Aztecs drop baseball season opener 5-4 to Portland

Credit: P.J. Panebianco/ EVT Sports

The short URL of the present article is:
Spread the love
Credit: P.J. Panebianco/ EVT Sports

The SDSU Aztecs head into the 2024 season with twenty-one new players on the roster, nineteen of whom are true freshmen.

Four of those freshmen are starters. Hometown hero Jake Jackson in left field, Colby Turner at third base, Josh Quezada as a DH and Finley Bates at second base.

Credit: P.J. Panebianco/ EVT Sports

The Red and Black come into this home opener with former pitching coach Shaun Cole in his first year as manager. With a strong group of pitchers and a young team to develop, Cole has a great chance to build a bright future for SDSU baseball.

Pitching is the bright spot of this young Aztec team. Chris Canada, the 6-foot-7 220 lb junior, leads the way, followed by Omar Serrano and Xavier Cardenas III. The young roster boasts loads of talent that will only get better as they see more playing time this season.

In 2023, the Aztecs finished the season as champions of the Mountain West division with San Jose State with an overall record of 24-29. SDSU had a 16-11 record at home vs. an 8-17 record away.

Friday’s game started out as a stalemate. Both pitchers came out hot. Canada faced six batters in the first two innings. He struck out four. His only baserunner reached on a walk to open the game but was erased on a double play.

Portland starter Nick Brink began by giving up a hit in the first to RF Shaun Montoya. A failed pickoff attempt allowed Montonya to advance to third. The Aztecs could not capitalize on that error, however. Montoya was left stranded on third after Brink struck out the next two batters and got 1B Brady Lavoie to ground out meekly to third.

I'd like this amount to  

Portland had similar success in the second. ColbyTurner led off the inning with a bomb to center field that died on the warning track. Brink followed that with back-to-back strikeouts of Xavier Gonzalez and Josh Quezada.

The third inning is where things started looking rough for the Red and Black. Canada appeared a little off as he started the inning by hitting Christian Cooney. Spencer Scott came to the plate next and was struck out. Two hitters later, Conney advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Credit: P.J. Panebianco/ EVT Sports

Despite the rocky start, freshman 2B Finley Bates made a great play, tracking a fly ball to right field to record an out and hold Cooney at second. Canada then walked Jake Holcroft, giving Portland men on first and second. The six-foot-seven lefty escaped the inning by getting his sixth strikeout.

Evan Sipe started the third inning for SDSU with a single through the right side. Bates grounded out at the next at-bat. Montoya came to the plate for the second time on the day and struck out. The Aztecs couldn’t capitalize on another great start and ended another inning scoreless.

In the top of the fourth, Canada struck out Ben Patacsil but was pulled after back-to-back walks. Cole relieved Canada with two men on base. Both would eventually score without Portland recording a hit. He ended the day with 3.1 innings pitched, 14 batters faced, and 7 strikeouts.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff transfer Jacob Riordan came to the mound. He had his own control issues and allowed the pair of inherited runners to score. Riordan was able to finally escape the inning on a strikeout to Jake Holcroft.

Brink survived the fourth despite a triple hit by freshman Colby Turner on his third at-bat of the night.

The fifth inning was hard fought as both teams almost had identical at-bats. Riordan came back strong with two strikeouts and a flyout. Brink had one strikeout, a flyout, and a pop-up.

Portland was able to get a runner on base in the sixth, but after another pitching change for Issac Araiza, the Aztecs were able to get out of the inning unscathed.

Despite holding Portland to zero the Aztecs offense stalled as Brink pitched another scorless inning with two strikeouts and Weems grounded out to third.

Things picked up for Portland in the seventh. After a Brady Bean single and a Patacsil walk, Portland was able to on a couple Aztec errors and score two more runs to go up 4-0

The Aztecs offense was finally able to get on the scoreboard after a Xavier Gonzalez double was followed up by an RBI double by Sipe. The inning ended after Montoya hit a fly out to left field.

Credit: P.J. Panebianco/ EVT Sports

SDSU had a terrific eighth inning. Brady Lovoie hit a two-run double to center field that brought the Aztecs within one point. That one-run lead didn’t last long as Gonzalez hit a single to left field that brought home Lovoie to even the score at four.

Despite the late game push by SDSU to tie it up they fell short. Jonny Guzman came to the mound to finish the game but gave up what ended up being the game-winning run as Scott hit an RBI single to center field to go up 5-4.

The Aztecs have a promising group going forward this season. The young roster will have its growing pains but can only get better as they get more experience as a unit.

Early in the game the Aztecs left runners stranded in scoring position. Cole emphasized this point in his post game press conference when asked about the late game push stating, “At the beginning of the game we had an opportunity to score a run early that would’ve given us momentum at home.” That momentum would’ve helped this young group of players who were playing their first college game.

With such a young roster, Cole has some great players to develop. When asked about how the young players can build off this game, he made sure to point out that despite the loss, “The beauty of this game is teaching….it’s how you bounce back and make those adjustments.”

Hometown hero Jake Jackson scored in his first-ever college game for SDSU. He is one of the top freshmen for this team and will only get better with more games played.

He made sure to point out, “It’s going to be a long season, and you’re going to be nervous.” His biggest take away was “just slow things down and keep working.” The confidence he showed as a young player is promising going forward, and he should develop into a great player for this team.

The Aztecs hope to bounce back against Portland in game two of the three-game series on Saturday, February 17th, at 6:00 PM at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Oregon State transfer Sam Stuhr is projected to take the mound for the Portland. Omar Serrano will be on the mound for the Aztecs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *