Aztecs Drop Regional Opener to Virginia Tech 5-1

Virginia Tech 5, SDSU 1 Opens in a new window

LOS ANGELES – The San Diego State softball team is in the City of Angels this weekend for the Los Angeles Regional of the NCAA Tournament. The Mountain West regular season and tournament champion third-seeded Aztecs drew the No. 15/17 second-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies to begin the regional on Friday afternoon. The Aztec bats struggled to get much going against Hokies starter Emma Lemley, scratching a run across in the sixth inning but it was not enough in a 5-1 defeat.
With two outs in the top of the first, Katie Goldberg singled through the right side and stole second base to get in scoring position, but her teammates were unable to drive her in.
In the bottom of the third, the Hokies led off with a pair of singles. Stacey Nuveman Deniz went to the bullpen as Dee Dee Hernandez came on for starter Allie Light, who pitched 2+ innings, allowing five hits and 1 run with a strikeout. After a bunt single loaded the bases with no outs, Cameron Fagan hit a sacrifice fly to center field for the first out of the inning as Virginia Tech got on the board. The next Hokie hitter, Cori McMillan, hit one on the ground to second in what was initially an inning ending double play. However, after a Virginia Tech challenge, McMillan was ruled safe at first, putting runners on the corners with two outs. McMillan tried to steal second but left early to end the frame.
The Hokies struck again in the fourth. With one out, they got runners on first and second with a walk and an error. A single by Kylie Aldridge scored a run as the second runner advanced to third. Freshman Cece Cellura entered the game in place of Dee Dee Hernandez, who allowed two runs, one earned, on a pair of hits in 1 1/3 innings. Virginia Tech extended its lead on a groundout before Cellura induced a foul popout to bring the inning to a close.
Virginia Tech got on the board once more in the fifth inning. Addy Greene led off with a single and advanced to second on a groundout. McMillan doubled to right-center field to score Greene and make it a 4-0 game. Cellura was able to escape the frame without any more damage.
The Aztecs got on the board in the top of the sixth. Makena Brocki reached on an error to lead off the inning and was run for by Elianna Reyes, who moved to second on a groundout. Mac Barbara singled through the right side to score Reyes from second to cut the Hokie lead to three.
In the bottom of the inning, Virginia Tech scored one more run. With one out, Cellura allowed consecutive singles. She was pulled from the game and allowed two runs over two innings. After a Greene RBI single, Cassidy West came on and induced a pair of fly balls that ended with running catches in left field by Bella Espinoza to end the inning.
Cali Decker singled with one out in the seventh, but the next two batters were retired to end the ballgame. Lemley allowed just three singles over seven one-run innings, striking out six.
San Diego State's loss marks the first time the Aztecs have lost their first game of the NCAA Tournament since an 8-3 defeat against Texas in the 2015 Los Angeles Regional. That season, the Aztecs beat CSUN and won the rematch with the Longhorns to advance to the regional final.
SDSU will take on the loser of fourth-seeded Grand Canyon and top-seeded No. 6/6 UCLA at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at Easton Stadium.
[2] No. 15/17 Virginia Tech 5, [3] San Diego State 1
San Diego State (31-19)       000 001 0 – 1   3 1
Virginia Tech (40-12-1)         001 211 X – 5 12 1
W – Lemley, 13-5; L – Light, 12-8.
HR: None.