Aztecs To Host St. Mary's For Three-Game Series
March 8, 2012
SDSU begins this week with a short trip north to take on Long Beach State on Tuesday, March 6, at 6:30 p.m. (PT) at Blair field. The Aztecs will then return home to host St. Mary's for a three-game series that gets underway on Friday, March 9, at 6:00 p.m. (PT) at Tony Gwynn Stadium. The Aztecs and Gaels will also met for games on Saturday (March 10) and Sunday (March 11) at 6:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. respectively.
SDSU's all-time record vs. St. Mary's stands at 3-4. The team as have not met since the 1984 season when the Aztecs recorded a pair of wins over the Gales at the Desert Classic in Las Vegas. SDSU is 1-2 vs. St. Mary's at home, 0-2 at Moraga, and 2-0 at neutral sites
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Freshman second baseman Matt Muñoz was named the Mountain West Player of the Week on Monday for his performance during last weekend's Aztec Invitational. Muñoz batted .538 during the Aztec's four wins in the tournament as he hit safely in each contest. His hits included a double and triple. He also scored six runs and had two runs batted in.
Three Aztecs were named to the all-tourney team at the conclusion of last weekend's Aztec Invitational presented by Sheraton Mission Valley. That trio included second baseman Matt Muñoz, center fielder Cody Smith and designated hitter Spencer Thornton. Muñoz, who was selected the tournament MVP, hit .538 (7-for-13) with a double, triple, two walks and six runs scored. Smith batted .429 (6-for-14) with a double and three runs scored. Thornton hit .500 (4-for-8) with three walks, five runs scored and a pair of RBI.
ALLEN FOR THE DEFENSE
Freshman outfielder Greg Allen has already recorded five assists this season. In right field he has thrown a runner out at the plate and completed a pair of double plays on line drive outs by throwing to first base. In left field, he has thrown a runner out at the plate directly and also had a rely that led to a runner being cut down at home. Allen is 7-for-17 (.412) in his last five games and has scored in four of those five contests.
After committing 11 errors in the first five games of the season, the SDSU defense has settled down and had only six in its last nine contests. The team fielding percentage after those first five games stood at .939. In the nine games since, the Aztecs' have a .982 percentage. SDSU's current .968 fielding percentage rank second in the Mountain West this week.
Center fielder Cody Smith and infielder Steven Pallares enter the weekend riding 10-game and nine-game hitting streaks respectively. During his streak, Smith has recorded four doubles and a triple while scoring seven times. Over his last nine contests, Pallares is hitting .360 (9-for-25) with six runs scored.
THORNTON SOLID AT THE PLATE
Freshman outfielder Spencer Thornton has been stellar as SSDU's designated hitter this season. In the 12 games in which he has appeared (six starts), he is hitting .500 (9-for-18) with a double, triple, nine runs scored and six RBI. He has reached base safely (hit, walk or hit by pitch) in his last seven contests. He is 5-for-5 as a pinch hitter, Thornton is 4-for-5 with runners in scoring position and 4-for-5 when hitting with two out.
HEPNER HAS STELLAR WEEK
Sophomore right-hander Justine Hepner has recorded his first save and win as an Aztec over the past week. In the win over San Francisco last Saturday (March 3), he went the final three innings, along no runs on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts for the save. On Tuesday at Long Beach State, he came on to pitch with the score tied at 1-1, going the final two innings in a contest won by SSU in the final frame, to record his first collegiate win.
INJURIES & ILLNESS
Injuries and illness have taken a toll on SDSU in the past two weeks. Starting catcher Brad Haynal suffered a broken leg last week and will miss the remainder of the season. Starting pitcher Cole Swanson underwent an emergency appendectomy this past Monday and is expected to be out for the next month. Second baseman Matt Muñoz was suffering from a stomach virus earlier this week and missed Tuesday's trip to Long Beach State. He is expected to be ready to play this weekend. Right fielder Greg Allen came down ill with a stomach virus on the bus trip to Long Beach and was taken to the doctor upon arriving in Long beach. He returned just prior to the state of the contest and came on as a pinch hitter and center fielder late in the game. Allen had a walk and single against the 49ers and scored SDSU's third run in the ninth inning.
In six of its eight victories this season, San Diego State has won in its last at bat. The latest came at Long Beach State this past Tuesday when the Aztecs scored twice in the top of the ninth in the 3-1 victory over the 49ers. SDSU has won twice in the bottom of the ninth and has scored the winnings runs in the bottom of the eighth on three occasions. In the victories over Washington (Feb.19) and Cal Poly (March 1), the Aztecs won the game in the bottom of the ninth The wins over Pacific (Feb. 25), Milwaukee March 2) and Cal State Northridge (March 4) saw SDSU score the winning runs in the bottom of the eighth.
HITTING IN A PINCH
Aztec pinch hitters are batting .432 (16-for-37). That group is led by Spencer Thornton, who is 5-for-5 in a pinch-hitting role while Jomel Torres is 4-for-6. Five pinch hitters have at least two hits apiece, a group that includes Andre Bollar (2-for-3), Matt Munoz (2-for-4) and Cody Slader (2-for-6). Opposing pinch hitters have gone 2-for-13 (.154).
The Aztecs' current five-game win strews is its longest since May 201 when it had a five-game streak. The last time SDSU had a longer streak was during the 2009 campaign when it won six in a row on two occasions ... San Diego State is hitting .366 (37-for-101) over its last three games with 21 runs scored ... SDSU's team batting average of .295 leads the Mountain West this week ... Cody Smith's 17 hits is the most in the conference ... Justin Hepner recorded his first career save as an Aztec in the win over San Francisco last Saturday (March 3). He allowed no runs on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts in three innings of relief against the Dons ... Junior Ethan Miller picked up his second career save in last Sunday's win over Cal State Northridge. His first career save came when he tossed the final inning in SDSU's 5-4 win over Pacific on Feb. 25 ... Freshman catcher Seby Zavala recorded his first collegiate hit with a single against Milwaukee last Friday (March 2). He added two more hits in Sunday's (March 4) win over Cal State Northridge.