Aztecs Capture MWC Regular-Season Title With 18-2 Win Over Utah
May 22, 2004
SALT LAKE CITY - Everything went San Diego State's way on Saturday as its 18-2 win over Utah coupled with New Mexico's win over UNLV gave the Aztecs the 2004 Mountain West Conference regular-season crown. The victory also makes SDSU the number-one seed at next week's MWC Tournament in Las Vegas and means it receives a first round bye in the championship event.
With the win, San Diego State stretched its win streak to five games, longest of the season, as it ran its record to 33-27. The Aztecs finished with a mark of 19-9 in conference play as they edged out both New Mexico (20-10) and UNLV (20-10) for the top spot. Because SDSU had a pair of games snowed out earlier in the season at Air Force, winning percentage was the determining factor in crowning the league champ.
On Saturday at Utah (21-34; 11-19 MWC), San Diego State got out of the gate quickly, scoring four times in the second inning. Chad Corona's three-run homer was followed by a solo blast by Curt Mendoza as the visitors took a 4-0 lead.
After adding a run in the fourth on an RBI single by Corona, the Aztecs put the game away with seven runs in the fifth as they sent 11 men to the plate. The big blows in the inning were a two-run double by Brock Ungricht and a bases-loaded triple by Landon Burt that scored all three runners as SDSU took an insurmountable 12-0 lead.
Over the next three innings, Utah scored a pair of runs off Aztec starter Bruce Billings. The freshman right-hander from San Diego (Morse HS) went 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits while striking out four to pick up the win and improve to 6-1 on the year. It was Billing's fifth win in his last five starts. Ben Coon and Chris Hartshorn combined to pitch the final 2.1 innings, allowing no hits with a walk and a strikeout.
The Aztecs added six runs to their total over the final two innings, with two of those coming on a two-run double by Josh Hill in the eighth and another pair coming on a two-run homer by freshman Brandon Rauch, his first as an Aztec, in the ninth.
SDSU collected a total of 16 hits on the afternoon with 11 of those coming from the bottom four hitters in the lineup. Corona finished with a pair of hits and five RBI while Hill (three runs, two RBI) and catcher Jordan Swaydan (two runs, one RBI) collected three hits apiece.
The Aztecs will depart for Las Vegas on Tuesday and await for the first round of the MWC tournament to be completed to find out who they will play in their opener on Thursday, May 27, at 3:00 p.m. SDSU will face the lowest remaining seed among the winners of Wednesday's UNLV-Air Force and BYU-Utah contests.
San Diego State 18, Utah 2 SDSU 040 170 024 - 18 16 0 Utah 000 010 100 - 2 8 1 Billings, Coon (7), Hartshorn (9) and Swaydan Buck, Florence (5), Breska (9) and Schlieman W - Billings (6-1) L - Buck (6-4) Sv - None HR - SDSU: Corona (6), Mendoza (5), Rauch (1) Att. - 153 Time - 2:56