Aztecs' Power Surge Keys 16-11 Victory at Nevada

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Trevor Beal

RENO, Nev. – San Diego State tied a school record with six home runs on Friday to key its 16-11 victory over Nevada in the penultimate game of the regular season at Don Weir Field at Peccole Park.

Shaun Montoya set career highs with two homers and five runs scored, while Zane Kelly added a grand slam for his first collegiate blast, helping the Aztecs (17-36, 10-19) snap a nine-game losing streak on the road and knock the Wolf Pack (24-26, 15-14 MW) out of a tie for fourth place in the Mountain West standings on the eve of the season finale.

SDSU's home run total matched its highest output in that category since a 36-11 stampede at Air Force on May 5, 2006, and a 23-14 slugfest at Brigham Young on April 16, 1999.

On Friday, Montoya's production featured a two-run bomb in the first, followed by a solo blast in his next at-bat to lead off the third.

In addition, SDSU received a pair of two-run homers from Irvin Weems and Brady Lavoie, while Tino Bethancourt contributed a solo shot of his own, tying Montoya and Kelly for game-high honors with three hits apiece.

Bethancourt, whose first-inning homer gave the Scarlet and Black a 3-0 lead, later added an RBI groundout in the fifth and a run-scoring single in the sixth.

After Nevada stranded two runners in the first and another in the second, the Aztecs began to pile on the runs with alacrity, starting with a four-spot in the third. Along with the aforementioned dingers by Montoya and Weems, Lavoie singled home Kelly to essentially close the books on starter Casey Burfield's tumultuous night.

However, reliever Eddie Tierney fared even worse in the fourth when the Scarlet and Black erupted for six runs, capitalizing on a pair of walks and two hit batters.

With the bases loaded, Kelly stepped to the plate and crushed a 1-0 offering over the center-field fence, while Lavoie followed with another long ball after Evan Sipe was struck by a pitch, giving the visitors a commanding 13-0 advantage.

Sipe also raced home in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Bates to close out the scoring for the Scarlet and Black.

Lost in all the offensive fireworks was another gem by Aztec starter Omar Serrano (5-6), who struck out eight batters over seven scoreless innings, scattering five hits and two walks for his fifth win of the year.

On the flip side, Burfield (4-2) was tagged with the loss after surrendering seven runs on eight hits and one walk in three innings of work.

The Wolf Pack made the final score respectable against a leaky SDSU bullpen, scoring 11 straight runs off five relievers in the final two innings.

Nevada trimmed the deficit in half after sending 11 batters to the plate in the eighth, scoring eight runs on just four hits while taking advantage of two walks and an error. Jake Harvey's grand slam punctuated the outburst after Nolan Wilson's two-run double down the right-field line.

The Wolf Pack continued to narrow the gap in the ninth on Billy Ham's RBI single, Wilson's sacrifice fly and Justin Acal's run-scoring double. However, Jadon Bercovich caught Harvey looking at a called third strike to abruptly end the game.

Wilson led Nevada with three hits and three RBIs in the loss.

San Diego State closes out its 2024 campaign on Saturday when the same teams wrap up their weekend series at 12:05 p.m. PT. The Aztecs are scheduled to start Xavier Cardenas III (2-5), while Wolf Pack are slated to pitch another right-hander in Peyton Fosher (3-6).

SDSU will play host to the Mountain West Championship, May 23-26 at Tony Gwynn Stadium, with the top four teams qualifying for the tournament.

Heading into the final day of the regular season, Air Force and Fresno State have clinched spots in the MW Championship, while Nevada, San José State and New Mexico remain in contention.