Tony Gwynn's Aztecs host the Aztec Invitational at the San Diego Padres' new downtown ball park beginning Thursday.
March 11, 2004
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* San Diego State will host the first Aztec Invitational at PETCO Park this week beginning Thursday when they face Houston at 7:00 p.m. at the San Diego Padres' new downtown ball park.
* In addition to the Aztecs and Cougars, other Division I schools participating include Long Beach State, Nebraska, UCLA and University of San Diego. Local colleges UC San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene will also face each other during the four-day event.
* This is the 66th season of Aztec baseball since the sport was elevated to major status in 1936. The school did not field varsity teams from 1943 to 1945.
* The Invitational continues the following three days with three games each day. The complete slate of games is as follows:
Thursday, March 11
Houston vs. San Diego State...............7:00 pm
Friday, March 12
Pt. Loma Nazarene vs. UC San Diego.......11:00 am
UCLA vs. Long Beach State.................3:00 pm
Nebraska vs. Univ. of San Diego...........7:00 pm
Saturday, March 13
Houston vs. Univ. of San Diego...........11:00 am
Nebraska vs. UCLA.........................3:00 pm
Long Beach State vs. San Diego State......7:00 pm
Sunday, March 14
UCLA vs. Houston.........................11:00 am
Long Beach State vs. Univ. of San Diego...3:00 pm
Nebraska vs. San Diego State..............7:00 pm
BREAKING THE RECORD
* As of Wednesday (March 10), a total of 35,505 tickets had been issued for the Aztecs' game vs. Houston on March 11 during the Aztec Invitational at PETCO Park. That number eclipses the collegiate single-game attendance mark of 27,673 set by LSU and Tulane in the New Orleans Superdome during the 2002 season.
* Four-day passes for the Invitational are available at a cost of $50 for adults and $30 for students with single-day passes costing $15 and $10 respectively. Those may be purchased at the Padre Ticket Office at PETCO Park or by calling 1-888-FRIAR-TIX.
* Tickets for the SDSU Houston contest are reserved seating while the remaining three days of the Invitational will be general admission.
* San Diego State and Houston have met six times previously with each team winning three times. They first met at the 1982 NCAA Regional in Tempe where the Cougars claimed a 13-3 victory. The most recent contests came in 2000 when SDSU won two games in a three game series at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
* SDSU holds a 74-36-1 record against Long Beach State in a series that began during the 1956 season. The teams met regularly as members of both the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) and the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA). The 49ers have won the last three meetings including two last season. SDSU's most recent victory in the series came in 1999 in San Diego.
* The Aztecs have a 7-3 advantage over Nebraska in their series with the Huskers. They last faced each other early in the 1999 season when SDSU took a 12-11 decision in a contest played at the Shootout in the Desert in Peoria, Ariz. The teams' initial meeting came in 1982, an 8-6 Aztec win at the UNLV Desert Classic in Las Vegas.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
* Houston enters Thursday's contest with a record of 5-10 after playing 13 of their first 15 contests against teams ranked in the top 10. They have recorded wins over #1 LSU, #8 Long Beach State, #14 CSU Fullerton and #15 Baylor. The Cougars are led offensively by Cole Bruce (.362, 5 2B), Stuart Musslewhit (.350, 13 RBI) and Brett Cooley (.333, 3 HR, 14 RBI). Cooley is also a pitcher (1-0, 3.72) and is expected to start Thursday night's game vs. San Diego State. The team batting average is .273 and the team ERA stands at 5.48.
* Long Beach State comes into the Aztec Invitational with a record of 11-4 and a ranking as high as eighth in the nation in the Sports Weekly/ESPN poll. Brad Davis (.375, 11 RBI) is the 49ers' leading hitter along with Jason Vargas (.354, 11 runs) and Josh Buhagiar (.310). LBSU has one of the top hurlers in the nation in Jared Weaver, who has been named the national player of the week three times in the last five weeks. He is expected to pitch vs. UCLA on Friday with SDSU facing Cesar Ramos (2-1, 2.45) the next day. The 49ers hit .263 as a team with an earned run average of 2.11.
