Aztecs Set for Series Rematch vs. San José State


Game Week Preview

San José State (15-15, 6-6 MW) at San Diego State (7-21, 1-11 MW)

April 8-10, 2022

Tony Gwynn Stadium

Probable Pitching Matchups

Friday, April 8 | 6 p.m. PT


SJSU: Jonathan Clark, RHP (0-2, 6.66 ERA, 25.2 IP)
SDSU: Troy Melton, RHP (1-1, 1.00 ERA, 18.0 IP)

Saturday, April 9 | 6 p.m. PT

SJSU: Ethan Ross, LHP (0-2, 9.10 ERA, 28.2 IP)

SDSU: TJ Fondtain, LHP (1-4, 4.18 ERA, 32.1 IP)

Sunday, April 10 | 1 p.m. PT

SJSU: Aaron Eden, RHP (3-3, 7.34 ERA, 25.2 IP)

SDSU: Chris Canada, LHP (1-0, 2.70 ERA, 13.1 IP)

WHAT’S ON TAP FOR AZTEC BASEBALL

>    San Diego State dives back into Mountain West competition this weekend when it welcomes San José State to “America’s Finest City” for a key three-game Mountain West series, April 8-10, at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

>    The first two games vs. the Spartans are scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m. PT, while Sunday’s finale is slated for a 1 p.m. start.

>    In addition to live stats, all three contests will be streamed live via the Mountain West Network, with links to both platforms available on GoAztecs.com.

SETTING THE SCENE

>    SDSU is coming off a 5-1 victory over preseason Big West Conference favorite Long Beach State on Tuesday night, defeating the Dirtbags for the fourth straight meeting while putting the brakes on a eight-game home losing streak.

>    The Aztecs (7-21, 1-11 MW) will be looking to climb back into contention for the Mountain West tournament, trailing this weekend’s opponent San José State (15-15, 6-6 MW) by five games for the fourth spot in the conference standings. The top four teams will qualify for the MW Championship to be held May 26-28 at Tony Gwynn Stadium in San Diego.

>    As a staff, SDSU pitchers lead the Mountain West in several categories this week, including team ERA (4.44), strikeouts (274), opposing team batting average (.242) and fewest hits allowed (223).

>    On the national stage, SDSU ranks 53rd in the country with a league-leading 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

>    Individually, three Aztec pitchers find themselves among the conference leaders in ERA, including TJ Fondtain (4.18), who ranks sixth, while Jacob Flores (4.80) occupies the seventh spot, followed by Kelena Sauer (5.34), who is slotted 11th.

>    In addition, the aforementioned trio has landed in the MW top 10 this week in opposing team batting average, led by Fondtain (3rd, .210), Flores (5th, .239) and Sauer (8th, .270).

>    Not to be outdone, four SDSU hurlers are also ranked near the top of the league in strikeouts, paced by Flores and Jonny Guzman, who are tied for the seventh position with 32 whiffs apiece, followed by Sauer (10th, 29) and TJ Fondtain (12, 25).

>    Aztec right-hander Troy Melton, who has missed the first three weeks of the 2022 campaign is expected to make his fifth consecutive start on Friday against SJSU. Melton was named to the preseason all-Mountain West team in February.

>    Offensively, utility player Cole Carrigg and catcher Poncho Ruiz have each batted .444 over the last four games (8-18) with two doubles and three RBIs apiece. During that stretch, Carrigg has homered and stole three bases, while Ruiz has scored six runs.

>    In addition, Caden Miller continues to be a bright spot for SDSU, hitting safely in 13 of his last 14 games at a .377 clip to go with a .493 on-base percentage and a .509 slugging percentage in that span.

>    The Aztec shortstop tops the squad with a .330 average for the season and ranks second in the MW with 11 stolen bases. Against UCSD on March 29, Miller swiped three bases to set a career high.

>    As a team, SDSU second ranks second in the league with 33 stolen bases and 40 attempts and 14 sacrifice bunts.

