In the fifth inning, the top of the order went to work. Miller led off the inning with a walk. He had a nice bounce-back day after going hitless in the first two games of the series. Carrigg’s hit put both himself and Miller in scoring position. Then at-bats by Poncho Ruiz and Glowacki scored both runners.
At this point, the Aztecs owned a 6-4 lead. In the case of Deja Vu, UNLV ruined that lead with an eighth-inning barrage.
Avery Jones allowed the first two runners to reach before Jonny Guzman relieved him. Eric Bigani welcomed him to the game by launching a three-run home run giving the Rebels the lead late in the game. The bleeding didn’t stop there. Three more runs came across on a walk, error, and two hits. Guzman was only responsible for one earned run in the inning.
The bats tried to respond. Deron Johnson had a pinch-hit double. Kenny Labaeu walked. Then Cole Carrigg doubled to score both of them. Carrigg, on the series, batted 7-for-13 with two double, two steals, two RBIs, and five runs. All while playing centerfield, second base, and catcher.