The roller-coaster ride continues for the San Diego State Baseball team. The Aztecs traveled north to face the UC Irvine Anteaters Tuesday, still riding high after a walk-off victory against New Mexico on Sunday.
Sophomore right-hander Philip Walby took the mound for SDSU, which looked to maintain its momentum in the non-conference matchup in preparation for a three-game series with Mountain West Conference-leading TCU beginning Friday.
Walby would get off to a rough start, though, as UCI wasted little time putting an unearned run on the board by way of an errant throw that escaped freshman infielder Ryan Muno, who got the start at first. The error allowed Irvine’s Jordan Fox to advance to second. He was then driven in by Connor Spencer.
The Anteaters utilized an unconventional lineup strategy that sent five consecutive right-handed hitters to the plate, followed by four straight lefties. Because of this, SDSU alternated left and right-handed pitchers throughout the contest, eventually using a total of nine.
The score remained 1-0 in favor of Irvine until the fifth inning, when the Anteaters tacked on three additional runs to increase their lead. However, the Aztecs would answer with two runs of their own in the sixth after freshman outfielder Greg Allen dropped down a sacrifice bunt to put sophomore outfielder Cody Smith and freshman infielder Tanner Reibenspies, who got his first start at third base, on second and third. Reibenspies then scored on a wild pitch, and Smith was driven in by sophomore Tim Zier’s double to right-center field.
Irvine added another run in its half of the inning to make it 5-2, but SDSU responded by scoring a run in the seventh. Although Zier had yet another double to lead off the eighth, the team was unable to get a rally going and the hot-hitting second baseman was the only Aztec player to score.
When it seemed SDSU had momentum in its favor, the Anteaters blew the game open with five runs in the bottom of the eighth. The Aztecs would score once more in the ninth, but Irvine took the game with a 10-5 score.
“The offense has definitely been there,” SDSU head coach Tony Gwynn said. “But there have been moments when we’ve really needed some timely hitting and we’ve been unable to get it done.”
Tuesday was seemingly one of those nights as the team didn’t get on the scoreboard until the sixth inning and failed to complete a near comeback.
SDSU drops to 18-21 with the loss, and the team will continue play at 6 p.m. on Friday at Tony Gwynn Stadium as TCU comes to town for the beginning of a three-game series.