SDSU Aztecs vs Air Force Falcons: Baseball Preview

Credit: NCAA Logos

Credit: SDSU Athletics

Saturday, March 20 | 11 a.m. PT | Tony Gwynn Stadium

Air Force: John Byrnes, RHP (1-1, 3.50 ERA, 18.0 IP)

SDSU: Michael Paredes, RHP (1-0, 2.16 ERA, 25.0 IP)

 

Saturday, March 20 | 2:30 p.m. PT | Tony Gwynn Stadium

Air Force: Stevan Fairburn Jr., LHP (2-2, 6.11 ERA, 17.2 IP)

SDSU: Troy Melton, RHP (2-1, 3.74 ERA, 21.2 IP)

 

Sunday, March 21 | 1 p.m. PT | Tony Gwynn Stadium

Air Force: Zach Argo, RHP (0-2, 9.00 ERA, 13.0 IP)

SDSU: TBA

 

This weekend, the San Diego State University Aztecs and the Air Force Falcons will square off for the first time all season.

SDSU is 111-30 against Air Force all time. Both SDSU and Jaden Fein sit in the top five for batting average in the entire NCAA.

If SDSU wins this series, it will mark their fifth straight series win.

Three key Air Force players

John Byrnes

Byrnes has been the most effective starter for Air Force this season. In his first season as a full-time starter, he has pitched 18 innings and has a 3.50ERA. The right-hander has already won the MWC pitcher of the week when he helped pull off an upset over #7 ranked LSU. His numbers jump off the page in part for the location of his home ballpark. Falcon Baseball field is approximately 7,000 feet above sea level, nearly 2,000 feet higher than Coors Field for the Rockies.

Braydon Altorfer

The backstop to John Byrnes and the Air force pitching staff is Braydon Altorfer. Like Wyatt Hendrie for the Aztecs, Altorfer happens to be one of the team’s best batters. The pandemic shortened 2020 season was not kind to him. He slashed .193/.313/.263 in 17 games. This season he has turned it around. In 12 games, he is slashing .319/.407/.511 with two home runs.

Paul Skenes

Skenes is the first player to win the Mountain West Player of the week award away from Jaden Fein. He did that by getting five hits, four RBIs, and four runs in games against Wichita State and the University of Arizona. He also pitched out of the pen and threw one inning against Arizona, in which he struck out one and allowed a hit.

Three keys to watch this series

Keep the extra-base hits rolling

Last series, SDSU depended on the extra-base hits more than normal. The lone run in the second game happened when Mike Jarvis hit a double and later scored. In the third game, it was a Cole Carrigg triple and Hendrie home run that kept the Aztecs within striking distance. As a team, they have 31 extra-base hits through 13 games. Carrigg’s triple may have been enough to earn Carrigg the starting third baseman role again. He will keep that role by having more clutch hits.


Will Paredes have repeated success

Last week Paredes had the best pitching performance for SDSU this season. He pitched eight innings, struck out six, and only giving up three hits. He has taken the role as the series-opening starter and ran with it. Since taking over that role, he has only one earned run and two walks in 14 innings pitched. His 2.16 ERA leads all starters on SDSU and is the fourth lowest in the MWC.

Watch Air Force fly on the bases

Air Force is a really aggressive team on the base paths. They lead the Mountain West with 20 stolen bases in 26 attempts. Blake Covin, Christian Gambale, Gabriel Garcia, and Alexander Pup all have recorded three or more steals this season. Look for Hendrie to be busy trying to gun down runners this game.

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Evan Anderson
Evan is a student finishing up a degree in Finance from Northern Arizona University. The ability to break down numbers and find the story behind them has lead to his first of writing for East Village times. He covers baseball which is the sport he grew up playing and has followed even after his playing years.

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