* Nebraska holds down a national ranking of 19th this week in the poll by Sports Weekly/ESPN. The Huskers come into their Friday contest vs. University San Diego with a record of 6-3 after defeating West Virginia last Sunday. Top hitters include Alex Gordon (.459, 3 HR, 15 RBI), Joe Simokaitis (.455, 5 2B, 9 RBI) and Jesse Boyer (.382, 13 runs. Sunday's expected starter against SDSU is right-hander Phil Shirek (1-0, 0.00). The Huskers hit .309 as a team with an earned run average of 4.56.
HEAD COACH Tony Gwynn
* Tony Gwynn is in his second season as San Diego State's head coach after being named to the position in Sept. 2001.
* In 2002, he served as a volunteer coach for the Aztecs under Jim Dietz, who retired at the end of that season.
* A former Aztec who played baseball at San Diego State from 1979 to 1981, Gwynn concluded a 20-year major league career with the San Diego Padres in 2001. With a career batting average of .338, he won eight National League batting titles, five Gold Gloves, and made 15 appearances in the annual All-Star Game.
* San Diego State dropped a 10-9 decision at Cal State Northridge this past Tuesday after taking two of three from 22nd-ranked North Carolina State last weekend at home.
* Last Friday, NC State scored twice in the eighth to break a 1-1 deadlock as it went on to defeat the Aztecs, 3-1. SDSU could only muster four hits in the contest and wasted a fine pitching performance by starter Scott Shoemaker, who gave up just one earned run and struck out seven over seven innings, but suffered the loss.
* Saturday was a different story as SDSU came back from a 4-1 deficit with four in the sixth and two in the eighth en route to a 7-4 victory. Lance Zawadzki had two hits including a homer while teammates Reilly Embrey and James Guerrero also had two hits apiece. Ben Coon pitched four innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win.
* On Sunday, the Aztecs scored six times over the first three innings only to see the Wolfpack tie the game at 6-6 in the eighth. However, SDSU got a bases-loaded single from Zawadzki in the bottom of that inning and went on to the 8-6 victory. Ryan Schroyer picked up his second win of the season in relief after coming on in the eighth and pitching a perfect ninth inning.
* On Tuesday, the Aztecs saw a 9-4 lead in the eighth evaporate as CSU Northridge scored six times over the final two innings (including four in the ninth) to pull out the 10-9 win. Zawadzki had five hits including three doubles and a pair of runs batted in as the team scored its most runs since Feb. 1. Schroyer was the victim on the mound, taking the loss after being unable to hold the Matadors in the final frame.
AZTECS REACH 2,000
* With its win over Sacramento State on Feb. 1, the San Diego State baseball program reached the 2,000-victory plateau.
* In the 66 seasons played since Aztec baseball was elevated to major sport status in 1936, San Diego State now has an all-time record of 2005-1220-37 (.620).
* During that period, SDSU has had only four head coaches: Charlie Smith (1936-64), Lyle Olsen (1965-71), Jim Dietz (1972-2002) and Tony Gwynn (2003-present).
* San Diego State's pitching rotation for this weekend is expected to be as follows:
Thu. - Scott Shoemaker (RHP, 1-5, 5.85)
Sat. - Daryl Harang (LHP 1-2, 2.45)
Sun. - Chris Hartshorn (RHP, 4-2, 4.10)
* Opponent starters this weekend starters are projected to be:
Thu. - Brett Cooley, Hou. (RHP, 1-0, 3.72)
Sat. - Cesar Ramos, LBSU (LHP, 2-1, 2.45)
Sun. - Phil Shirek, Neb. (RHP, 1-0, 0.00)
HITTING COMING AROUND
* After struggling on offense through the first third of the season, SDSU has been putting the bat on the ball in its recent games.
* Over the last three contests (two vs. 22nd-rankd North Carolina State an one at CSU Northridge), the Aztecs are hitting .336 (37-for-110) with six double, three home runs and 24 runs scored.
* The team has reached double figures in hits in each of those three games, the first time they have done so in three consecutive contests this season.
* SDSU had gone 13 games without hitting a home run prior to freshman Lance Zawadzki's solo shot in the first inning vs. North Carolina State last Saturday. Prior to that, the team's last homer had come on Feb. 1 vs. Sacramento State.
* The Aztecs have now connected for round trippers in three straight games, with Josh Hill hitting a home run vs. North Carolina State last Sunday and Jake McLintock hitting one at Northridge on Tuesday.
* San Diego State has hit just 10 home runs in its 24 games with outfielder Curt Mendoza the only player with more than one (he has a pair).
