Baseball Opens 2012 Campaign Friday Night

Feb. 16, 2012

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San Diego State opens its 2011 campaign with three home contests against the University of Washington. The season opener is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 17, when the Huskies visits Tony Gwynn Stadium for a 6:00 p.m. contest. UW will return to SDSU's home field for contests on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 20, at 1:00 p.m. This marks only the sixth time in the past 14 seasons that SDSU has opened at home.

Prior to Friday night's season opener vs. Washington, the Aztecs will retire the number-37 jersey worn by Stephen Strasburg during his playing days at San Diego State. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive an 8.5x5.5 Strasburg card commemorating the occasion. The ceremony will also include a check presentation from the former Aztec All-American to the baseball program with the proceeds from the recent Strasburg 5K. Strasburg will also throw out the first pitch prior to the game.

San Diego State holds a 7-4 advantage in its series against the University of Washington that began during the 1965 season. The teams last met in 2003 at Clash of the Conference tournament in Lancaster, Calif., in a contest won by the Huskies, 8-5. UW has been victorious in the last two games between the teams.

Washington returns six position starters and two starting pitchers from a team that finished 17-37 overall and 6-21 in the Pac-10 a year ago. Top offensive returnees include outfielder Joe Meggs (.317, 17 RBI), third baseman Jacob Lamb (.311, 3 HR, 26 RBI) and catcher B.K. Santy (.288, 18 RBI). On the mound, the Huskies will start right-hander Aaron West (1-8, 5.18) on Friday and right-handers George Asmus (4-1, 1.96 at Ohlone JC in 2011)) and Austin Voth (2-5, 5.19) on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

San Diego State has a record of 47-25-1 in season openers since 1936. Since attaining Division I status in 1969, the Aztecs are 26-15 in their annual debuts. SDSU has won only four of its last 14 season debuts. The Aztecs, however, have won three of their last five season openers including victories over Cal Poly (2007), University of San Diego (2008) and Bethune-Cookman (2009). When opening the season in San Diego, SDSU has an all-time record of 28-11-1 and the Aztecs are 13-9 as a Division I school when beginning the year at home.

SDSU's pitching rotation for the opening weekend includes Cole Swanson on Friday along with Travis Pitcher and TJ Kendzora on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Swanson was a 2011 Freshman All-American and a 2012 preseason all-Mountain West selection. Last year he finished with a record of 4-23 with a 3.23 earned run average. Pitcher is a transfer from Cypress Junior college where he compiled a mark of 1-5 with a 5.45 ERA. Kendzora went 3-2 with a 5.40 earned run average as a freshman last year when he made four starts and 10 relief appearances.

San Diego State's strength of schedule has been ranked 43rd in the nation by Boyd's World and its non-conference schedule is No. 9 of 298 Division I teams. Among the teams on the 2011 slate are four ranked among the top 25 in the preseason polls. That group includes #4 Texas A&M, #10 TCU, #21 Cal State Fullerton and #23 Orgon State.. Also on the schedule are three other teams that advanced to the NCAA regional tournaments last season: San Francisco, New Mexico and Kansas State The slate features two teams that the Aztecs will be facing for the first time: Texas A&M and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Among the returning starters are Freshman All-America center fielder Cody Smith (.320, 12 2B, 30 RBI) and second baseman Tim Zier (.306, 7 2B, 21 RBI). Other returning starters include catcher Brad Haynal (.242, 3 HR, 16 RBI), shortstop Evan Potter (.202, 4 2B, 2 RBI) and utility man Chris Wilson (.259, 5 HR, 33 RBI). First baseman Jomel Torres (.291, 15 2B, 36 RBI) is back for his senior year as well.

The Aztecs return eight pitchers from last season's staff with eight hurlers departed. Among the returnees are SDSU's No. 1 and No. 3 starters in sophomores Cole Swanson (402, 3.23) and TJ Kendzora (3-2, 5.40). Starter Ethan Miller (4-5, 5.8) is also back along with lefty reliever Mitch Bluman (0-1, 3.18 Junior Brian Crabb is expected to begin the season in the closer role after recording three saves a year ago. Each of the other five (Justin Hepner, Mike Hachadorian, Philip Walby) had at least one start, but were mainly relievers.

Sophomore second baseman Tim Zier enters the 2012 campaign with a 14-game hitting streak. He ended the 2011 season by hitting in 14 straight contests, hitting .414 (24-for-58) with 11 runs scored over that span. Zier has also reached base safely (hit, walk or hit by pitch) in 16 consecutive contests entering this season Center fielder Cody Smith carries a six-game hitting streak into the 2012 season.

Sophomores Cody Smith and Cole Swanson have been tabbed to the Preseason all-Mountain West team in a vote of the league's coaches. Both were named Louisville Slugger Freshman all-Americans in 2011. Smith is the team's leading returning hitter (.320, 12 2B, 2 HR, 30 RBI) while Swanson is expected to be the Aztecs' No. 1 starter on the mound to begin the 2012 campaign.

Two of SDSU new players who played locally were drafted by Major League clubs in June 2010. That duo includes freshman pitcher Michael Cederoth of Steele Canyon HS in San Diego and Westview HS (42nd rd., Arizona Diamondbacks) and junior pitcher Travis Pitcher from Cypress JC (50th rd., Oakland Athletics).

San Diego State has been picked to finish fourth in the regular-season Mountain West Conference baseball standings. In a vote of the five MWC head coaches and a select media panel, the Aztecs received 75 points to finish behind favorite TCU, which is favored to win the league title for the fifth consecutive season, and Brigham Young. 2010 MWC Preseason Poll:

Rk. Team (1st place votes)	Pts
1.  TCU (5).................25
2.  UNLV....................16
3.  New Mexico..............15
4.  San Diego State.........12
5.  Air Force................7