No. 2 SDSU on its way to MW Championship title game
RENO, Nev. – San Diego State (38-21) earned a chance to win its third consecutive Mountain West Baseball Championship title after defeating Fresno State (31-28) 7-6 in 10 innings Saturday evening at Peccole Park. The No. 2-seededd Aztecs face No. 4 New Mexico tonight at 7:40 p.m. PT in the championship contest. SDSU must beat the Lobos in order to force a winner take all if necessary game on Sunday.
Danny Sheehan led the Aztec offense, going 2-for-5 with two RBIs, two runs scored and one home run. Seby Zavala had a home run of his own as he went 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Justin Wylie had the most hits of any SDSU player in the afternoon with three singles.
“We find ways to do it the hard way,” said Aztecs head coach Mark Martinez. “It’s hard to manage that way. It also gives you opportunity because they believe they’re going to win.”
Fresno State came out swinging as Taylor Tempel got a bunt single to start things off. He moved over to second via a ground out, and then to third when Taylor Ward reached first on an error. Kevin Viers then flied out to left field, allowing Tempel to tag up and cross the plate, 1-0.
San Diego State took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first with a two-run home run from Zavala over the fence in center field. The junior’s 13th home run of the season was also his fourth of the MW Championships.
The Bulldogs tied it up 2-2 in the top of the third. Tempel doubled to left field, and was moved over to third when Austin Guibor singled with a bunt up the first base line. The run came in when Ward flied out to center field and Tempel tagged up to score.
In the top of the fifth, two singles to left field and a full-count walk loaded the bases for Fresno State. Manny Argomaniz then grounded into a double play, but Guibor was able to score from third and the Bulldogs took the lead. Kenny Corey, who entered the game as a designated hitter, brought home Ward with an RBI single to bring the score to 4-2 Fresno State.
SDSU answered in the bottom of the fifth as Justin Wylie led things off with a single. He was moved over to second on a groundout. Steven Pallares got his first hit of the game two batters later to bring the Aztecs within one. Sheehan tied it up at four the very next at-bat, singling through the left side and bringing Pallares home from second.
In the top of the sixth, Dobson, after working his way to second, was brought home by a single from Ward, putting the Bulldogs up 5-4.
Two throwing errors on the Aztecs started off the seventh inning, putting runners on first and second with no outs for the Bulldogs. Fresno State, however, failed to score in the inning.
The game was tied up yet again when Sheehan knocked a ball out of the park in the bottom of the seventh to level the score at five.
Back-to-back singles with one out put runners on the corners for SDSU in the bottom of the eighth. Wylie broke the tie with a single to right field, giving the Aztecs the lead.
With one more frame to stay alive, Fresno State’s Argomaniz singled to lead off the frame. After pinch runner McCarthy Tatum advanced to second, Nick Warren knocked a ground ball up the middle to bring Tatum home and tie the game up at six.
The Aztecs were unable to bring anyone home in the bottom of the ninth, and the fans at Peccole Park were treated to some extra baseball.
After a three up, three down top of the 10th for Fresno State, the Aztecs put men on first and second with no outs. Brown worked a walk, while Wylie reached first on a fielder’s choice. The throw from the pitcher went high, and Brown reached second on the throwing error. Both runners advanced on a ground ball, which put one out on the board. Chase Calabuig proved to be the hero of the game, sending a ground ball to the left side. Brody Russell, the center fielder brought in as a fifth Bulldog infielder, snagged the ball and threw toward home. The throw went wide and Brown was called safe at home to send the Aztecs to the title game.
“I was kinda nervous,” Calabuig said. “I just knew that I had to do it for the team because I knew how bad they wanted it.”
Fresno State saw 17 batters come to the plate in the loss. Ward went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Tempel scored two runs in his 2-for-6 afternoon.
You can follow all the MW Championship action at TheMW.com.