Eight months ago, I wrote a blog about the late Tony Gwynn and what he meant to San Diego.
Whatever people called him – Mr. Padre, Aztec For Life, Hall of Famer, Coach, or Dad – Gwynn cared about what he did and who he interacted with.
The San Diego State baseball program honored their late head coach with a baseball tournament in his name back in 2015 and this past weekend, they hosted their fifth annual Tony Gwynn Legacy.
Head coach Mark Martinez said the tournament gives programs across the United States the opportunity to come to “America’s Finest City” and learn about Coach Gwynn.
“We celebrate Tony’s legacy and this is a focal point for this weekend, for great programs throughout the country to play in San Diego,” Martinez said in a press conference Friday. “Our baseball program celebrates Tony’s legacy every single day. It’s a turbo charge to what we do every day with Tony.”
On Sunday, the Aztecs started strong with senior outfielder Mike Jarvis hitting his second home run to left field to start SDSU’s offense in the first inning. It was the San Diego native’s second leadoff home run this season.
After a couple of two-RBI singles in the third and fourth inning, the Aztecs would go on to lose, 11-5 against the Trojans on the final day of the Tony Gwynn Legacy Tournament.
The Trojans responded in the top of the fifth when USC junior outfielder Ben Ramirez, who played with juniors Casey Schmitt and Brian Leonhardt at Eastlake High School in San Diego, hit a bases-clearing triple to the left field corner to cap off a five-run inning.
Overall, the Aztecs had four errors defensively and 10 of the 11 runs were unearned for Aztec pitching.
Head coach Mark Martinez said the team did not make the right choices but realizes they can regroup.
“We made some bad decisions defensively,” Martinez said. “The biggest thing for me is we have to manage success and manage adversity and hard times.”
Despite defensive miscues, sophomore pitcher Aaron Eden started and went 4 and two-thirds innings. He cruised through the first four innings, allowing just a hit and a walk.
“(I was) getting ahead, using my fastball to my advantage,” Eden said. “That’s my best pitch so that helped me.”
Although SDSU lost this game, they won twice in this weekend’s Tony Gwynn Legacy.
It is the third consecutive year SDSU has won at least two games during the Tony Gwynn Legacy Tournament.
SDSU defeated Iowa 4-1 on Friday and beat Nebraska on Saturday 4-2.
Leonhardt, who also pitched an inning against USC, said it was a good weekend, but a better week with SDSU’s midweek victory over Cal State Fullerton.
“We won the weekend,” Leonhardt said. “If someone told us going into the weekend, ‘you’re going to win two of three,’ we are going to look back on we won two out of three and three out of four.”
Leonhardt said exposing Gwynn’s legacy to teams across the country is positive and ensures that SDSU will continue to promote who Tony Gwynn was – a hard worker – even after he passed away.
“I believe if he was here, he’d be proud of us,” Leonhardt said. “Although we had a tough loss, we battled hard to get two gritty wins Friday and Saturday. It’s great to come out and play for him every day.”
The Aztecs hit the road Tuesday to UC Irvine before coming home to play the 2018 National Champions, Oregon State Beavers.