Aztecs Set for Home Finale vs. UC San Diego

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Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State

SAN DIEGO – San Diego State wraps up its 2024 home schedule on Tuesday, May 14, when it plays host to UC San Diego at Tony Gwynn Stadium. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. PT, and the game will air live on the Mountain West Network.

In addition, the first 250 fans in attendance for the Aztecs-Tritons clash will receive a free SDSU foam finger.

SDSU (15-35) dropped two of three games in a weekend series against Air Force, May 10-12, falling by scores of 12-4 and 4-3 before salvaging the finale with an 8-4 triumph.

Jake Jackson keyed that victory with his first career grand slam in the bottom of the seventh, which broke a 3-3 tie. For his heroics, the San Diego native and Madison High alumnus earned Mountain West Freshman of the Week honors for the third time this season after receiving the same distinction on Feb. 19 and April 22.

The Aztecs have garnered seven other MW Freshman of the Week accolades this season, including five by Colby Turner (Feb. 26, March 4, March 18, April 1, April 8) and one each by Jacob McCombs (April 15) and Zane Kelly (May 6).

After missing 19 games from April 12-May 11 due to injury, Turner returned to the starting lineup as a designated hitter against Air Force on Sunday when he went 0-for-3 at the plate, reaching base once after getting hit by a pitch.

SDSU is projected to start sophomore left-hander Connor Abadie (0-1), while UCSD is expected to counter with freshman lefty Landon Marchetti (2-2) on Tuesday.

Abadie will be making his first career start after seven relief appearances this season, posting a 2.45 ERA with a pair of strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

Abadie faced the Tritons as a freshman in 2023, setting season highs with two strikeouts and two innings pitched in the Aztecs' 5-3 setback at home.

Meanwhile, Marchetti has made four starts in 16 games this year, logging a 5.74 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings of work. He was credited with the victory in his last outing at CSUN on May 10, when he pitched two scoreless innings without a hit, giving up two walks against one strikeout.

Entering the week, SDSU pitchers lead the Mountain West in opposing batting average (.264), strikeouts (461) and fewest hits allowed (439) while ranking sixth in ERA (7.09).

The Scarlet and Black also tops the conference with 9.60 strikeouts and 9.12 hits allowed per nine innings, which is good for 43rd and 66th in the nation as of May 13, respectively.

Individually, relievers Garvey Rumary, Evan Miranda and Jadon Bercovich are tied for the top spot in the MW in games pitched (22), with Bercovich sharing the third position in saves (4).

Miranda also ranks sixth in the conference with 13 games finished, just ahead of Bercovich, who is slotted seventh in that category with 12.

Offensively, SDSU ranks fifth in the MW this week in doubles (97) while occupying the sixth position in hits (453) and batting average (.264).

Despite missing four weeks of action, freshman Colby Turner shares the second spot in the conference with four triples, which is tied for 29th in the nation as of May 13.

In addition, Shaun Montoya ranks fifth in the MW with 10 stolen bases and is tied for sixth with 66 hits.

Defensively, Evan Sipe is slotted fourth with 10 runners caught stealing, just ahead of teammate David Whittle, who has nine to his credit.

Shaun Montoya is the lone Aztec to start all 50 games this season, playing exclusively in right field. The SDSU junior has made 55 consecutive starts dating back to last season and has started 100 of the last 102 contests he has appeared in.

Since March 22, a span of 31 games, Montoya has hit .386 (49-127) with one homer, seven doubles, two triples and 31 runs scored, raising his batting average from .215 to .320.

Additionally, Montoya leads the team with multiple hits in 20 games, followed by Finley Bates, who has accomplished the feat in 16 different contests.

Bates has seen action in 49 games thus far, earning 26 starts at shortstop and 22 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 occupies the second spot on the team with 71 total bases, 50 hits, 10 doubles and 30 runs score while ranking third with a .282 batting average and a .347 on-base percentage.

Elsewhere, Colby Turner, Tino Bethancourt and Jake Jackson lead the Aztecs with multiple RBIs in seven games, just ahead of Brady Lavoie, who has accomplished the feat in six contests.

Turner has reached base safely in nine straight outings, followed by Montoya (8) and Lavoie (7).

In the series finale at New Mexico on April 28, Jackson tied his career high with three hits and four RBIs, falling one home run short of the cycle.

For the season, Jackson is currently slotted second on the team with a .288 batting average, 30 RBIs and five stolen bases. He also ranks among the Aztec leaders in several additional categories, including hits (T-3rd, 42), doubles (T-3rd, 9), slugging percentage (4th, .418), runs scored (4th) and on-base percentage (5th, .340).

Over the past 17 games, Jackson has posted a slash line of .391/.431/.609 with one homer, seven doubles, two triples and 18 RBIs.

