The San Diego State baseball team was nearly blanked Tuesday evening at UC Riverside as it faced off against a Highlanders squad that dominated the contest from the start.
Four UCR pitchers would hold the Aztecs to just one hit during the course of the first seven innings. Highlander starting pitcher Joe Patito made his first start after having served as UCR’s closer last season.
UCR wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as it took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Despite freshman Greg Allen’s double, which would eventually have him cross home plate in the eighth, and a couple of hits by senior Jomel Torres and sophomore Cody Slader in the ninth, two runs were all Riverside would need. The packed house cheered as the Highlanders won 7-1 and improved to 2-2 on the season, while the Aztecs fell to 1-3.
However, there was still a bit of silver lining on a night that didn’t have too many positives for an SDSU team still without its head coach. Tony Gwynn is recovering from surgery performed on Feb. 14 that removed a malignant tumor from the inside of the Hall of Famer’s right cheek. The fact the Aztecs never really competed Tuesday night (they were down 7-0 after four innings,) allowed young pitchers on the team, many of whom are freshman, some much-needed game experience.
With such a young squad, perhaps a lopsided loss early in the season was useful for the team. It may have provided game time and experience for players who would otherwise be utilized rarely and will serve the team better than a one-run, down-to-the-wire defeat would have.
“Our staff has a lot of depth this season,” senior pitcher Mike Hachadorian said.
Thus far, the pitching staff has also looked quite confident, oftentimes attacking hitters early in the count. “We possess an aggressive mentality on the mound this year that will lead to results,” Hachadorian said.
Although such a strategy seemingly backfired Tuesday night, only time will tell if the Aztecs’ pitchers can deliver this season.
SDSU will resume play at 6 p.m. tonight as it hosts Kansas State to kick off the first of four for this year’s annual USD Tournament.