Aztecs Fall to Air Force in Series Opener

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Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State

SAN DIEGO – San Diego State was unable to match the power production of visiting Air Force on Friday, dropping a 12-4 decision in the opener of a Mountain West series at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The Falcons combined for seven extra-base hits on the night, including a pair of home runs, to raise their record to 22-25 overall and 14-11 in conference play.

After pulling to within 6-4 in the fourth inning, however, the Aztecs were kept off the scoreboard for the remainder of the contest, falling to 14-34 on the season and 8-17 in MW action.

With the score knotted at 2-2, Air Force took the lead for good in the third when Zach Peters singled home Jay Thomason, who led off the inning with a base hit to right before advancing on a passed ball and a pop foul in deep right field.

The Falcons extended their margin to 6-2 in the fourth when Chase Spencer was struck by a pitch with two outs and took second on a wild pitch before racing home on Sam Kulasingam's triple to the gap in right-center, while Thomason soon followed with a home run to straight-away center.

SDSU responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the frame, as Irvin Weems crossed the plate on Sammy Kahler's sacrifice fly, while Evan Sipe singled and ultimately scored when Shaun Montoya beat the throw to the bag on a grounder to first.

Montoya's hit kept the bases loaded after Xavier Gonzalez reached earlier on a fielder's choice, while Finley Bates drew a walk.

However, Air Force starter Seungmin Shim was replaced by Gaines Estridge at this juncture and induced a flyout by Jake Jackson to prevent further damage.

Estridge (1-0) earned the victory after pitching 3 1/3 scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts to offset one hit, while Aztec starter Jacob Riordan (3-5) absorbed the loss after facing one batter to start the fifth.

The Falcons quickly gave themselves some separation with a five-run outburst in the sixth.

Spencer and Thomason contributed RBI doubles sandwiched around a walk to Kulasingam, chasing reliever Garvey Rumary. However, Charlie Jones greeted new pitcher Evan Miranda with a three-run homer that curled over the fence in right, which upped the visitors' advantage to 11-4.

Air Force accounted for the final margin in the ninth when Peters was hit by a pitch and later scored on Aerik Joe's single through the right side.

Thomason and Kulasingam finished with three hits apiece for the Falcons, tying SDSU's Weems for game-high honors, while Jackson totaled two hits of his own in the loss.

Spencer scored the first of his three runs in the first after crossing the plate on Kulasingam's RBI double to right. Following a flyout and a strikeout, the Falcons tacked on another marker when Kulasingam slid safely across the plate on a double steal after Jake Greiving was hit by a pitch.

SDSU responded in its half of the frame when Bates roped a leadoff double to right field before racing home shortly thereafter on Jackson's sacrifice fly.

The Aztecs then tied the ballgame in the second when Weems scored from third on errant pickoff attempt after an infield single to lead off the inning followed by a pair of stolen bases.

San Diego State looks to rebound in its weekend series with Air Force on Saturday, May 11, when the teams square off at 6 p.m. PT. The Aztecs are expected to start reigning MW Pitcher of the Week Omar Serrano (4-5), while the Falcons are slated to pitch Dylan Rogers (4-5).