>    Following this weekend’s series with the Spartans, SDSU will square off against crosstown adversary San Diego in the first of two meetings this season on Tuesday, April 12, at Cunningham Field and Fowler Park on the USD campus.

AZTEC WEEKEND ROTATION

>    On the strength of his performance against Long Beach State on April 5, freshman Chris Canada will join San Diego State’s weekend rotation vs. San José State with his second consecutive start on Sunday, following Troy Melton (Friday) and TJ Fondtain (Saturday).

>    Melton (1-1, 1.00 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for Friday’s series opener against the Spartans. The Aztec right-hander picked up his first victory of the year at Nevada on April 1, after yielding just one unearned run on four hits and one walk in a season-long seven innings. The SDSU right-hander also tied his season high with six strikeouts for the second consecutive start and limited Wolf Pack to a collective .160 batting average (4-25), as the Scarlet and Black rolled to a 13-1 conquest. Melton also started in last month’s series opener at San José State on March 18, when he ceded two unearned runs on three hits and one walk against four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings but did not factor in the decision. Last season, the Anaheim, California, native finished among the Mountain West leaders in several categories, including strikeouts (2nd, 83), innings pitched (4th, 73.1), opposing batting average (8th, .291), wins (T-10th, 4), ERA (11th, 6.14) and fewest walks allowed (T-15th, 30). He also issued one walk or less in eight starts. For his efforts, Melton was named to the preseason all-MW team prior to the 2022 campaign.

>    TJ Fondtain (1-4, 4.18 ERA) is slated to make is his fourth straight start and seventh of the year after a tough outing at Nevada on April 3, when he gave up five runs (one earned) on three hits and four walks over a three-inning stint against only one strikeout. In his previous start against Fresno State on March 27, the SDSU left-hander retired the first nine batters he faced until giving up three runs on two hits and three walks in the fateful fourth inning, as the Bulldogs ultimately prevailed 4-0. Fondtain returned to the rotation at San José State on March 20 and went six innings to tie his season-long stint but did not figure in the decision after surrendering five runs on six hits and one walk in 6.0 innings to go with a trio of strikeouts. Despite a bullpen appearance vs. UNLV on March 11, he still ranks eighth in the MW this week with 21.1 innings pitched. In addition, the Clovis, California, native finds himself among the conference leaders in opposing batting average (2nd, .208), fewest hits allowed (T-3rd, 22), ERA (7th, 4.30) and fewest walks allowed (T-8th, 12). Fondtain garnered Mountain West Pitcher of the Week accolades after collecting his first career victory in the Aztecs’ 7-1 triumph over Hawai’i in the Tony Gwynn Legacy on Feb. 25. Against the Rainbow Warriors, he tallied a career-high seven strikeouts, allowing just one unearned run on a scant three hits and no walks in 6.0 innings.

>    Meanwhile, Chris Canada (1-0, 2.70 ERA) is projected to make his second career start after collecting his first collegiate victory in the Aztecs’ 5-1 triumph over Long Beach State at home on April 5. The SDSU left-hander posted a personal-best seven strikeouts in a season-long 5.0 scoreless innings against the Dirtbags, scattering three and a pair of walks. A 2021 alumnus of Orange Lutheran High School, Canada earned all-CIF Division I honors as a senior after helping the Lancers reach the semifinals of both the CIF Southern Section playoffs and the CIF regional championships. During his final prep campaign, he posted an 8-0 record with a 1.39 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 72.0 innings while collecting two saves and limiting the opposition to a .159 batting average, In addition, Canada garnered all-Trinity League accolades and competed in the Orange County All-Star Game.

SERIES RECORD VS. SAN JOSÉ STATE

>    Despite dropping three games to the Spartans in Silicon Valley last month, San Diego State holds a sizable 84-36 lead in the all-time series, which dates back to 1938.

