Top SDSU baseball storylines for the second half of season

SDSU

Credit: Go Aztecs

Credit: Go Aztecs

San Diego State sits in first place at the halfway point of the conference season.

The Mountain West plays a true round-robin schedule with each team hosting and visiting every other team in the league. SDSU hosted Fresno State to open conference place in March. The Bulldogs host the Aztecs this weekend to begin the second half of the schedule. The team that finishes first in the regular season will earn the automatic bid to the postseason. 

What are the top storylines for the Aztecs as they head into the second half of the Mountain West season?

To answer that question, the East Village Times gathered the media members who have spent more time inside Tony Gwynn Stadium covering the 2021 Aztecs than anyone. Participants for this Aztec roundtable include SDSU baseball beat writers for the Daily Aztec Reese Savoie and Jenna Meyer, as well as EVT SDSU baseball beat writer Evan Anderson and EVT contributor Paul Garrison.

Each gives their top storyline below.

 

AN EXPLOSIVE OFFENSE – Reese Savoie

San Diego State Baseball has been no stranger to run production this season. 

Heading into last weekend’s series, SDSU led the country with a .335 batting average and have consistently found themselves atop stats sheets throughout the duration of this season so far. 

11 of their 25 games played so far have yielded double digits on the Aztecs’ half of the scoreboard, and the team currently sits at number three in the nation with an average of 9.1 runs per game. 

The Scarlet and Black brought in 24 runs alone in last weekend’s series against the Nevada Wolf Pack. 

In addition, the 2021 campaign has seen two games end early as per a mercy-run rule, with the Aztecs shutting out Fresno State and New Mexico 17-0 and 15-0, respectively.

 

Melton’s dugout observations translated to performance on the mound – Jenna Meyer

Following the redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher’s twelfth career start, Troy Melton has brought power to the mound for what could be considered just his sophomore season. 

Melton began the season as the starting pitcher for the first game of Saturday doubleheaders. 

He swiftly fell into place as the Game 2 starter following RHP Michael Paredes. In the slate as the traditional Game 2 starter, Melton is able to play off of the energy set by Paredes in Game 1. 

Credit: SDSU Athletics

A distinction that separates Melton from others in the bullpen is his ability to observe the opponent in game 1 and being able to put his observations into practice in Game 2. 

“It bodes well for Troy to sit there and process what he sees in front of him and kind of plan out what his outing is going to look like and how to attack each guy, and I think it’s benefitted him as well for sure,”  Martinez shared. 

Melton has utilized this skill as well as his own energy to complete many explosive outings on the mound. 

“I think definitely Troy’s unique to that, and he’s very intelligent, he kind of understands those things, and I think he’s also just learning how good he really is.”

 

The pitching staff has found the strike zone – Evan Anderson

For a team with so much pop in the lineup, the pitchers typically get a nice cushion to work with. Many of the losses came from a lack of throwing strikes.

In the first two losses, SDSU pitchers walked 17 total batters. Going into the series against SJSU, they were averaging 5.69 walks per game. That led the Mountain West in walks and walks per game. 

Since the SJSU series, the Aztec pitching staff has managed to cut that number in half to 2.88 walks per game. So the question has to be asked, “What changes were made?”.

Credit: Go Aztecs

“I credit coach Peraza. What we did is we rebooted; we started over. We wiped everything clean. We took all the stats away,” coach Martinez said about his pitching staff. “Our guys have started to pitch to contact. We are getting weak contact for the most part. That has been the change and the mindset”. 

 

Can SDSU be road warriors?   Paul Garrison

The Aztecs’ hold on the top spot in the Mountain West Standings is tenuous. They are tied with UNLV in the loss column but have three more wins than the Rebels. The second half of SDSU’s schedule is far more challenging than the first half because the Aztecs have only played one road series in the conference, meaning they will only have one home series left in the conference for the remainder of the season. 

Just as it is in basketball, playing on the road in the Mountain West difficult, and as with any sport, teams are simply better when they play at home. The team picked to finish second in the conference. Fresno State is a good case study.


The Bulldogs are 6-9 in conference play and are  9-15 overall, but they are a different team at home. They own a 7-4 record in Fresno. When the Aztecs visit the central valley this weekend, they will play a team more dangerous than its record suggests.

Did the Aztecs build enough of a cushion in the first half to navigate playing so many games on the road the second half of the season?

Team

Home Record Road Record

Conference Record

SDSU

13-6 4-2

12-6

UNLV

12-2 2-5 9-6

Air Force

3-0 6-10

7-8

Nevada

3-3 7-10

7-8

Fresno State 7-4 2-11

6-9

New Mexico

5-1 2-10

6-9

San Jose State

2-2 1-3

1-2

 

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Paul Garrison
My earliest sport's memory involve tailgating at the Murph, running down the circular exit ramps, and seeing the Padres, Chargers and Aztecs play. As a second generation Aztec, I am passionate about all things SDSU. Other interests include raising my four children, being a great husband and teaching high school.

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