UNGRICHT LEADS HITTERS
* Freshman catcher Brock Ungricht had a 13-game hitting streak earlier this season, which ended in the contest against Notre Dame on Feb. 20. That streak included six multi-hit games and is the longest of the season for an Aztec.
* He has reached base safely (via hit or walk) in 22 of the 23 contests in which he has appeared.
* He currently leads the team in hitting at .337. He has also drawn a total of 15 walks for a .433 on-base percentage.
* Entering the weekend, he leads the Aztecs in runs scored (15), hits (30) and doubles (5).
* Defensively, he has committed just two errors behind the plate, with both of those coming in the same game at Texas two weeks ago.
WILSON FOR THE DEFENSE
* Senior Ryan Wilson has proven to be one of SDSU's most versatile players during his Aztec career. He has played every position in the infield (except first base), seen action in left field, and has even pitched.
* This season he has seen duty at both second base (3 games) and third base (16 games) and has not committed an error at either position in 38 total chances.
* He has shown a good eye at the plate with a dozen walks and a .397 on-base percentage.
ZAWADZKI HEATS UP
* Freshman second baseman Lance Zawadzki turned in a five-hit performance in Tuesday's game at Cal State Northridge. It was the first five-hit game for an Aztec since Rielly Embrey and Anthony Gwynn had five hits each at Brigham Young on May 9, 2003. The only other current SDSU player who has had five hits in a game during his career is outfielder Jake McLintock, who turned the trick at Brigham Young on May 24, 2002.
* Three of Zawadzki's hit at Northridge went for doubles as he tied the Aztecs record for two-baggers in a game.
* Over his last three contests, the transfer from LSU is hitting .500 (8-for-16) with three doubles, a home run, four runs scored and five runs batted in.
* He has raised his batting average to a season high .319, second-best on the team among the regulars.
HARANG SOLID STARTER
* Senior left-hander Daryl Harang has not given up more than two earned runs in any of his six starts (seven appearances).
* He has gone at least five innings in five of his six starts this season and has an earned run average of 2.45.
* Daryl, the brother of Cincinnati Reds hurler Aaron Harang, seems to have a knack for getting out of trouble as he is allowing an average of almost two base runners per inning (61 runners over 33 innings).
* After going through an 0-for-6 slump over five games, outfielder Josh Hill appears to have found his hitting stroke again.
* In last weekend's three games vs. North Carolina State, the senior from Lakeside hit safely in each contest, going 3-for-8 (.375) with two runs scored and four RBI.
* He hit his first home run of the year in Sunday's win over the Wolfpack.
* Right fielder Jake McLintock begins the Aztec Invitational on a five-game hitting streak, currently the longest on the squad.
* In his last five outings, he has gone 7-for-16 (.438) with two runs scored and a pair of runs batted in.
* He has walked 10 times this season (and struck out only seven) after walking just 30 times in his first two seasons at San Diego State.
* His home run at Northridge on Tuesday was his first of the year.
* He has raised his batting average to the .300 mark for the first time since Feb. 15.
ZINK PROVIDING RELIEF
* Freshman right-hander J.T. Zink has arguably been SDSU's most consistent middle reliever this season.
* He has allowed just five hits and one earned run in his last six appearances covering eight innings, and has given up just two earned runs in his eight outings this season (12.0 innings).
* His ERA over those 12.0 innings is 1.50.
HARTSHORN IN CONTROL
* Fifth-year senior Chris Hartshorn has been SDSU's most effective starting pitcher. He is 4-2 with a 4.10 ERA in his seven starts, with his only losses coming when SDSU was shut out by UC Santa Barbara and Texas.
* In his 41.2 innings this season, he has struck out 30 and walked 10, and opponents are hitting .241 against him.
* He threw a complete-game shutout earlier this season when SDSU downed Santa Clara, 4-0, on the Broncos' home field in mid-February.
GUERRERO HITTING AGAIN
* When the season began, shortstop James Guerrero was given the green light to be a switch hitter this season. After struggling to make the adjustment at the plate, the experiment ended with the start of the North Carolina State series last Friday.
* Over the Aztecs' three contests since the opener with the Wolfpack, Guerrero has gone 7-for-12 (.583) with four runs scored and three runs batted in.
* Over those three games, he has raised his season average from .192 to .247.
BURT ON BASE
* Senior left fielder Landon Burt has shown a knack for getting on base no matter where he hits in the order.
