Aztecs Defeat Fresno State, 3-1

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Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State

SAN DIEGO – Solid pitching, timely hitting and a stellar defense were all on display Saturday night as San Diego State defeated Fresno State, 3-1, in the second game of a Mountain West weekend series at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

With the win, the Aztecs (13-33, 7-16 MW) clinched the series victory against the Bulldogs (27-19, 14-9 MW), who lost their fourth in a row but still maintained a slim one-game lead atop the conference standings over New Mexico (24-21, 13-10 MW), which dropped a 13-8 decision at UNLV.

SDSU starter Omar Serrano (4-5) emerged victorious after allowing one run on four hits and three walks while striking out seven batters in seven-plus innings.

In addition, the Aztec bullpen quartet of Garvey Rumary, Aidan Russell, Dylan Hawkes and Jadon Bercovich kept Fresno State off the scoreboard for the final two innings, with Bercovich recording his second consecutive save and third of the season.

SDSU, which never trailed in the contest, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first after Jake Jackson reached on a fielder's choice and ultimately scored on Irvin Weems' two-out single up the middle.

The Aztecs increased their advantage in the fifth when Brady Lavoie was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, while Xavier Gonzalez followed with his second homer of the season, a two-run blast to the corner in left field on a 1-0 offering from starter Noah Beal.

Fresno State responded with a single marker in the sixth when Tommy Hopfe scored on Grady Morgan's two-out single to shallow left field, trimming the margin to 3-1. Previously, Hopfe reached on a base hit through the right side, while Rocco Peppi walked. However, Serrano avoided further trouble after Murf Gray grounded out to short.

Later, SDSU survived some anxious moments in the final two innings, including the eighth when Ben Newton led off with a walk, prompting a pitching change. Rumary replaced Serrano at this juncture but promptly induced a 5-4-3 double play to Eddie Saldivar.

Aidan Russell was then summoned to the mound and quickly regrouped with an inning-ending strikeout to Peppi after hitting Hopfe with a pitch.

Dylan Hawkes faced one batter in the top of the ninth, fanning Morgan on three straight pitches before giving way to Bercovich, who yielded a pair of singles to Gray and Tyler Davis sandwiched around Bobby Blandford's groundout in front of home plate.

With runners at first and third, Bercovich pitched two straight balls to Michael McKernan; however, Davis was caught stealing at second base, as Evan Sipe threw a seed to Gonzalez, who applied the tag to abruptly end the ballgame.

Though not on the stat sheet, Weems and Shaun Montoya cut off the gap on numerous fly balls to right field throughout the game, keeping the Bulldogs off the bases.

Weems tied Fresno State's Morgan for game-high honors with two hits.

Beal (3-4) absorbed the loss for the Bulldogs after allowing all three runs on six hits and one walk with four strikeouts in six innings of work, while Aidan Cremarosa (1 H) pitched the final two frames.

San Diego State looks to complete its first sweep of the season on Sunday when it faces Fresno State in the series finale at 1 p.m. PT. The Aztecs are expected to pitch Xavier Cardenas III (1-5), while the Bulldogs are projected to counter with Jake Riding (4-2).