Baseball

Aztecs Set for Rematch at USD Tuesday Night

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Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State

SAN DIEGO – San Diego State returns to the diamond on Tuesday, April 23, when it makes the short drive down Interstate 8 for a rematch with the San Diego Toreros at Fowler Park. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT, and the game will air live via subscription basis on ESPN+.

The Aztecs (11-28) will be looking to put the brakes on a five-game slide after dropping a weekend series against No. 15/17 UC Irvine. SDSU lost all three matchups with the Anteaters by one run, including a pair of heart-breaking defeats in the last two encounters by scores of 9-8 and 7-6 in 10 innings.

Despite the setbacks, including a 12-5 loss to Long Beach State on April 16, the Aztecs boasted some fine individual performances, including Jake Jackson, who picked up his second Mountain West Freshman of the Week award on Monday.

In four games, Jackson led the Scarlet and Black in several categories, including batting average (.688), on-base percentage (.722), hits (11) and RBIs (7). Not to be outdone, the SDSU outfielder struck out just once in 16 at-bats during that span.

Additionally, fellow freshman Jacob McCombs hit .538 (7-13), with four of his seven hits going for extra bases, including his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot in Friday's 4-3 defeat at UCI. The Aztec designated hitter also topped the squad with seven runs scored for the week.

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

Brady Lavoie has also been wielding a hot bat of late, batting .323 (10-31) over his past eight games with four homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs while compiling a team-best .839 slugging percentage.

Lavoie, who launched two homers with four RBIs at UCSD, propelled the Aztecs to victory over UNLV three days later on April 13 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. 

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP
SDSU is projected to start freshman left-hander Garvey Rumary (1-1), while USD is expected to counter with junior righty Ryan Kysar (1-0).

Tuesday's clash marks a rematch between the two hurlers, both of whom started on the hill in the Toreros' 9-2 triumph over the Aztecs at Tony Gwynn Stadium on March 5. However, neither pitcher figured in the decision.

Rumary logged season highs of four strikeouts and four innings pitched in that contest, allowing one run on three hits and four walks.

Rumary's counterpart Kysar also fanned four batters in five innings of work, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk.

Rumary picked up his first collegiate victory in the Aztecs' 8-7 triumph at Cal Poly on April 3 when he struck out two batters without a walk to offset one hit in 1 1/3 innings.

SDSU IN MW RANKINGS
Entering the week, SDSU pitchers lead the Mountain West in strikeouts (360), opposing batting average (.261) while ranking second in fewest hits allowed (339) and sixth in ERA (7.12).

The Scarlet and Black also tops the conference with 9.6 strikeouts and 9.01 hits allowed and per nine innings, which are good for 54th and 69th in the nation, respectively.

Individually, reliever Garvey Rumary is tied for the MW lead with 17 appearances, just ahead of teammate Jadon Bercovich, who shares the fourth position with 16 games pitched, while Evan Miranda and Chris Canavan are tied for seventh with 15 appearances each.

Additionally, Miranda shares the fourth spot in the conference with 11 games finished, while Bercovich is tied for seventh in that category with seven.

Offensively, SDSU shares the fifth spot in the MW this week in hits (362) and ranks sixth in batting average (.267).

Despite missing the last two weeks, Colby Turner still ranks third in the Mountain West with a .378 batting average while occupying the eighth position with a .622 slugging percentage.

In addition, the Aztec freshman shares the top spot in the conference with four triples, which is tied for 18th in the nation as of April 22.

Elsewhere, Shaun Montoya is slotted sixth in the MW with 52 hits and is tied for seventh with seven stolen bases.

STREAKING AZTECS
Shaun Montoya is the lone Aztec to start all 39 games this season, playing exclusively in right field. The SDSU junior has made 44 consecutive starts dating back to last season and has started 89 of the last 91contests he has appeared in.

Since March 22, a span of 20 games, Montoya has hit .422 (35-83) with six doubles, two triples and 22 runs scored, raising his batting average from .215 to .321.

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) and Jake Jackson (5).

Bates has seen action in 38 games thus far, earning 22 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 45 hits while occupying the fourth spot in batting average (.280) and the fifth position in slugging percentage (.398). He is also tied for second on the squad in total bases (64) and runs scored (22).

