Aztecs Edged by Air Force, 4-3

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SAN DIEGO – Despite a combined 15 strikeouts from four San Diego State pitchers, which tied a season high, visiting Air Force did just enough to claim a 4-3 decision on Saturday in the second game of a Mountain West series at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The Aztecs (14-35, 8-18 MW) out-hit the Falcons 8-6; however, the visitors plated two runs in the top of the sixth to break a 2-2 deadlock en route to the victory.

Omar Serrano (4-6) fanned eight Air Force hitters—his second-highest total of the year—but was saddled with the loss after allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits and one walk in six innings of work.

Three SDSU relievers shut down the Falcons (23-25, 15-11 MW) over the final three innings, with Aidan Russell (1.2 IP) and Jadon Bercovich (1.0 IP) posting three strikeouts apiece, while Dylan Hawkes fanned one batter for the final out in the eighth.

However, the Aztecs were unable to complete the comeback, scoring one run in the eighth off Air Force reliever Doyle Gehring, who collected his eighth save of the season and preserved the victory for start Dylan Rogers (5-5), who gave up two runs (one earned) on seven hits without a walk in six-plus innings of work, finishing with five strikeouts of his own.

With the score knotted at 2-2, Sam Kulasingam led off the sixth with a single to left and promptly scored when Jay Thomason survived a 12-pitch at-bat and tripled to the gap in right-center. Moments later, Thomason raced home on a passed ball, giving the Falcons a 4-2 advantage.

SDSU chased Rogers in the seventh when Zane Kelly led off with a single through the right side. Gehring replaced Rogers at the juncture and induced line out by Brady Lavoie, as shortstop Aerik Joe gloved the ball on his shoe tops and fired over to first to double off Kelly, who broke towards second on contact.

The Aztecs managed to trim the margin in the eighth when Finley Bates scored on Jake Jackson's RBI groundout. Previously, Bates smacked a leadoff double before advancing on Shaun Montoya's deep fly to right center.

However, SDSU was unable to get the equalizer, as Gehring struck out Tino Bethancourt to prevent further damage before retiring the side in the ninth.

Bates, Montoya and Lavoie tied for game-high honors with two hits apiece, matching Thomason's total for Air Force.

The Aztecs opened the scoring with an unearned run in the first when Montoya scored on Bethancourt's RBI single up the middle with two outs. Earlier, Montoya laced a single to the opposite field in left before advancing on a failed pickoff attempt and a passed ball.
 The Falcons played small-ball in the second for their first run, as Zach Peters crossed the plate on Walker Zapp's squeeze bunt down the first-base line. Previously, Peters walked and motored around to third on a hit-and-run play when Tripp Garrish singled through the left side.

Air Force inched in front 2-1 in the third Chase Spencer scored on Kulasingham's sacrifice fly that was corralled by a diving Jackson near the left-field line. Just moments earlier, Spencer led off with a triple to the left-field gap, despite a valiant effort by Irvin Weems, who nearly chased the ball down after a full sprint from center.

The score remained unchanged until the fifth when Lavoie led off with a single and advanced on Xavier Gonzalez's sacrifice bunt before crossing the plate on Montoya's single to center, tying the ballgame at 2-2. 

San Diego State will be aiming to salvage the final game of its weekend series with Air Force on Sunday, May 12, when the teams lock horns at 1 p.m. PT.

Prior to the contest, the Aztecs will hold a special Senior Day ceremony on the field, celebrating the accomplishments of Jadon Bercovich, Tino Bethancourt, Xavier Gonzalez, Jonny Guzman, Brady Lavoie, Shaun Montoya and Jacob Riordan.