* He has reached safely via either a hit or walk in 17 of the 20 games in which he has played. In the three games in which he did not reach base, he had only one plate appearance.
* Burt currently has a modest four-game hitting streak going.
* He had a streak of five straight games in which he had walked at least once ended at Northridge on Tuesday.
* He is 6-of-8 in stolen bases this season. His seasonal best as an Aztec was seven during his junior year of 2003. He had a total of 11 successful steal attempts in his three seasons prior to this one.
COON PROVIDING RELIEF
* After struggling on the mound early in the season, sophomore lefty Ben Coon has shown his resilience in his last few relief appearances.
* In his last three outings covering five innings, he has allowed no runs on four hits, walking none and striking out three.
* He has given up only two earned runs in his last five relief appearances (7.1 innings).
* He got his first decision of the season last Sunday, picking up the victory in SDSU's win over North Carolina State.
* Senior starting pitcher Scott Shoemaker struck out nine batters over six innings in the loss to Notre Dame on Feb. 20. That matched his opening-day performance at Hawaii-Hilo when he recorded nine K's over six innings.
* He has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4-to-1 with 40 K's and just 10 walks over his 40 innings pitched.
* With a 1-5 record, he has been the victim of SDSU's inconsistent offense as the Aztecs have scored a total of six runs over his last five starts (all losses).
* Shoemaker has been San Diego State's number-one starter this season since opening day.
TAKE A WALK
* San Diego State has drawn 126 walks through the first 24 games of the season. Last year the team had 231 bases on balls over 61 contests.
* Six Aztecs have reached double figures in walks this season led by first baseman Rielly Embrey with 18. Last season, he had a total of 18 walks over the 54 games in which he appeared.
* Other Aztecs in double figures in walks include James Guerrero (17), Landon Burt (17), Brock Ungricht (15), Ryan Wilson (12) and Jake McLintock (10). Guerrero led SDSU in walks last season with 36.
* After attempting just two stolen bases as a freshman last season, shortstop James Guerrero already has swiped six in six attempts in 2004.
* Outfielder Landon Burt is second on the squad with six thefts in eight attempts.
* San Diego State catchers are a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts this season, accounting for over a quarter of the team's successful steal attempts. Both sophomore Jordan Swaydan and freshman Brock Ungricht have each stolen three bases in three attempts. The rest of the team is 16-for-23.
* The Aztec pitching staff has recorded double figures in strikeouts seven times this season. The team's record in those games is 3-3.
* The Aztecs have not produced a run in the ninth inning this season.
* SDSU won back-to-back games for the first time this season when it defeated North Carolina State last Saturday and Sunday. The team's longest losing streak is four games.
* The wins over NC State were the Aztecs' first victories over a top 20 team since defeating 20th-ranked South Alabama, 5-0, in the 2003 opener.
* Closer Ryan Schroyer is averaging over a strikeout per inning (21 K's in 18 innings). He had his longest outing of the year when he went the final 3.1 innings in the loss at Texas on Feb. 28.
* Freshman Lance Zawadzki has had multiple-hit games in five of the 13 contests in which he has appeared.
* Zawadzki has SDSU's only five-hit game (vs. CSU Northridge, Mar. 9) this season while Jake McLintock (vs. Hawaii-Hilo, Jan. 24) and Brock Ungricht (vs. Sacramento State, Feb. 1) have recorded SDSU's only four-hit games.
* Aztec pinch hitters are 3-for-15 with a walk. Rielly Embrey (single, double) and Brian Kinsman (single) are the only Aztecs with a pinch hit.
* Infielder Kyle Floquet made his season debut in the game at Texas on Feb. 27. It was three-weeks to the day that he had surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow.
* The shortstop position is the only one that has been occupied by just one player this season. James Guerrero has played every inning at short.
* Guerrero is also the only player to have started every game (24 contests). Landon Burt and Rielly Embrey have appeared in all 24 games while Brock Ungricht has started and played in 23 contests.
* Freshman catcher Clay Coulter has hit safely in five of the six games in which he has played.
* SDSU will open it 2004 Mountain West Conference campaign when it hosts Air Force in a three-game series at Tony Gwynn Stadium next weekend.
* The opening contest of that set is scheduled for Friday (March 19) at 6:00 p.m. That will be followed by single games on Saturday (March 20) and Sunday (March 21) at 1:00 p.m. and noon respectively.