Tony Gywnn, a name etched into the minds of baseball fans across the country. On the field, he was one of the best pure hitters to ever step into the batter’s box. To the city of San Diego, he means so much more.
Gwynn spent 20 years playing for the San Diego Padres. There, he earned 15 All-Star appearances, seven Silver Sluggers, five Gold Gloves, and the nickname “Mr. Padre.” After that, he returned to his alma mater, SDSU, to coach the baseball team.
As the head coach, he helped develop big leaguers such as Ty France, Greg Allen, and Stephen Strasburg. When Strasburg was drafted, he was one of the most exciting pitching prospects of all time. On his coaching staff was Mark Martinez. After Gwynn’s passing, Martinez took over as head coach, where he remains now.
Since Gwynn’s passing, coach Martinez has been one of the top supporters of the Tony Gwynn tournament.
“We celebrate Tony pretty much every day. The one thing we want to do here at San Diego State is celebrate Tony’s legacy. We talk about him a lot. We talk about Tony’s character; we try to match that character within our program. The one thing about our tournament is educating younger people about Tony. All the kids playing this weekend never saw Tony play”
On Saturday, all the teams will wear number 19 to honor his legacy.
SDSU had a rough opening week. They played in a tough MLB4 tournament and lost two of the three games, one of which was a blown save to TCU. In their first week-day game in over a year, Irvine shut them down.
Keys to the weekend
Coach Martinez raved about his pitching staff coming into the season. Even without Troy Melton available and Rickey Tibbett coming out of the bullpen, the starters did a stellar job. Their rotation for the weekend will consist of TJ Fondtain, Kelena Sauer, and Jacob Flores. This combination of starters combined for just four earned runs and nine hits allowed over their 13.2 innings pitched last weekend.
Caden Miller and Alex Rodriguez are quickly looking like something special in the making. Miller is off to a hot start for the year. This season he moved to the leadoff spot. There he has tacked on a hit in every game so far. Rodriguez is following the same path Miller took last season. He won the job as the starting second baseman. He bats in the nine spot in the lineup, but not because of poor offensive production. He serves as a “second” leadoff hitter. That way, when he gets on base, the top of order can hit him in.
Get a win on the day
This may sound obvious and lacking insight, but it’s important. This is the first home game for the Aztecs. This is the first-time tickets are available to the public since early 2020. This is the Tony Gwynn Legacy tournament. The team is playing to highlight San Diego baseball while surrounded by their fans. A great win on day one would erase the three-game losing streak they just endured.
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This weekend’s matchups are as follows:
San Diego State vs. Hawai’i Friday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m. PT
SDSU: TJ Fondtain, LHP (0-0, 2.08 ERA); UH: Cade Halemanu RHP (0-0, 6.75 ERA)
San Diego State vs. Utah Saturday, Feb. 26 6 p.m. PT
Kelena Sauer, RHP (1-0, 1.80 ERA); Utah: Randon Hostert (0-0, 27.00 ERA)
San Diego State vs. Utah Sunday, Feb. 27 2 p.m. PT
Jacob Flores, RHP (0-1, 4.15 ERA); Utah: Cam Day (0-0, 12.00 ERA)
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.