Montoya and Jackson currently own six-game hitting streaks, with the latter raising his batting average from .225 to .295 in that stretch.

Meanwhile, Tino Bethancourt had his streak of reaching base safely snapped at nine games at Long Beach State on April 16. The SDSU third baseman logged a season-best five-RBI performance at UC San Diego, when he launched a grand slam in the Scarlet and Black's 18-8 romp on April 10. He also went yard on Sunday with a two-run shot in the seventh inning at UC Irvine.

SERIES RECORD VS USD
The Aztecs lead the all-time series against the Toreros 79-62-3 dating back to 1962.

However, USD has won four of the last five encounters, including a 9-2 victory in the last meeting between the two squads on March 5 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

In that contest, the Aztecs nursed a slim 2-1 advantage until the seventh inning when the Toreros plated two runs to take the lead for good. USD then added a pair of three-run homers in the eighth to pull away for the victory.

Jacob McCombs launched a solo homer in the bottom of the second inning, while Irvin Weems followed with an RBI double in the fourth to account for SDSU's two runs.

Colby Turner also finished with three hits in that game to lead all players.

USD AT A GLANCE
The Toreros are slotted fourth in the West Coast Conference with an 11-4 mark in league play and have compiled a 26-12 record overall.

Following a 3-2 victory over Southern California on April 16, USD swept a three-game series at Pepperdine this past weekend, winning by scores of 11-5, 4-2 and 7-0.

With their results, the Toreros raised their record to 15-9 on the road this season while maintaining a 10-3 mark at home and a 1-0 ledger on a neutral diamond.

Entering the week, USD leads the WCC in batting average (.300) and hits (403) while ranking second in on-base percentage (.392), slugging percentage (.463), runs scored (279) and runs per game (7.3).

The Toreros boast three players who are hitting over .300, including first baseman Jack Gurevitch (.381) and outfielders Jakob Christian (.366) and Austin Smith (.321), with infielder Angelo Peraza (.299) not far behind.

Gurevitch leads the league in batting average, hits (56) and hits per game (1.47) while occupying the second position in on-base percentage (.489).

Not to be outdone, Christian tops the WCC in home runs (17) and slugging percentage (.846), both of which rank 10th nationally. He is also slotted second in the conference in RBIs (45) and third in batting average.

Elsewhere, Peraza occupies the second spot in the league in runs scored (41) and runs per game (1.11).

On the mound, USD is perched atop the WCC in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.81) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.7), which rank 13th and 16th in the nation as of April 22, respectively.

In addition, the Toreros lead the league in hits allowed per nine innings (8.22), which is good for 26th in the country, and are slotted second in team ERA (4.66).

Senior right-hander Connor Thurman has made a team-high 19 appearances, followed by fellow classmate Ivran Romero with 16 games pitched.

Smith, who doubles as a reliever and spot starter, leads USD with three saves on the season, while Thurman has two to his credit, along with Romero and junior Drake Frize.

Brock Ungricht, who won three letters at San Diego State (2004-06) as a catcher and corner infielder, is in his third season as head coach of the Torero program after serving the previous three years as USD's hitting coach and recruiting coordinator.

In 2004, Ungricht garnered first-team Freshman All-America accolades by Collegiate Baseball newspaper to go with second-team honors by Baseball America after batting .373 overall with three homers, 21 doubles, 48 RBIs and 49 runs scored. In three seasons at SDSU, he compiled a batting average of .318 with 44 doubles and 117 RBI, ranking among the Aztecs' all-time leaders in hits, doubles, RBI and total bases upon the completion of his collegiate career.

Ungricht was selected in the 30th round of the 2006 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees, playing one season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees before spending one season in 2007 with the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League. He also served one season as the head coach at Kearny High School in 2009 before joining the Aztec staff as a volunteer assistant the following year.

MOUNTAIN WEST TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO SAN DIEGO
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.

UP NEXT
Following Tuesday's crosstown battle, San Diego State returns to Mountain West competition this weekend when it travels to the Land of Enchantment for a three-game series against New Mexico, April 26-28, at Santa Ana Star Field in Albuquerque, N.M.