With the San Diego State baseball team trailing by one run in the bottom of the ninth inning, freshman outfielder Cody Smith stepped up to the plate.
There were runners on first and second with two outs, and this one at-bat could decide the ball game.
Smith didn’t disappoint. He connected on an RBI double to tie it up.
But SDSU couldn’t score again and gave up four runs in the 10th to give No. 26 UC Irvine a 7-3 victory on Tuesday night at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
“It would have been nice to cash it in,” head coach Tony Gwynn said. “But in those situations, that’s where you got to have quality at-bats. That’s where you got to have guys up there making that pitcher work a little bit. And our guys are going to learn that, they’re going to figure that out.”
The Aztecs had no problem with their offense to start the game, scoring a run in the early going. Junior outfielder Brandon Meredith’s RBI double in the bottom of the first scored junior first baseman / outfielder Jomel Torres to give SDSU a 1-0 lead.
“I like scoring runs as early as possible,” Gwynn said. “Because it gives your guy something to work with, but you kind of figured one wasn’t going to be enough.”
The Anteaters proved that statement was true by putting a run on the board in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take a 3-1 lead. Only two of those runs were credited to Aztec starter Steven Moranda, who allowed five hits, two walks and four strikeouts in five innings.
“I thought he threw extremely well,” Gwynn said of Moranda. “He got a rhythm going, he was throwing a lot of strikes and working ahead in the count. That’s what you want (and) I think he’s going to be our Tuesday night guy still.”
Another player who had a solid performance against UCI was freshman outfielder Dillon Bryant. With SDSU trailing by two runs with one out in the bottom of the fifth, Bryant came through with a double that resulted in the Aztecs cutting the lead to 3-2 after an RBI single by Smith.
“I’ve faced him a lot throughout my life, I’ve seen him before,” Bryant said of former high school teammate and current Anteater pitcher Andrew Thurman. “I’ve seen what he’s got (and) I grew up with him. I see the ball out of his hand pretty well, I guess. I thought I swung the bat pretty well, except for that last inning (where) I froze up a little bit. But that happens, we gotta fix that and make sure things get better next time.”
Bryant spoke of his at-bat in the ninth inning when he struck out looking with one out and runners on first and second. SDSU ended up getting the tying run on the next at-bat (Smith’s RBI double), but a different outcome from Bryant could have resulted in a win for the Aztecs.
Up next for SDSU is a weekend series with crosstown rival USD starting with a 6 p.m. contest tomorrow at Tony Gwynn Stadium.