>    The Aztecs’ 48-game advantage in head-to-head meetings vs. San José State ranks as the fourth-largest spread against a single opponent in program history behind Air Force (116-31), Utah (104-35) and UC Santa Barbara (84-29-1).

>    SDSU is 46-13 against the Spartans in San Diego and 33-23 in San Jose. In addition, the Aztecs have won all five meetings vs. the Spartans on a neutral field.

>    Since SJSU joined the Mountain West during the 2013-14 academic year, San Diego State is 32-10 vs. the Spartans, capturing 12 of 13 series played between the two teams and winning three conference tournament games.

>    The Aztecs’ series loss last month in San Jose was their first to SJSU since suffering a road sweep in May 1999 during San Diego State’s last season in the Western Athletic Conference.

>    Last year, the Aztecs won five of six meetings against the Spartans, including a three-game sweep at Tony Gwynn Stadium, May 8-9, 2021.

>    SDSU opened its home series vs. San José State in 2021 with a big 17-3 run-rule victory in seven innings in game one of a twin bill, followed by a 10-6 triumph in the nightcap. The Scarlet and Black wrapped up the series the next day with an 8-3 win, scoring all of its runs in the sixth and seventh innings to complete the sweep.

>    During Mark Martinez‘s eight-year tenure as head coach on The Mesa, SDSU sports a 27-8 record vs. San José State, including a 14-2 mark at home, an 11-6 ledger on the road and a 2-0 record at a neutral park.

>    As previously mentioned, the Aztecs will be looking to avenge a three-game sweep at San José State last month, dropping all three contests by one run (3-2, 8-7 and 9-8).

>    Freshman Irvin Weems played two games in the series and led the Scarlet and Black with five hits and a .500 batting average, while Tino Bethancourt (.400) and Cole Carrigg (.267) started the entire weekend, finishing with four hits apiece. Carrigg also topped the squad with four RBIs, three runs scored and a pair of stolen bases.

GETTING BACK IN THE SWING OF THINGS

>    San Diego State’s offense has shown signs of life over the past four games, posting a collective slash line of .322/.402/.514 during that stretch, compared to its season total of .226/.334/.304 in 24 games prior to the Nevada series.

>    In addition, 17 of the Aztecs’ 47 hits over the last four games have gone for extra bases, or 36.1 percent, compared to 20.2 percent (36-178) for the first 24 games.

>    Not to be outdone, San Diego State has averaged 7.5 runs over its last four outings, compared to just 3.96 runs (95) over its first 24 contests of the season.

>    The Aztecs’ pitching staff has also demonstrated increased effectiveness during the last four games, recording a 3.18 ERA while limiting the opposition to a .192 batting average, compared to a 4.64 team ERA and a .242 average for opponents for the first 24 games of the 2022 campaign.

YOUTH SHALL BE SERVED

>    In all, San Diego State has had 19 of 37 players make their initial appearances in an Aztec uniform this season, including 10 true freshmen.

>    Tyler Glowacki, a true freshman from nearby Santana High School, has started 24 games in the outfield (19 RF, 5 LF) and leads all SDSU rookies with a .280 batting average, 23 hits and nine RBIs while sharing the second spot on the squad with five doubles.

>    Another outfielder Irvin Weems has started 13 of 17 games, including seven straight from March 19-27, batting .346 in that stretch (9-26) with four RBIs and five runs scored. 

>    In the second game of the MW series at San José State that was completed on March 20, Weems went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored, highlighted by his first collegiate homer, a two-run shot in the eighth.  In the series finale against the Spartans, the Las Vegas native added two more hits and swiped his first career base.

>    After sitting out the 2021 campaign as a redshirt, Johnny Giannola has made 16 starts this season, including 13 in left field and three at designated hitter. The Dana Point, California, native has had three games with multiple hits thus far, including the Aztecs’ 7-1 triumph over Hawai’i in the Tony Gwynn Legacy on Feb. 25, when he scored two runs and drove in another. Giannola has two triples this season, which is tied for third in the Mountain West.

