Aztecs to Conclude 2024 Season at Nevada

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Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State

SAN DIEGO – San Diego State will play its final three games of the 2024 campaign this weekend when it travels to the Silver State for a Mountain West series against the Nevada Wolf Pack, May 16-18, at Don Weir Field at Peccole Park in Reno.

Thursday's opener is slated to begin at 6 p.m. PT, while Friday's encounter is scheduled to get underway at 5 p.m., followed by Saturday's finale at noon.

In addition to live stats, all three games will air live on the Mountain West Network, with links to both platforms available on Fans can also catch all the action on their TVs or smartphones by downloading the MW app.

SDSU (16-35, 9-18 MW) edged UC San Diego, 3-2, in its final home game of year on Tuesday, as seven pitchers combined on a four-hitter, including Jadon Bercovich, who notched his fifth save of the season.

Offensively, the Aztecs received RBIs from Xavier Gonzalez, Jake Jackson and Tino Bethancourt to key their victory and complete the season sweep against the Tritons.

Earlier, Jackson earned Mountain West Player of the Week honors for third time this season after propelling the Scarlet and Black to an 8-4 victory over Air Force on May 12 with his first career grand slam.

The Aztecs have collected seven other MW Freshman of the Week plaudits 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 has returned to the starting lineup as a designated hitter for the past two games, including a 1-for-3 effort at the plate with one walk vs. UCSD on Tuesday.

A total of 17 players from SDSU's 19-member freshman class have seen game action for the Scarlet and Black this season.

For the 10 time in the last 11 weeks, San Diego State is scheduled to employ the starting rotation of Jacob Riordan (3-5), Omar Serrano (4-6) and Xavier Cardenas III (2-5), while Nevada is expected to pitch Jason Doktorczyk (5-4), Casey Burfield (4-1) and Peyton Fosher (3-6) in succession.

A graduate transfer from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Riordan has gone winless in his last six starts after tossing the program's ninth no-hitter in SDSU's 13-0 victory over UNM 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.

Riordan has made four additional scoreless appearances this year, including a relief stint against Power-Five Missouri at the Tony Gwynn Legacy on Feb. 23, when he struck out six batters in 4 2/3 innings to pick up his first victory in a Scarlet and Black uniform.

Two weeks later on March 8, Riordan made his first start as an Aztec against Nevada, posting a season-high eight strikeouts in six innings for his second win of the season.

Friday's projected starter Serrano captured MW Pitcher of the Week honors for the first time in his career after yielding just one run on four hits and three walks with six strikeouts in seven-plus innings vs. Fresno State on May 4, as the Scarlet and Black posted a 3-1 victory.

Serrano tied his career high with nine strikeouts in seven innings of work against UC Irvine on April 20, but did not factor in the decision after giving up three runs on eight hits and a pair of walks, as the Anteaters pulled off a comeback victory in the ninth.

Cardenas is slated for his 13th start of the year on Saturday after recording one out in a relief appearance against New Mexico during seventh inning of a doubleheader on March 29.

The SDSU sophomore turned in a sparkling performance in the series finale vs. Fresno State on May 5, when he tossed six scoreless innings, offsetting three hits and two walks with five strikeouts to pick up his second victory of the season.

Despite seven walks, Cardenas avoided trouble throughout his latest appearance against Air Force on May 12 but did not factor in the decision after tying his collegiate best with eight strikeouts to offset two runs (one earned) on three hits in six-plus innings.

Cardenas 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 was not involved with that decision, either, after the Rainbow Warriors rallied for a walk-off 6-5 victory in 10 innings.

Entering the week, SDSU pitchers lead the Mountain West in opposing batting average (.262), strikeouts (471) and fewest hits allowed (443) while ranking sixth in ERA (6.98).

The Scarlet and Black also tops the conference with 9.60 strikeouts and 9.12 hits allowed per nine innings, which is good for 40th and 59th in the nation as of May 15, respectively.

Individually, Xavier Cardenas III leads the league in opponent batting average (.238) and occupies the third spot in fewest hits allowed (54) while ranking ninth in strikeouts (55).

Omar Serrano is also listed among the conference's top 10 in several categories, ranking fourth in innings pitched (73.2), fifth in ERA (4.40) while and in strikeouts (61). The junior right-hander is also slotted ninth in opponent batting average (.275).

Elsewhere, Jacob Riordan occupies the second position in the MW in opponent batting average (.244) and is slotted fifth in strikeouts (71) and fewest hits allowed (59) while ranking eighth in innings pitched (65.1).

Additionally, relievers Garvey Rumary, Evan Miranda and Jadon Bercovich are tied for the top spot in the MW in games pitched (23), with Bercovich climbing into the third position in saves (5).

