Aztecs Win Back-to-Back MW Tournament Championships
LAS VEGAS – The San Diego State Aztecs were crowned the 2014 Mountain West Conference Champions on Sunday afternoon after defeating the top-seeded UNLV Rebels 4-3 from Earl E. Wilson Stadium.
With the game tied at 3-3 in the top of the sixth, the Aztecs loaded the bases with one out. SDSU senior shortstop Evan Potter came through with an sac fly to center field that was just deep enough to bring home outfielder Seby Zavala for what proved to be the game-winning run.
SDSU moves to 42-19 for the season and have gained an automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA tournament to begin next week.
SDSU assistant coach Mark Martinez gave all the credit to his players while stating the championship was all for head coach Tony Gwynn who was back in San Diego watching while on a medical leave of absence.
“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy and our hats off to the Rebels, that’s an unbelievable program. This is an unbelievable group of guys that has made our job as coaches easy, we’ll be bringing this back to Coach Gwynn,” Martinez said.
Sophomore third baseman Ty France went 3-for-5 with an RBI to lead the Aztecs offensively, while junior catcher Brad Haynal finished 1-for-3 on the day and 14-for-22 in the tournament to lead all batters for the week. Haynal also scored the most runs in the tournament with nine to help him to earn the 2014 tournament most valuable player honors.
“I was just trying to give myself good counts,” Haynal said. “This is sweet because we went back-to-back. Not one guy can do it alone, but I try to pick my team up whenever I can. It was a collective effort and I love my team.”
Sophomore Bubba Derby came back on a few days rest to start for his team with the championship on the line. Derby threw 4.1 innings while giving up three earned runs on three Rebel hits before giving way to TJ Kendzora, who earned the win (5-1), and Cody Thompson in middle relief. Junior closer Michael Cederoth finished the game to earn his 20st save of the year. Cederoth’s save puts him atop the record books for both SDSU and the MW for saves in a season.
Starting for UNLV was junior right-hander Joey Lauria who gave his team a productive effort after striking out five in 5.1 innings before being charged with the loss after surrendering four earned runs on eight Aztec hits.
The Aztecs made more history on Sunday when senior second baseman Tim Zier added to a school-record in the top of the seventh inning when he picked up career hit No. 300.
“There’s no better feeling than a dog pile and boy do I love them,” Zier said after celebrating with his team after the final out.
“The main difference this year was we came into it knowing we were the best team. It means the world to our team and tonight we are going to be bringing the trophy to Coach Gwynn – it’s all for him,” Zier said.
2014 Mountain West All-Tournament Team
MVP: Brad Haynal, Jr., C, San Diego State
Trenton Brooks, Fr., OF/P, Nevada
Scott Kaplan, Sr., 2B, Nevada
Greg Allen, Jr., OF, San Diego State
Evan Potter, Sr., SS, San Diego State
Brett Seeburger, Fr., P, San Diego State
Kyle Gallegos, Sr., C, San José State
John Richy, Jr., P, UNLV
T.J. White, Jr., 3B, UNLV
Designated Hitter: Steven Pallares, Jr., San Diego State
Relief Pitcher: Brayden Torres, So., UNLV