Aztecs Set for Weekend Series vs UC Irvine

ESPN+ (Fri & Sun) Opens in a new window MW Network (Sat) Opens in a new window Live Stats (Fri & Sun) Opens in a new window Live Stats (Sat) Opens in a new window
Trevor Beal

SAN DIEGO – San Diego State continues its non-conference slate this weekend when it faces No. 15/17 UC Irvine in a three-game series, April 19-21, at alternating venues.

Friday's opener (6 p.m.) and Sunday's finale (1 p.m.) will be contested at Anteater Ballpark in Irvine, California, while Saturday's showdown (6 p.m.) will be held at Tony Gwynn Stadium on the SDSU campus.

In addition, the two games at UCI will air via subscription basis on ESPN+, while Saturday's clash will be broadcast on the Mountain West Network. Links to both platforms will be available on

Fans showing proof of admission to Saturday afternoon's Aztec Fast Football Showcase will also receive free admission to the SDSU-UCI baseball game later that evening. Additionally, the first 500 fans in attendance at Tony Gwynn Stadium will be presented with a free San Diego State license plate frame.

The Aztecs (11-25) are coming off a 12-5 loss to Long Beach State on the road Tuesday night, while the Anteaters dropped a nearly identical 12-4 decision to USC at home on Wednesday.

Since April 9, a span of six games, SDSU boasts four players with batting averages over .400 in Jake Jackson (.500), Shaun Montoya (.480), Jacob McCombs (.444) and Brady Lavoie (.421).

In that stretch, Montoya leads the Aztecs with 12 hits and is tied for the top spot alongside Jackson (9 hits) with seven runs scored.

Not to be outdone, Lavoie has racked up three home runs, three doubles and nine RBIs, compiling a .450 on-base percentage and a 1.053 slugging percentage.

Lavoie, who launched two homers with four RBIs at UCSD on April 10, propelled the Aztecs to victory over UNLV last Saturday after posting a career-high five RBIs. The Aztec junior went yard for a three-run homer to go with a pair of RBI doubles.

On April 15, McCombs was named Mountain West Freshman of the Week, giving the Scarlet and Black seven such plaudits this season, joining Jackson (Feb. 19) and five-time honoree Colby Turner (Feb. 26, March 4, March 18, April 1 and April 8).

McCombs tied his career high with three hits at UCSD (April 10) and vs. UNLV (April 14).

For the sixth time in the last seven weekends, San Diego State is expected to employ the starting rotation of Jacob Riordan, Omar Serrano and Xavier Cardenas III, while UC Irvine is slated to pitch Nick Pinto, Trevor Hanson and Brandon Luu, respectively.

A graduate transfer from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Riordan (3-3) will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak on Friday after tossing the program's ninth no-hitter in SDSU's 13-0 victory over New Mexico in the nightcap of a doubleheader on March 29. The Aztec right-hander offset six walks and a hit batter against the Lobos by matching his season-best with eight strikeouts, giving San Diego State no-hitters in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.

Saturday's projected starter Serrano (3-4) picked up the win in the Scarlet and Black's 7-5 home victory over UNLV on April 13, after allowing just one run on eight hits and two walks to go with five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Cardenas (1-5) is slated for his ninth start of the year on Sunday after recording one out in a relief appearance against New Mexico during seventh inning of a doubleheader on March 29. Earlier, the SDSU sophomore pitched a career-long seven-plus innings at Hawai'i on March 24, allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits and seven walks but did not factor in the decision after the Rainbow Warriors rallied for a walk-off 6-5 victory in 10 innings.

Cardenas was the sixth of eight pitchers used in last season's home game vs. UC Irvine, tossing one scoreless inning during which he yielded just one walk without a hit.

Entering the week, SDSU pitchers lead the Mountain West in strikeouts (336), opposing batting average (.260) and fewest hits allowed (312) while ranking and sixth in ERA (7.15).

The Scarlet and Black also tops the conference with 9.7 strikeouts and 9.0 hits allowed and per nine innings, which are good for 49th and 70th in the nation, respectively.

Individually, Jacob Riordan is slotted second in the MW in opponent batting average (.217) and fewest hits allowed (33) while occupying the sixth spot in strikeouts (48).