STRIKEOUTS GALORE

>    San Diego State has recorded double-digit strikeouts in 14 of 28  games this year, including a season-high 21 vs. Hawai’i in 15 innings on Feb. 28.

>    Jonny Guzman and Kelena Sauer share the team’s single-game high this year with nine strikeouts, marking career bests for both players. Guzman fanned nine hitters in his first collegiate start at UC Irvine on Feb. 22, while Sauer accomplished the feat against UNLV on March 12.

>    In addition, four other Aztec hurlers have compiled career-best strikeout totals already this season: TJ Fondtain (7 vs. Hawai’i, Feb. 25), Jacob Flores (7 vs. Utah, Feb. 27), Jadon Bercovich (7 vs. Hawaii, Feb.28) and Chris Canada (7 vs. Long Beach State, April 5).

>    Entering the weekend, Flores and Guzman shared the seventh spot in the Mountain West with 32 strikeouts, followed by Sauer (10th, 29) and Fondtain (12th, 25). 

>    Collectively, San Diego State leads the Mountain West with 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranks 53rd in the nation.

>     SDSU recorded 27 games with 10 or more strikeouts during the 2019 campaign, marking the most double-digit strikeout performances for the Scarlet and Black in the MW era (since 2000). SDSU surpassed the previous MW record of 23 set in a 10-6 win at Fresno State on May 11, 2019.

>     Last season, the Scarlet and Black registered 10 or more strikeouts in 18 games, notching a 15-3 record in those contests. 

>     The Aztecs posted double-digit strikeouts in their last six home games of the 2021 campaign, including a combined 33 Ks in their three-game sweep over San José State, May 8-9, 2021.

 >     Previously, in SDSU’s sweep of Dixie State, April 24-25, 2021, Trailblazer hitters were punched out 42 times during the series, including 15 in the doubleheader opener, which marked a season-high for the SDSU staff.

>     During the shortened 2020 season, the SDSU pitching staff completed seven games with 10 strikeouts: vs. Virginia Tech, Cal State Fullerton, Iowa, Nebraska, at UC Irvine and twice against Oregon State. Not surprisingly, the Scarlet and Black went 6-1 in those contests.

>     Dating back to 2019, the Aztecs are 41-25 in their last 66 games when striking out 10 or more batters. 

STREAKING AZTECS

>    Caden Miller owns a current five-game hitting streak, followed by Cole Carrigg and Poncho Ruiz, who have hit safely in four straight outings.

>    Since going a combined 0-for-8 in the first two games of the UNLV series, March 11-12, Miller has hit safely in 13 of 14 games, hitting .377 during that span to raise his season average from .283 to .330.

>    In addition, Miller leads the Scarlet and Black with multiple hits in 11 games, accomplishing the feat in five of his last nine starts.

>    Carrigg, meanwhile, has recorded two RBIs on six occasions in his last 14 starts, highlighted by a two-run homer vs Long Beach State on April 5.

>    Tino Bethancourt, who returned to the lineup for the final two games of the Nevada series after getting hit by a pitch at UC San Diego on March 22, has reached base safely in 10 consecutive games. In the Aztecs’ 5-1 victory vs. Long Beach State, the SDSU infielder drew a pair of walks and scored a run.

>    Miller and Ruiz are the only two Aztecs to start all 28 games this year. Miller has made 28 starts at shortstop, while Ruiz has earned 23 starts at catcher and five at designated hitter.

>    As the team’s leadoff hitter, Miller is the lone Aztec to appear in the same spot in the batting order throughout the season, while Ruiz has batted third on 26 occasions and twice in the cleanup spot.

>    In addition, Carrigg ranks third on the squad with 27 starts, including 13 at second base, nine in center field, three at catcher and once each at pitcher and designated hitter. 

