BY JORDAN FINKELSTEIN (San Diego, April 1, 2014) – Scattered rain showers may have started off many San Diegan’s day on Tuesday, but it ended sunny, clear and cool for the USD baseball team (22-7), who rained down hits and runs en route to defeating cross-town rival San Diego State (18-10), 7-1, at Fowler Park.
The Aztecs took the first of two 2014 matchups, 8-5, on Montezuma Mesa on March 4th, and tonight the Toreros seemed determined to keep an edge in the overall series rivalry which now stands at 18-16 lifetime.
With four straight wins over USD over the last two years, SDSU hinted at it’s desire to try to make it five in a row for city champion honors by scoring the game’s first run in the first inning. Leadoff standout Greg Allen (1-for-3) laced the first pitch he saw to left center field for a single and later scored after a double steal and a fielder’s choice.
But the always scrappy Toreros seemed destined to win this one. Like a clap of thunder in the third inning, Andrew Daniel belted a two-run homer deep over the left field fence with Louie Lechich aboard and the hit parade began. After the blast, USD never looked back or lost the lead. Josh Goossen-Brown drove Lechich in with an RBI single to left in the bottom frame of the fifth to extend the a lead, 3-1, which was then never relinquished.
The slow but steady rain washing away the Aztecs hope of another win reached a downpour in the bottom of the seventh, as USD unleashed four runs off four hits and left the inning with the bases flooded, stranding three more potential runs. Austin Bailey smacked a two run single, and Jessie Jenner and Jerod Smith added RBI singles. Jenner and Joe Conner both ended the evening going 3-4 and Smith finished 2-for-4. USD is currently sporting a .333 team batting average, which is third in the nation.
SDSU starter TJ Kendzora (3-1) worked the first five innings and absorbed the loss, allowing three runs on seven hits. Kendzora was replaced by Aaron Cross who only lasted the sixth. SDSU hurler Orlando Meza tried to stop the deluge in the seventh but was quickly chased from the mound and replaced by Marcus Reyes who eventually worked out of the jam with an issued walk and a looking strikeout to Ben Wylly. But the damage was done and the Toreros had all the insurance runs then needed to protect the victory.
San Diego finished the evening with seven runs on 12 hits, while San Diego State was held to the first inning run and only managed three hits thereafter. Starter CJ Burdick (1-1) was happy to pick up the win and head coach Rich Hill masterfully used the battery of Ryan Olson, Lucas Long and Goossen-Brown to shore up the rest of the game.
GAME NOTES: Just in time, the weather turned to rain again at 10:15 p.m, just shy of two hours after the last out…The Toreros made fast work of the win in 2 hours, 35 minutes…First base umpire John Kinard was nearly “killed” by a curving, screaming foul ball off the bat of Kyle Holder during the USD outburst in the seventh inning. Subsequent action in that area had him jumpy for the rest of the evening…Hits weren’t the only things flying around Fowler Park, as the USD spirit squad showed up and hurled free bags of cookies into the outstretched hands of fans, making the victory that much sweeter…Attendance hit a season-high tonight with 1,068…Holy guacamole, don’t forget that May 2nd is Avocado Night with the first 500 through the gates receiving a piece of fruit, which is also a $5 Friday ticket promotion, hosting St. Mary’s…Fans in Section 8, Row 13 tonight all received a coupon for a free bowl of noodles, but I can’t remember from where (lol)…As usual, there were numerous raffle gift cards given out during the course of the first five innings…Next up for USD is a three game series vs. Gonzaga April 4 (another $5 Friday, 6 p.m.), April 5 (6 p.m.) and April 6 (1 p.m.)…Next up for SDSU is a three series home matchup at Tony Gwynn Stadium vs. Air Force April 4, 6 p.m., April 5, 6 p.m. and April 6 at 1 p.m.