Aztecs Sweep Fresno State with 5-2 Victory

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SAN DIEGO – San Diego State completed a weekend sweep of Fresno State on Sunday with a 5-2 triumph in the finale of a Mountain West series at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

With the victory, the Aztecs (14-33, 8-16 MW) captured the season series four games to two after posting their first three-game sweep of the Bulldogs as members of the Mountain West and first since 1968.

Meanwhile, Fresno State (27-20, 14-10 MW) lost their fifth straight and slipped into a tie for first place in the conference standings with New Mexico (25-21, 14-10 MW), which routed UNLV on the road, 14-2.

SDSU excelled in all three phases to key their win, utilizing the same recipe for success as it did on Saturday night with strong pitching, tight defense and clutch hitting.

Tino Bethancourt set the tone for the Scarlet and Black with a three-run homer in the first inning, plating Shaun Montoya and Jake Jackson. Previously, Montoya reached on catcher's interference, while Jackson followed with an infield single.

The score remained unchanged until the sixth when Bethancourt led off with a double and took third on a subsequent wild pitch before racing home on Brady Lavoie's two-out single to left.

In the interim, starter Xavier Cardenas III (2-5) pitched six scoreless innings for this second victory of the season, offsetting three hits and two walks with five strikeouts, including two in both the first and third frames.

The Aztecs endured some anxious moments in the eighth when the Bulldogs scored two runs on three hits and a walk off Aidan Russell, SDSU's fourth reliever of the day.

Fresno State loaded the bases on Michael McKernan's single to left, while Ben Newton drew a walk before Eddie Saldivar bunted in front of home plate for a base hit. Shortly thereafter, McKernan crossed the plate on Tommy Hopfe's shallow single to left, while Newton trotted home when Rocco Peppi was hit by a pitch.

With no outs and the bases still juiced, Garvey Rumary was summoned from the bullpen and promptly struck out Grady Morgan and Murf Gray. Moments later, Cam Schneider stepped to the plate and roped a fly ball to the right-field gap on the first pitch; however, Montoya sprinted to his right to snare the ball and preserve the Aztec lead.

SDSU added some insurance in the bottom of the inning when Irvin Weems singled through the left side, stole second and ultimately scored on pinch hitter Evan Sipe's sacrifice fly.

Jadon Bercovich took the mound in the ninth and recorded three straight outs after issuing a leadoff walk to pinch hitter Marco Pirruccello, who took second shortly thereafter on a wild pitch. However, Bercovich received groundouts by McKernan and Saldivar sandwiched around a Newton pop-foul to collect his third save on the weekend and fourth of the year.

The Scarlet and Black maintained a 10-7 advantage in hits, as Bethancourt, Weems and Zane Kelly finished with two apiece.

In the opposite dugout, Hopfe led all players with three hits of his own, while Saldivar collected two in the loss.

Despite a game-high seven strikeouts, Bulldog starter Jake Riding (4-3) was tagged with the defeat after surrendering four runs (three earned) on six hits in five-plus innings, while Victor Arreola pitched the rest of the way after facing the second batter in the sixth.

San Diego State looks to build on its momentum next weekend when it welcomes Air Force for another crucial Mountain West series, May 10-12, at Tony Gwynn Stadium. All three games will air live on the Mountain West Network.