>    Ruiz had his nine-game hitting streak snapped in the second game of the Arizona State series on March 6, which marked the team’s longest this season.

GOING, GOING, GONE

>    San Diego State has emerged victorious in 45 of its last 65 games dating back to 2019 when launching one out of the park.

>    The Aztecs homered in 29 of 46 games last season, posting a 21-8 record in those contests.

>    SDSU went 17-5 during the 2019 campaign when going yard and 5-2 in 2020.

>    After recording a home run in just six of their first 24 contests, the Aztecs have hit one deep in four straight games.

>    Additionally, after not homering in any of its first five victories of the 2022 campaign, SDSU has gone yard at least once in its last two wins.

OTHER TRENDS

>    The Aztecs are 99-25 in their last 124 games when scoring five or more runs, including a stellar 29-6 record last year after posting a 6-2 mark in 2020.

>    San Diego State is 65-37 in its last 102 games following a loss, including an 11-5 mark in 2021. The Scarlet and Black is off to a 7-14 start this season in games following a loss.

>    Since allowing three runs in the top of the ninth to then-No. 17 TCU in the season opener, SDSU has won six straight games when leading after eight innings.

>    The Aztecs are 3-5 so far this year in one-run games, recording all three victories in that category by 4-3 scores.

>    San Diego State has posted a 12-9 record in Sunday games since the start of the 2021 campaign.

HEAD COACH MARK MARTINEZ

>   Mark Martinez is in his eighth season as head coach of the Aztecs and 17th overall as a member of the San Diego State staff after succeeding the late Tony Gwynn on August 20, 2014. He is just the fifth head coach in SDSU history since baseball was elevated to major sport status in 1936.

>   During his tenure as the Aztecs’ head coach, Martinez has compiled a 222-171 record (.565), highlighted by three Mountain West tournament championships in 2015, 2017 and 2018. He has also posted a 107-89 ledger (.546) in conference regular-season games.

>   Since 2015, SDSU has garnered 30 all-Mountain West accolades under Martinez’s tutelage, including back-to-back MW Pitchers of the Year Brett Seeburger (2017) and Garrett Hill (2018), as well as 2017 MW Player of the Year Danny Sheehan.

>   Additionally, Martinez has mentored three freshman All-Americans in Chase Calabuig (2015), Casey Schmitt (2018) and Jaden Fein (2019), with the latter also receiving Mountain West Co-Freshman of the Year distinction last year.   

>   In 2017, Martinez recorded his 100th victory for the Scarlet and Black, becoming the fastest head coach in program history to reach the century mark in wins.

>   Not to be outdone, Martinez also became the fastest head coach in Mountain West history to win three conference championships when the Aztecs captured the title in 2018.

>   Martinez was hired as an assistant coach for the Aztecs in July of 2005 and served for nine years under head coach Tony Gwynn. During that time, he was promoted to the position of associate head coach.

>   Since his arrival on The Mesa as an assistant coach, Martinez has witnessed 49 SDSU players get drafted into the professional ranks, with 10 of those selections making the major leagues (Stephen Strasburg, Addison Reed, Justin Masterson, Bruce Billings, Quintin Berry, Lance Zawadzki, Greg Allen, Ty France, Seby Zavala and Alan Trejo).

>  Prior to his arrival at San Diego State, Martinez was an assistant coach at New Mexico for 17 seasons from 1989-2005. During his time as a hitting and infield coach, he helped develop the Lobos into one of the most prominent offensive teams in the country, with UNM ranking among the top 11 nationally in hitting over his final four seasons.

>   Martinez served as an assistant at his alma mater, Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University) in Grand Junction, Colorado, from 1984-88. He played shortstop at the school from 1982-84, earning all-conference and all-district honors as a senior.

>   Martinez graduated from Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa) with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1984 and completed his master’s in sports administration at New Mexico in 1990.

>   During the offseason, Martinez signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him at San Diego State through the 2026 season.