SDSU vs. ASU: Aztecs Baseball Series Recap

Credit: Vanilla Gorilla Photography/ EVT Sports

Credit: Cali Camera/ EVT Sports

Playing eight games in 10 days is no easy task.

The San Diego State Aztecs baseball team ended that stretch going 3-5 after a win on Sunday. They beat Hawai’i, Utah, and took the final game of the ASU series to earn their three wins. The Aztecs were unable to win any of their series. This is one of the big challenges for a team built with mostly freshmen and sophomores.

This weekend saw highlight performances by Cole Carrigg, Caden Miller, and Jonny Guzman as they battled the ASU Sun Devils.

Game 1

SDSU 5 – ASU 13

TJ Fondtain toed the mound for the Aztecs. He is in the midst of an early breakout season while becoming the ace of the staff. Pitching for the first time in his career, he held his first two opponents to a combined one earned run through 10.1 innings. This matchup against ASU would be his biggest test and an opportunity to show the first two starts were not a fluke. 

In this outing, he pitched four innings, allowing six hits, three walks, two earned runs, and struck out one batter. This was a step back from his dominant high-strikeout, low-WHIP performances from his first two starts. But it still shows that he can make it as a college pitcher. 

Credit: Nicole Noel/ EVT Sports

As usual, Rickey Tibbett took over after Fondtain. He pitched 2 2/3 innings while allowing two earned runs. When Robert Brodell relieved him in the 7th inning, the game took a turn for the worse.

To start the top of the 8th inning, Ivan Brethowr launched a home run. Later in the inning, an error by Brodell led to another run. 

The 9th inning started with a fielding error by Kenny Labeau. Two batters later, Brethowr came up to bat. Fearing another home run, they gave him a free pass. With bases now loaded, Brodell hit the next batter. After allowing two more singles that brought in two more runs, his night was over. Hunter Hargett immediately gave up a three-run homer to Conner Davis, one of the ASU players highlighted in the preview. That left the Aztecs in a 13-1 deficit.

On offense, Cole Carrigg had his best game of the season. In the 6th inning, he singled and scored the first Aztec run.

In the 9th inning, SDSU mounted a comeback attempt. They scored two runs before Carrigg came up with the bases loaded. He singled down the left-field line to score two more runs. He finished the game 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run.

Game 2

SDSU 4 – ASU 6

 

The second key to the series; find some pop. Two unlikely candidates found their way to do so, Caden Miller and Trevor Hazelhurst. 

Miller has been one of the Aztecs’ best hitters this season. The only problem is he has never had much power. The first step toward changing happened in the 5th inning when he hit a three-run homer. That was the first of his career home run, and his 10th career extra-base hit. 

Credit: Cali Camera/ EVT Sports

In the 9th inning, Trevor Hazelhurst made a pinch-hit appearance for Tino Bethancourt. Like Miller, Hazelhurst launched his first career home run. The redshirt sophomore has been competing for playing time. He has made two starts, one in left field and one as the designated hitter, and made appearances in five other games. 

Kelena Sauer took the bump at Tony Gwynn Stadium for SDSU. He worked 6 1/3 innings while allowing four earned runs, ten hits, two walks, and struck out four. This outing upped his ERA to 4.41 on the season. 

While this wasn’t a great outing on paper, there was one key takeaway for Sauer. He threw 102 pitches in the game. Last season he appeared exclusively out of the bullpen. This season he moved to the rotation, but there were concerns about how quickly he could be lengthened out. This outing cast that notion aside. 


Game 3

SDSU 4 – ASU 3

Looking to avoid the sweep, SDSU mixed things up a bit. Blake Butcher made his second career start at third base. Kenny Labeau continues to cement himself as a starter with his fifth consecutive start, appearing at second base. Cole Carrigg and Brian Leonhardt were given the day off. 

In the first inning, SDSU took advantage of some early errors by ASU. Right away, Miller reached on a fielding error by shortstop Sean Mclain. Miller then stole second and advanced to third on a wild throw by the catcher. Poncho Ruiz followed that up with a double, his third of the year. Johnny Giannola was able to knock him in with a single up the middle. Like Miller, Giannola stole second base. A few pitches later, he would score when a wild pitch advanced him to third, and a wild throw to third base allowed him to score.

This bizarre inning was about to get even crazier. Hazelhurst and Irvin Weems both walked to put two runners on with two out. During the Labeau at bat, he was taking his time getting back into the batter’s box. The umpires took notice and told him to speed it up. With the count 3-2, Labeau once again took too long to get into the batter’s box. This prompted second base umpire, Mike Jarboe, to call an automatic strike. That ended the at-bat and the inning.

Credit: Vanilla Gorilla Photography/ EVT Sports

According to Rule 7, Section 4, Line G, “a strike may be awarded after the batter fails to take a position in the batter’s box immediately after ordered by the umpire and the 20-second limit expires”. Given the gravity of the situation, coach Mark Martinez had a lengthy conversation with the umpires about this ruling. In the end, the call stood with Labeau striking out without seeing the final pitch.

SDSU left the 1st inning leading 3-1. ASU didn’t plan on staying quiet. Kai Murphy lined a triple off of Jacob Flores in the 2nd inning and he would later score. Then in the 5th inning, Joe Lampe lined a ball over the right-field wall, and just like that, it was back to a 3-3 game.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Aztecs took the lead for the final time. Lebeau doubled and advanced to third base on a sac bunt. Miller walked, which set up Tyler Glowacki with runners on the corners. He singled to center field, scoring Labeau. SDSU managed to load the bases for Hazelhurst, but nothing came from that.

Jonny Guzman was called upon to relieve Flores after six innings of work and 117 pitches thrown. Guzman had his best outing of the season. He threw three dominant innings to earn him a save. In the course of those innings, six Sun Devils struck out, and only one reached base. 

The Aztecs were able to avoid the sweep and end a long stretch of games on a high note.

They next play on Friday when conference play starts up against UNLV.

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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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