The San Diego State baseball team was reeling after dropping both games of a doubleheader against New Mexico, a Mountain West Conference title contender, on Saturday.
The two setbacks made it a four-game losing streak for SDSU, which looked to have a strong effort in Sunday’s contest in an attempt to salvage one win and avoid the series sweep.
It did just that, in an extremely close, back-and-forth game, which featured four lead changes and a walk-off hit.
The game began with junior pitcher Ryan Doran firing on all cylinders as he allowed only one run through his first five innings of work.
Freshman catcher Seby Zavala had an RBI double to left-center in the fifth for the Aztecs, which tied the game.
The Lobos would then open the sixth inning with three consecutive hits to take a 3-1 lead.
SDSU answered back as freshman outfielder Greg Allen had a one-out single, which was followed by a double down the left field-line out of sophomore second baseman Tim Zier. Senior Chris Wilson drove Allen in and sophomore outfielder Spencer Thornton hit an RBI single to tie the game at three.
The contest remained scoreless until the Aztecs came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
Zavala recorded a hit, but was subsequently forced out at second as freshman infielder Steven Pallares hit into a fielder’s choice. Lobos pitcher Gabe Aguilar then hit freshman third baseman Matt Munoz with a pitch to put runners on first and second.
The stage was then set for sophomore center fielder Cody Smith, who drilled a pitch to right field and the crowd erupted as Pallares rounded third and sprinted home for the game-winning run. The walk-off hit made a winner of sophomore pitcher Justin Hepner, who followed Ryan Doran’s solid effort with two scoreless innings.
“It was a back-and-forth game today, but we were just the ones to come out and get some hits last,” 10th-year head coach Tony Gwynn said. “It’s good to at least come out with one win against the first place team. We’re still really in contention in the conference, so today was a big win for us.”