Aztecs Set for Midweek Home Games vs. UCSD, CSUN

SAN DIEGO – San Diego State opens its eight-game homestand this week with a pair of non-conference showdowns against UC San Diego and CSUN at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The Aztecs will play host to the Tritons in the fourth and final installment of the inaugural Trolley Series on Tuesday, May 3, before welcoming the Matadors to “America’s Finest City” the following evening on Wednesday, May 4. Both games are set to begin at 6 p.m. PT, with the SDSU-UCSD contest airing live on XTRA Sports 1360 AM.

The Aztecs are coming off their second straight Mountain West series victory after winning two of three games on the road at Fresno State, April 29-May 1. SDSU bookended a 6-2 setback on Saturday with an 8-4 triumph in Friday’s opener, along with a similar 8-5 conquest in Sunday’s finale.

San Diego State had five players bat over .300 for the weekend series, including Cole Carrigg, Caden Miller and TJ Fondtain, who hit at a .333 clip, followed by Irvin Weems (.308) and Shaun Montoya (.300).

Fondtain led the team with nine total bases and tied Brian Leonhardt for the top spot with four RBIs, highlighted by his first collegiate homer, a three-run shot in the first inning on Friday that gave the Scarlet and Black a 5-0 lead. The Clovis, California, native also tripled and scored in Sunday’s win while adding an RBI double.

In addition, Leonhardt cranked a three-run bomb in the top of the ninth on Friday to provide the Aztecs some added breathing room.

Entering the week, Carrigg occupies the second spot in the Mountain West with 17 stolen bases while ranking fifth in batting average (.368) and 11th in hits (65). The SDSU utility player also tops the squad with multiple hits in 20 games this season and has racked up multiple RBIs in nine outings.

Elsewhere, Weems owns a current team-high streak of reaching base in 17 straight games, followed closely by Ruiz (16), who has hit safely in nine straight games to tie his season high.

Collectively, the Aztecs are perched atop the Mountain West with 68 stolen bases and 93 attempts, which ranks 42nd in the nation, with Weems (12) and Miller (12) tying for third among conference leaders behind Carrigg.

San Diego State has been producing higher offensive totals since April 1, posting a slash line of .281/.375/.403 and 39 stolen bases to help forge a 9-12 record in that span. In contrast, the Aztecs compiled a slash line of .226/.334/.304 with 29 steals in the first 24 games of the season, recording a 5-19 mark during that stretch.

San Diego State has had 20 of 37 players make their initial appearances in a Scarlet and Black uniform this season, including 10 true freshmen.

Including its 4-2 victory over the Aztecs at Triton Ballpark on April 19, UCSD (18-23) has won six of its last seven, completing its first-ever Big West series sweep after shutting out UC Riverside at home on Sunday, 12-0. The Tritons are 12-12 at home this year, 6-9 on the road and 0-2 on a neutral field.

In the last meeting between the two sides in La Jolla, UCSD stranded 17 baserunners but still managed to plate three runs in the bottom of the eighth to overcome a 2-1 deficit and pin a hard-luck loss on the Scarlet and Black. Despite the setback, SDSU still leads the all-time series 24-6 dating back to 1971.

The Aztecs have won 17 of its last 26 games vs. Big West foes and are 37-16 in their last 53 encounters against that conference, including a 4-3 triumph at Long Beach State on April 26.

Infielder Jalen Smith tops the Tritons with a .318 batting average, which ranks 14th in the Big West entering the week, while catcher/outfielder Marc Filia (.303) finds himself among the conference leaders in home runs (T-1st, 10), RBIs (T-2nd, 33) and slugging percentage (T-3rd, .606). In addition, Smith and fellow infielder Michael Fuhrman are tied for 10th with 11 doubles.

Collectively, UCSD leads the Big West with a .381 on-base percentage while ranking second in home runs (43) and slugging percentage (.435) to go with a third-place standing in runs scored (249) and RBIs (230).

On the mound, the Tritons have landed in the fourth spot in the conference with a .267 opposing team batting average; however, UCSD ranks just seventh in strikeouts (334), eighth in ERA (5.24) and ninth in fewest walks allowed (210).

Meanwhile, SDSU has not faced CSUN since the 2019 campaign when it posted an 11-5 victory in Northridge to extend its lead in the all-time series to 47-40.

Among Aztec returners, Brian Leonhardt doubled and scored in the sixth inning of that contest before adding a sacrifice fly in the ninth to account for the final score, while Jacob Flores pitched the seventh in relief, allowing one unearned run on two hits to go with a pair of strikeouts.

SDSU last played CSUN at Tony Gwynn Stadium in 2018 when the Scarlet and Black prevailed by a 3-2 count. In all, the Aztecs have won eight of their last nine encounters with the Matadors.

CSUN owns a 22-18 overall record and a 11-10 mark in Big West competition, occupying the sixth position in the conference standings one-and-a-half games ahead of UCSD and CSU Bakersfield, which are tied for seventh at 9-9. Prior to Wednesday’s clash, the Matadors will travel to USC on Tuesday night. CSUN sports a 9-6 mark at home this year and a 13-12 ledger on the road.

Outfielder Andrew Sojka is the lone Matador player to start all 40 games this season and tops the squad with a .340 batting average, which ranks eighth in the Big West. In addition, Sojka’s 53 hits are tied for third in the conference, while his 12 doubles are tied for sixth along with infielder and fellow teammate Joey Kramer (.282).

Sojka and utility player Kai Moody (.286) also share the second spot in the league with 34 runs scored, while infielder Gabe Gonzalez (.248) is tied atop the Big West with 10 homers and ranks ninth with a .549 slugging percentage.

  

As a team, CSUN finds itself among the top half of the 11-member Big West in several offensive statistics, including home runs (3rd, 38), slugging percentage (3rd, .411), stolen bases (3rd, 39), batting average (5th, .267), on-base percentage (5th, .364) and RBIs (5th, 204).

Despite a 4.48 team ERA, which ranks fourth in the league as of May 2, Matador pitchers occupy the lower half of the Big West in opposing batting average (7th, .275) and strikeouts (9th, 278).

Aztec assistant coach Sergio Brown served in a similar capacity with the Matador program during the 2013 campaign. He also assisted current CSUN head coach Dave Serrano, when the latter guided UC Irvine (2007) and Cal State Fullerton (2009) to College World Series appearances.

Following Wednesday’s action, San Diego State will play host to Air Force in a three-game Mountain West series, May 6-8, at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

 

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