Omar Serrano is also listed among the league's top 10, ranking fifth in innings pitched (48.2) and seventh in both ERA (4.25) and strikeouts (42).

Elsewhere, Xavier Cardenas III is slotted fourth in fewest hits allowed (39) while ranking seventh in opponent batting average (.265).

Additionally, relievers Garvey Rumary and Chris Canavan are tied for the MW lead with 15 appearances, just ahead of teammates Jadon Bercovich and Evan Miranda, who share the sixth position with 14 games pitched.

Additionally, Miranda is tied for third in the conference with 11 games finished, while Jadon Bercovich is tied for eighth in that category with six.

Offensively, SDSU is slotted fourth in the MW this week in hits (334) but ranks sixth in batting average (.268).

Despite missing the last four games, Colby Turner still ranks second in the Mountain West with a .378 batting average while occupying the sixth spot with a .622 slugging percentage.

In addition, the Aztec freshman also shares the top spot in the conference with four triples, which is tied for 14th in the nation as of April 17.

Elsewhere, Shaun Montoya is tied for fourth in the MW with 48 hits and seven stolen bases.

Shaun Montoya is the lone Aztec to start all 36 games this season, playing exclusively in right field. The SDSU junior has made 41 consecutive starts dating back to last season and has started 86 of the last 88 contests he has appeared in.

Since March 22, a span of 17 games, Montoya has hit .451 (32-71) with four doubles, two triples and 20 runs scored, raising his batting average from .215 to .327.

Additionally, Montoya leads the team with multiple hits in 16 games, followed by Finley Bates and Colby Turner, who have accomplished the feat in 12 different contests. Turner also tops the squad with two or more RBIs in seven different games, followed by Brady Lavoie (5), Irvin Weems (4), Jake Jackson (4).

Weems has reached base safely in 13 straight games, totaling two homers, 12 RBIs and nine runs scored while drawing 11 walks.  The Las Vegas, Nevada, native tied his career high with four RBIs vs. New Mexico (March 29) and at Cal Poly (April 3).

Elsewhere, freshman Finley Bates has seen action in 35 games thus far, earning 19 starts at shortstop and 15 at second while appearing as a late-inning defensive replacement in SDSU's 7-1 victory over Portland on Feb. 18.

A native of Castle Park, Colorado, Bates shares the team lead with 10 doubles and ranks second with 43 hits while occupying the third spot in batting average (.291), slugging percentage (.419) and runs scored (20). He is also slotted second on the squad in total bases (62) and is tied for fourth in home runs (3).

Over his past 14 games, Bates has hit .341 with two homers, five doubles and 11 runs scored.

Meanwhile, Tino Bethancourt had his streak of reaching base safely snapped at nine games on Tuesday at Long Beach State. The SDSU third baseman logged a season-best five-RBI performance at UC San Diego on April 10, when he launched a grand slam in the Scarlet and Black's 18-8 romp.

Despite dropping three straight to the Anteaters, San Diego State maintains a 59-40-1 record in the all-time series, including a 31-22 mark at home and a 28-18-1 ledger on the road.

UCI posted a 14-2 victory in the last meeting between the two squads at Tony Gwynn Stadium on April 25, 2023, when the Anteaters finished with five extra-base hits, including home runs by Luke Spillane and Myles Smith, who combined for five RBIs.

Conversely, the Aztecs were limited to five singles, including two by Cade Martinez, while Xavier Gonzalez and Trevor Fox accounted for the other hits among SDSU returners.  

The two teams were scheduled to play in Irvine earlier last season; however, heavy rains forced the cancellation of that contest.

The Aztecs prevailed by a narrow 2-1 count in their last victory over the Anteaters in Irvine on Feb. 25, 2020, as four pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts to help key the victory.

San Diego State and UC Irvine are squaring off in a three-game series for the first time since 2014 when the Aztecs took two of three at Anteater Ballpark, winning by scores of 3-1 and 4-3, sandwiched around a 3-0 defeat.

UCI represents SDSU's first ranked opponent since 2022, when the Scarlet and Black dropped a pair of narrow decisions (9-6, 6-4) to No. 7/6 Stanford at home.