After posting a big 18-8 victory at Triton Ballpark on April 10, San Diego State holds a 26-10 advantage over UCSD in a series dating back to 1971.

In that contest, the Aztecs set season highs in hits (22), runs scored (18) and RBIs (17), marking their largest offensive production since April 2, 2023, when they posted 22 hits and 18 RBIs in a 19-7 rout at New Mexico.

Seven players finished with multiple hits for the Scarlet and Black, including Brady Lavoie, who blasted two home runs and compiled four RBIs after replacing an injured Colby Turner in the bottom of the first inning.

In addition, Tino Bethancourt totaled five RBIs on the night, highlighted by his first career grand slam in the fourth that gave SDSU an 8-3 advantage.

Not to be outdone, Shaun Montoya tied a pair of collegiate bests with a game-high four hits and four runs scored, while Jacob McCombs, Cade Martinez and Evan Sipe set career bests with three hits apiece.

The Aztecs split two home encounters against the Tritons in 2023, posting a 5-2 victory before falling in 10 innings by a 5-3 count in the rematch. The Scarlet and Black also dropped a pair of narrow decisions to UCSD in La Jolla last year by scores of 2-1 and 5-4.

Since falling to the Aztecs by an 18-8 score at home on April 10, the Tritons (28-21) have compiled a 7-12 record. As a result, UCSD has slipped into sixth place in the Big West standings with a 15-12 mark in conference play.

The Tritons captured a series victory on the road this past weekend at CSUN, winning by scores of 11-5 and 9-2 sandwiched around a 6-4 defeat. In game one against the Matadors, UCSD erupted for six runs on five hits in the top of the 10th to secure the win.

With their results, the Tritons move to 8-12 in road games this year while maintaining a 20-9 mark at home.

The UCSD pitching staff ranks fourth in the Big West in strikeouts (418) while occupying the fifth spot in opposing batting average (.265) and tying for the fifth position in fewest hits allowed (448). However, the Tritons have slipped to 10th out of 11 teams with a 5.39 ERA.

Offensively, UCSD is batting a collective .269 for the season, which is good for just seventh in the league. However, the Tritons are slotted fourth in the Big West with 42 home runs and 304 RBIs while ranking fifth in slugging percentage (.411), on-base percentage (.375), runs scored (331) and stolen bases (52).

Freshman outfielder Anthony Potestio leads the team with a .312 batting average, followed by senior catcher Emiliano Gonzalez (.305) and another freshman outfielder in Michael Crossland (.292).

Elsewhere, junior outfielder Nick Costello finds himself among the Big West leaders in several categories, ranking second in walks (47) and fifth in on-base percentage (.475) while sharing the fifth spot in home runs (9) and the seventh position in stolen bases (12).

Crossland is also tied for seventh in stolen bases while sharing the eighth spot in doubles (13).

SDSU features nine players on its current roster who are alumni of San Diego County high schools, including Trevor Fox and Cade Martinez (St. Augustine); Manoah Chapman and Jake Jackson (Madison); Xavier Gonzalez (Hilltop); AJ Klubeck (Westview); Brady Lavoie (La Costa Canyon); Evan Sipe (San Marcos); and Nico Tomasello (Granite Hills).

Since 1965, San Diego State has had 227 student-athletes chosen in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, including 31 selections since 2015.

Former Aztec center fielder Cole Carrigg was taken by the Colorado Rockies as a catcher in the Competitive Balance "B" Round with the 65th overall pick of the 2023 MLB First-Year Player Draft; pitcher TJ Fondtain was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 14th round (423rd overall), while fellow hurler Kelena Sauer went to the Toronto Blue Jays shortly thereafter in the 15th round (454th overall).

With its selections, SDSU has had multiple players picked in six of the last seven years and nine of the last 11 overall.

In 2022, former Aztec right-hander Troy Melton was chosen by the Detroit Tigers in the fourth round with the 117th selection overall.

The previous year in 2021, SDSU had five individuals drafted by MLB organizations.

Infielder Mike Jarvis was selected by Pittsburgh in the sixth round with the 163rd pick, while catcher Wyatt Hendrie also went to the Pirates shortly thereafter in the seventh round in the 193rd spot overall.

In addition, the New York Mets grabbed center fielder Matt Rudick in the 13th round (382nd overall); right fielder Jaden Fein was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 15th round (443rd overall), while right-handed pitcher Michael Paredes was snapped up by the Minnesota Twins in the 18th round (549th overall).

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 Tuesday's clash, San Diego State closes out the 2024 campaign this weekend, May 16-18, when it travels to the Silver State for three-game Mountain West series vs. the Nevada Wolf Pack on Don Weir Field at Peccole Park in Reno.