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Aztecs' Brian Leonhardt combines for six RBIs on the day


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March 1, 2021 (La Jolla) - San Diego State closed out its weekend series in style, winning both games of a doubleheader against UC San Diego on Sunday at Triton Ballpark. The Aztecs opened with a 7-5 triumph in 11 innings before recording a 13-6 conquest in the nightcap.

With the sweep, SDSU captured three of four games from the Tritons, improving to 5-2 overall, while UCSD slips to 1-3 on the young season.

In game one, Brian Leonhardt provided the winning margin with a clutch two-run single with two outs in the top of the 11th, scoring Wyatt Hendrie and Jaden Fein. The redshirt sophomore was also credited as the winning pitcher in the nightcap, helping his own cause with four RBIs, including a two-run homer.

Fein posted a team-high seven hits and five runs scored in the twin-bill, while Matt Rudick combined for four hits and crossed the plate on three occasions, along with Leonhardt and Jacob Cruce.

In the opener, the Aztecs broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth when Poncho Ruiz crushed the first pitch over the left field fence for a two-run homer, plating Rudick, who led off with a single. Ruiz, a freshman from Mater Dei Catholic High, collected his first career hit with the blast after earning his first collegiate start at catcher. 

The Scarlet and Black extended their advantage moments later when Ryan Orr ripped an 0-1 offering down the right field line for a triple that scored Fein, who previous singled and stole second.

The score remained unchanged until the eighth when pinch hitter Aaron Kim belted a three-run homer off reliever Tre Brown with two outs. Earlier, Jackson Kritsch reached on a throwing error, while Marc Filia drew a walk following a strikeout and a flyout.

Brown replaced Joseph Ingrassia at this juncture, but Kim went deep on the second offering to tie the game. Unfazed, the redshirt junior retired the next six batters, setting the stage for Leonhardt’s heroics in the 11th.

After a foul out, Wyatt Hendrie dove headfirst to beat out a grounder to shortstop and later advanced to third on Fein’s double to left following a pop up in the infield. Leonhardt then stepped to the plate for the eventual game-winning hit.

Brown (1-0) remained in the game for the Tritons’ last at-bat, striking out the final two hitters to pick up the victory after yielding a single and hitting a batter. Conversely, UCSD’s Nic Gregson (0-1) took the loss after giving up both runs on a pivotal three hits.

Aztec starter Michael Paredes struck out five batters in six innings, allowing just two runs and no walks while scattering eight hits.

In game two, San Diego State vaulted in front for good at 3-1 in the second, thanks to two-out RBI singles by Caden Miller and Mike Jarvis following Cole Carrigg’s grounder that brought home Fein, who led off with a base hit to right and quickly advanced on a throwing error by the Triton third baseman Everett Lau and Orr’s sacrifice bunt.

The Aztecs eventually built an 8-2 advantage, as Leonhardt smacked a two-run homer to right in the third and later added a sacrifice fly in the fifth. In addition, Miller and Jarvis aided the Scarlet and Black cause with consecutive doubles in the fourth, while Rudick soon followed with sacrifice fly of his own.

UCSD narrowed the gap in its half of the fifth on Michael Fuhrman’s RBI single and a two-run homer by Brock Kleszcz.

However, SDSU put the game essentially out of reach with a five-run sixth inning after sending nine batters to the plate. Leonhardt drilled an RBI double, while Cruce, Fein and Carrigg contributed run scoring singles.

Despite giving up the trio of Triton runs in the fifth, Leonhardt (1-0) picked up the victory, striking out four while issuing one walk in 2 1/3 innings in relief of starter Aaron Eden, who went the same distance, allowing one earned run on five hits and three walks to go with three strikeouts.

On the flip side, Aren Alvarez (0-1) took the loss after yielding seven runs (four earned) on eight hits in four innings of work.

The Aztecs out-hit the Tritons 15-12 in the game, but the host school squandered numerous opportunities, stranding 17 baserunners. 

San Diego State opens Mountain West play next weekend when it hosts Fresno State for a three-game series March 6-7 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Game 1 box

Game 2 box

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