The Anteaters have compiled a 25-8 overall record and sit atop the Big West with an 11-4 mark in conference play.

UCI enters the weekend with a No. 15 national ranking by Baseball America and are slotted 17th by

Offensively, the Anteaters find themselves perched atop the conference in several categories, including batting average (.309), hits (362), runs scored (297), RBIs (274), on-base percentage (.437) and slugging percentage (.472).

In addition, UCI is slotted third in home runs (32) and ranks sixth in stolen bases (27).

On the national level, the Anteaters rank 17th with a league-leading average of 9.0 runs per game, while their .309 batting average is good for 30th.

Individually, Caden Kendle is slotted second in the Big West with a .412 batting average, followed by infielder Woody Hadeen (5th, .398) fellow outfielder Myles Smith (7th, .388) and first baseman Anthony Martinez (11th, .358).

Hadeen leads the conference with 50 runs scored and ranks third in hits (51) and on-base percentage (.530), trailing teammate Smith (.566), who also ranks 10th slugging percentage (.537).

Elsewhere, Martinez tops the Big West in RBIs (43) and is slotted fourth in hits (49) while sharing the fourth position in runs scored (36) alongside teammate Jo Oyama, who is tied for ninth in doubles (9) and RBIs (32).

Not to be outdone, Kendle ranks among the league leaders in several additional categories, including doubles (T-2nd, 12), slugging percentage (4th, .605), RBIs (T-4th, 35), hits (6th, 47) and on-base percentage (6th, .497).

Earlier this month, Kendle earned a spot on the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list, while Martinez received preseason All-America recognition from the NCBWA (second team) and (third team) prior to the 2024 campaign.

On the mound, UCI pitchers occupy the sixth spot in the conference in hits allowed (320), opponent batting average (.271) and strikeouts (270) while ranking seventh in ERA (4.70).

Friday's projected starter Nick Pinto (6-2, 3.16 ERA) is coming off his shortest outing of the season on April 12 when he gave up eight runs on eight hits and one walk in two innings of the Anteaters' 15-4 loss at UC San Diego. The UCI left-hander enters the week tied for second in the Big West with six victories while ranking eighth in both strikeouts (49) and ERA (3.16).

Freshman right-hander Trevor Hanson (4-1, 5.22 ERA), who is slated to pitch on Saturday at Tony Gwynn Stadium, was triumphant in his last start at UCSD on April 13 when he yielded three runs on three hits and four walks in five innings of UCI's big 16-3 win over the Tritons. He is tied for 18th in the league with 39 strikeouts entering the weekend.

Fellow classmate Brandon Luu (4-0, 3.94 ERA) is scheduled to make his eighth start of the year back in Irvine on Sunday. The rookie left-hander is tied for ninth in the Big West with four victories and is top among team starters with a .223 opponent batting average.

Former Aztec pitcher Ricky Tibbett (2020-23) transferred to the UC Irvine program with an extra year of eligibility afforded by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Eastlake High alumnus has made 16 relief appearances this season, posting a 1-1 record with a 4.07 ERA and 30 strikeouts across 24.1 innings.

Tibbett has compiled a career-high six saves thus far, which is tied for third in the Big West and tied for 20th in the country as of April 18.

In addition, redshirt freshmen infielders Frankie Carney (St. Augustine) and James Castagnola (Cathedral Catholic) hail from San Diego County high schools.

The Mountain West Championship returns to "America's Finest City" this season and will be conducted at Tony Gwynn Stadium, May 23-26. The top four teams in the MW regular-season standings will qualify for the double elimination tournament, with the winner receiving an automatic berth into NCAA regional competition. NCAA Regionals will be held May 31-June 3.

SDSU has hosted the MW Championship on five previous occasions, most recently after the 2022 season. The Aztecs also welcomed the event in 2018 when the Scarlet and Black claimed its fifth tournament crown in a six-year span.

Following this weekend's series, the Aztecs will remain local when they make the short drive down Interstate 8 to battle the University of San Diego on Tuesday, April 23, at Fowler Park. Game time is set for 6 p.m. PT, and the contest will air live on ESPN+.