Miranda and Bercovich are also tied for sixth with 13 games finished.

Offensively, SDSU ranks fifth in the MW this week in doubles (100) while occupying the sixth position in hits (462) and batting average (.265).

Despite missing four weeks of action, freshman Colby Turner shares the second spot in the conference with four triples, which is tied for 30th in the nation as of May 15.

In addition, Shaun Montoya is tied for fourth in the MW with 68 hits and ranks fifth with 10 stolen bases.

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 51 games this season, playing exclusively in right field. The SDSU junior has made 56 consecutive starts dating back to last season and has started 101 of the last 103 contests he has appeared in.

Since March 22, a span of 32 games, Montoya has hit .389 (51-131) with one homer, seven doubles, two triples and 33 runs scored, raising his batting average from .215 to .324.

Additionally, Montoya leads the team with multiple hits in 21 games, followed by Finley Bates, who has accomplished the feat in 16 different contests.

Bates has seen action in 50 games thus far, earning 26 starts at shortstop and 23 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 78 total bases, 57 hits, 12 doubles and 30 runs score while ranking third with a .277 batting average and fourth with a .341 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 10 straight outings, followed by Montoya (9) and Lavoie (8). Lavoie owns the team's longest current hitting streak at five games.

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 .287 batting average, 31 RBIs and five stolen bases. He also ranks among the Aztec leaders in several additional categories, including doubles (3rd, 10), slugging percentage (4th, .420), runs scored (4th, 28), hits (T-4th, 44) and on-base percentage (5th, .337).

Over the past 18 games, Jackson has posted a slash line of .384/.420/.630 with two homers, eight doubles, two triples and 21 RBIs.

SDSU trails the Wolf Pack 28-42 in the all-time series dating back to 1986. The Aztecs are 15-19 vs. Nevada in San Diego, 9-20 in Reno and 4-3 at a neutral site.

The Aztecs dropped two out of three games to Nevada, March 8-10, at Tony Gwynn Stadium. After claiming a 5-3 decision in the opener, the Wolf Pack turned the tables in the final two encounters, winning by scores of 8-2 and 6-0.

Individually, Finley Bates, Jacob McCombs and Evan Sipe led the Aztecs with four hits apiece during the series. In game one, Bates belted his first collegiate home run, while McCombs followed with an RBI double to key a three-run first, propelling the Scarlet and Black to the victory.

On the mound, right-handed pitcher Jacob Riordan made his first start in an Aztec uniform a memorable one, posting a season-high eight strikeouts in six innings for his second win of the season on March 8.

Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, the Wolf Pack (23-25, 14-13 MW) are tied with San José State for fourth place in the Mountain West standings, one game behind third-place Air Force, while Fresno State and New Mexico share the top spot.

The Spartans (20-30, 14-13 MW) play host to the Lobos (27-22, 16-11 MW), while the Bulldogs (29-23, 16-11 MW) visit the Falcons (23-26, 15-12 MW) at the Academy.

Nevada is coming off a 9-8 home victory over Pacific on Tuesday after dropping two of three games at New Mexico, May 10-12. Against the Lobos, the Wolf Pack were dealt a 16-0 whitewash and an 11-5 setback sandwiched around a 2-0 triumph.

With its latest results, Nevada moves to 10-7 in home games while maintaining a 13-18 record on the road.

Collectively, the Wolf Pack lead the Mountain West in home runs (68) and doubles (129) while ranking third in slugging percentage (.497) and batting average (.290). In addition, Nevada is slotted fourth in hits (494) and runs scored (328).

Individually, infielder Michael Ball (.319) is tied for the conference lead with 22 doubles and shares the fourth position with 52 RBIs, while catcher Nolan Wilson (.309) finds himself tied for fourth with 17 doubles of his own.

In addition, Taylor Holder (.310) ranks sixth in the MW with a .658 slugging percentage and occupies the seventh spot with 13 home runs, while fellow outfielder JR Freethy (.289) is tied for ninth in that category with 10 dingers on the year.

Elsewhere, infielder/outfielder Jesse Pierce (.270) is slotted sixth in the conference this week with nine stolen bases.

On the mound, Nevada pitchers rank second in the Mountain West in opposing batting average (.277) and fewest hits allowed (448) while occupying the third spot in strikeouts (407) and the fourth position in ERA (6.28).

Friday's projected starter Jason Doktorczyk is slotted second among the conference leaders with 85 strikeouts while ranking third in ERA (4.02) and fourth in opposing batting average (.256). He also shares the fourth spot with five wins on the year.

In addition, reliever Ethan O'Neal is tied for fourth in the MW with four saves.

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.