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Baseball To Host Trio Of Top 25 Teams This Weekend

Senior Steven Moranda will get the start on the mound against No. 3 Oklahoma Thursday night.
Senior Steven Moranda will get the start on the mound against No. 3 Oklahoma Thursday night.

March 2, 2011

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WHAT'S ON TAP THIS WEEK IN AZTEC BASEBALL
The Aztecs will play four games over a four-day span this weekend, all against teams ranked among the top 25 in the nation this week by Baseball America. All of those contests are part of the annual USD Tournament being both at SDSU and on the Toreros' home field. In addition to four games of their own, the Aztecs will host two other tournament games over the weekend. Action at Tony Gwynn Stadium begins Thursday evening (March 3), with a contest against third-ranked Oklahoma at 6:00 p.m.

USD TOURNAMENT
The complete schedule for this year's USD Tournament is as follows:

Thursday, March 3
   Teams                           Site    Time
   California vs. USD...............USD...2:00 p.m.
   Oklahoma at San Diego State.....SDSU...6:00 p.m.
Friday, March 4
   Oklahoma at San Diego............USD...1:00 p.m.
   California at San Diego State...SDSU...6:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 5
   California vs. Oklahoma.........SDSU...1:00 p.m.
   Connecticut at San Diego State..SDSU...6:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 6
   Oklahoma at San Diego State.....SDSU...10:00 a.m.
   California vs. Connecticut......SDSU...2:00 p.m.
Monday, March 7
   Connecticut at San Diego.........USD...2:00 p.m.
SERIES RECORDS
SDSU's record vs. Oklahoma stands at 1-5 with all six of those prior meeting coming at Tony Gwynn Stadium. The Aztec's lone win in the series came in the first meeting between the teams in 2001.
San Diego State holds a 4-3 advantage in its series vs. California. The teams first face each other in 1947, but did not meet again until the 1974 season. The most recent meeting between the Aztecs and Bears was in 2008, a 5-3 Cal win in San Diego. SDSU is 3-3 at home against the Bears and 1-0 in Berkeley.
Saturday's contest will be the first-ever between San Diego State and Connecticut.

SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Oklahoma, ranked third in the nation this week by Baseball America, enters the weekend with a 10-0 record. OU is led at the plate by 3B Garrett Buechele (.525, 5 HR, 17 RBI), 2B Eric Ross (.481, 10 RBI) and OF Max White (.469, 7 doubles, 8 RBI). Top pitchers included LHP Jordan John (2-0, 0.00) and RHP Michael Rocha (2-0, 1.29). The Sooners are hitting .430 as a team with a 3.19 earned run average. They are averaging 12.3 runs per game over their first 10 contests.
California, ranked 14th by Baseball America, brings a 5-1 record to town as it will face USD on Thursday prior to Friday's contest against the Aztecs. The Bears are led by outfielder Chad Bunting (.435, 8 RBI), catcher Chadd Krist (.381, 4 doubles) and infielder Tony Renda (.357, 5 RBI). Cal will likely throw RHP Erik Johnson (2-0. 0.00) on Friday. As a team the Bears are hitting .309 with a 1.02 ERA.
Connecticut has a 2-4 record with its next game being Saturday's contest against SDSU. The Huskies top hitters include infielders Nick Ahmed (.364, 2 doubles, two triples), Mike Friel (.348) and LJ Mazzilli (.263, 2 doubles). Connecticut's will start LHP Elliot Glynn on Saturday ((0-2, 3.75). The Huskies have a team batting average of .227 along with a 3.81 ERA.

SMITH COMES THROUGH
Cody Smith, a freshman from nearby Santana High School, had a season-opening four-game hitting streak stopped on Sunday in the game vs. University of San Diego. Last Tuesday vs. UC Irvine he came through with a pair of hits in clutch situations. He singled to drive in SDSU's second run in the fifth inning. In the bottom of the ninth, his two-out double drove home the tying run to send the game to extra innings. Smith leads the team with two multiple-RBI games this season after knocking in two against UC Irvine (2/22) and USD (2/25). He has gone 3-for-4 with runs in scoring position.

MEREDITH GETS OFFENSIVE
Outfielder Brandon Meredith's eight hits and five RBI lead the team after seven games. He has also hit four doubles to account for over a third of the team's total. On Feb. 20, against Winthrop he went 2-for-3 with a triple, RBI and run scored. The triple was the first of his SDSU career. He doubled in each of his first two at bats against USD last Friday. He has one of the Aztecs' two triples and one of the team's two homers thus far for a .708 slugging percentage.

SLADER INJURED
Cody Slader, a freshman from Castro Valley, Calif. (Bishop O'Dowd HS), suffered a bruised foot on Sunday when he hit a ball off his foot while at the plate. As a result, he missed Tuesday'a game against UCLA. His availability for this weekend's contests has yet to be determined. He had started SDSU first six six games at shortstop this season. Slader began his Aztec career by going 5-for-11 during SDSU's opening weekend (Feb. 18-20) vs. Vanderbilt and Winthrop. Slader is hitting .500 (4-for-8) with runners in scoring position and his .350 batting average is second on the squad.

ZIER LEADS IT OFF
Freshman second baseman Tim Zier (Escondido, HS) was SDSU's leadoff hitter in the first five contests of the season before senior Pat Colwell was inserted into that spot in the order in Sunday's game vs. University of San Diego. He went 6-for-14 (.429) with three runs scored in SDSU's opening three games of the 2011 campaign. He was also successful on his lone steal attempt. He went 1-for-4 on Sunday vs. USD to break a two-game hitless streak.

AZTEC PITCHING DEBUTS
Freshman left-hander Cole Swanson made his collegiate debut on Sunday against USD. In that game he tossed two innings of relief, allowing no runs on no hits with a walk and a strikeout. Another freshman, Kyle Hayes, also made his SDSU pitching debut on Sunday, throwing one inning of scoreless relief. Hayes previously appeared in SDSU's first five games of the year either as a pinch hitter (four times) or in the role of designated hitter (once).

GETTING PLUNKED
Two of SDSU's players adept at getting hit by pitch during their college careers will be on the field this season. Senior Pat Colwell is the Aztec career leader with 33 plunkings while junior Brandon Meredith ranks third with 25. Meredith was hit 14 times during the 2010 season, a total that ranks second all-time for an SDSU batter. Colwell was hit 13 times during both the 2008 and 2009 campaigns.

AZTEC NOTES
SDSU pinch hitters are 1-for-11 with the only hit a home run by freshman Denny Vigo in the season opener ... The relief quartet of Aztec newcomers that includes freshmen Philip Walby, Cole Swanson, and Kyle Hayes plus HC transfer Austin Haynal has allowed just one run in 11.2 innings of work, giving u six hits with three walks and four strikeouts ... Three players have started every game thus far for SDSU: second baseman Tim Zier, right fielder Brandon Meredith and first baseman/DH Jomel Torres ... Soph left-hander Matthew McDaniel has not given up a hit in his 4.2 innings of work in two relief appearances ... Pitcher Ethan Miller had a career-high seven strikeouts last Friday in his start against the University of San Diego.