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Story and photos by Liz Alper

February 25, 2017 (San Diego) - San Diego State baseball played their first game in the second annual Tony Gwynn Baseball Classic tonight against the University of Tennessee.  The Classic was originally supposed to last until Sunday, but due to inclement weather, it has been reduced to Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with UC Irvine opening the tournament against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame on Thursday night.  Senior lefty Brett Seeburger got the start for the Aztecs against another southpaw, junior Zach Warren for Tennessee.  The Volunteers faced Seton Hall earlier in the day.

The 4-1 Vols wasted no time.  In the first, junior catcher Benito Santiago Jr. (son of the great major leaguer Benito Santiago) grounded out to score a run, but the Aztecs held the Vols to a 1-0 lead.

Seeburger managed to silence the Volunteers (though not without a few jams) until the fourth when the Aztecs bungled a routine grounder and allowed Tennessee to score two more runs to take a 3-0 lead.  The Aztecs were able to get the third and final out by throwing out senior third baseman Jordan Rodgers on a force play at second, but the run counted and Tennessee ended the fourth up 4-0.

The Aztecs started to show signs of life in their half of the fourth.  After loading the bases, Warren issued a walk to junior left fielder Justin Wylie to walk home a run and put SDSU on the board.  They still trailed by three, 4-1.  Sophomore catcher Dean Nevarez spanked a base hit to right for another run.  Junior center fielder David Hensley beat out a throw to first and suddenly, the Aztecs were only trailing by one, 4-3.

Things took a strange (but positive) turn in the Aztecs’ half of the sixth.  Hensley singled to center, but after the ball was thrown back to the infield by Tennessee junior center fielder Brodie Leftridge, it rolled into the dugout and Leftridge was charged with an E8, allowing the Aztecs to tie the game at four.

But in the top of the ninth, that lucky roll proved to be not-so-lucky when Volunteers’ senior second baseman Jeff Moberg launched a solo home run to left center off of junior lefty Jacob Erickson to give the Vols the lead at 5-4.  Santiago took after his father and launched an RBI double to left center to bring home another run.  6-4.  Leftridge beat out a double play ball with a hustle to first and another run scored.  7-4 Tennessee.  Junior right fielder Dom Thornton singled into left to drive in the dagger run, giving the Vols a 8-4 win.  The Aztecs fall to .500 with the loss, moving to 3-3 on the season.  They were outhit tonight 15-6.

Saturday, the Aztecs will host a bevy of games at Tony Gwynn Stadium.  The action gets underway at 10:00 a.m. when Seton Hall faces Oregon.  Then, at 2:00, the Aztecs will take the field against the Pirates at 2:00 p.m. and then later at 6:00 p.m. to fight the Fighting Irish.


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