The Aztecs came into this season after a disappointing 2016 campaign in which they finished 21-38. This year’s Aztec squad has returned with renewed vigor and a determination to reclaim their place at the top of the Mountain West. It is in stark contrast to the poor play of the 2016 season, as the Aztecs find themselves at 24-10 heading into Thursday night’s game at UNLV. This turnaround cannot be attributed to one player, for it has been the success of players in all three phases of the game: pitching, defense, and offense.
The starting pitching has been the start of it all, with Brett Seeburger enjoying a bounceback season (6-1, 2.65 ERA) along with Dominic Purpura (5-0, 3.06 ERA). This excellent starting pitching has given a key bridge to what has been a very effective bullpen. The SDSU bullpen this season has featured breakout performances from junior Jacob Erickson (1.50 ERA), freshman Logan Boyer (0.79 ERA), as well as Adrian Mardueno (2.77 ERA). These bullpen pieces have provided solid relief pitching appearances, giving way to standout closer CJ Saylor (1.80 ERA), who has 9 saves on the season. Despite these impressive players, the pitching has only been the start of the Aztecs’ success.
The Aztec defense has also contributed to the team’s success, especially on the infield. Last season Alan Trejo struggled at shortstop, perhaps contributing to his offensive dip; however, with the move to second base this season, he is enjoying a breakout year. The addition of Danny Sheehan at shortstop, who the Aztecs dearly missed last season, has provided great defense and important veteran leadership. This formidable combination up the middle has given the Aztecs’ pitching staff a reliable defense to count on. Third baseman Andrew Brown and first baseman Jordan Verdon have also contributed solid play at both corners. The outfield remains solid, as Chase Calabuig, Tyler Adkison, and Julian Escobedo have proved to be a speedy outfield unit. The catching platoon which includes Dean Nevarez and Hunter Stratton have provided good pitch calling and defense behind the plate. Even freshman catcher Ryan Orr has had a breakout performance against UCLA, throwing out 3 would-be base stealers.
Perhaps the biggest component to the Aztecs’ turnaround has been the offense. The SDSU lineup has become an offensive juggernaut, with standouts Adkison (.402 BA), Brown (.340 BA), Trejo (.315), and Sheehan (.328 BA) leading the way. While these players catch the eye, the lineup has been productive one through nine. Trejo has been the catalyst at the top of the order, getting on base for the likes of Brown and Sheehan. Adkison has provided the power with a team-leading nine home runs on the season. Even the bottom of the order has produced, as DH Andrew Martinez has contributed four home runs to go along with a .320 BA. Nevarez has contributed to the hit parade as well, adding .273 BA as well as three home runs.
We are witnessing a truly great college baseball team with fantastic performances at every position. The Aztecs are looking to continue this exciting turnaround as we head towards the close of the regular season.