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Aztecs storm back from a 14-5 deficit to stun Bulldogs


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April 18, 2021 (Fresno) - San Diego State once again displayed some late-inning magic on Sunday, overcoming a nine-run deficit to record a wild 21-14 conquest of Fresno State in the rubber game of a weekend set at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium.

With the win, the Aztecs claimed their eighth series victory in nine weeks this season, improving to 19-9 overall and 14-7 in the Mountain West.


SDSU set season highs with 21 runs, 23 hits and 19 RBIs to maintain their perch atop the conference standings. In addition, the Scarlet and Black produced its highest scoring output since March 25, 2018, when it cruised past then-No. 24 UNLV on the road 22-7.


Individually, the Aztecs were led by Jaden Fein, who went 6-for-6 at the plate with a home run, three RBIs and five runs scored, while five other players finished with three hits apiece, including Caden Miller, Matt Rudick, Wyatt Hendrie, Brian Leonhardt and Poncho Ruiz.


Fein set career highs in hits and runs scored, while Miller established a personal best with four RBIs, tying Rudick for game-high honors.


Both teams combined to utilize 15 pitchers on the afternoon, including seven by San Diego State. However, the Aztec quartet of Nate Hansen, Tre Brown, Seth Urbon and Christian Winston kept the Bulldogs (10-18, 7-11 MW) off the scoreboard over the final four innings, allowing a combined two hits, three walks and a pair of hit batters during that span.


Trailing 14-5 after the fifth inning, SDSU sent 13 hitters to the plate in the top of the six, scoring eight runs on six hits and four walks while benefiting from two wild pitches. The Aztecs tallied all their runs with two outs after Cole Carrigg raced home on Mike Jarvis’ sacrifice fly. The next eight San Diego State batters reached base, with Leonhardt knocking in a pair with a sharp double down the right field line, while Miller capped the outburst with a two-run single, trimming the deficit to 14-13. Rudick, Hendrie and Fein also got into the act with RBI singles, with the latter scoring on a wild pitch as well.


The score remained unchanged until the eighth when Fein led off with a double and later touched home on Ruiz’s single up the middle, which drew the Aztecs even at 14-14.


SDSU’s rally reached its crescendo in the ninth, as the Scarlet and Black scored seven runs on five hits and three walks, sending another 10 batters to the plate to put the game out of reach. Hendrie put the Aztecs in front for good with a two-run homer to left, his seventh of the year, while Rudick closed out the scoring for the visitors with a three-run triple. In the interim, Ruiz’s infield single knocked Leonhardt, while Miller drew a bases-load walk.


Brown (4-1) collected his team-leading fourth victory of the year after entering with two outs in the seventh. SDSU’s fifth reliever of the day pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk against two strikeouts before Urbon and Winston came in to work the ninth.


On the flip side, Nik Cardinal (0-3), who retired the final two batters in the eighth, was tagged with the loss after the Aztecs rocked him for five runs on four hits and a walk in the fateful ninth.


Ivan Luna, Zach Presno and Emilio Nogales led Fresno State with three hits each, while Luna, Andrew Kachel and Blake Wink racked up three RBIs apiece in the loss.


Luna led off the second with a solo homer, as the Bulldogs put up a six-spot in the inning, before adding a two-run blast in the fifth that gave the host school a seemingly comfortable 14-5 advantage.


Earlier, Fresno State also built a nine-run bulge at 12-3 in the fourth after Presno roped an RBI single and later scored on Wink’s sacrifice fly. However, SDSU responded in the fifth when Fein smacked a two-run homer to left center with two outs after Leonhardt reached on a single through the left side.


San Diego State returns home next weekend to open a three-game non-conference series against Dixie State April 24-25 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.