Stephen Strasburg strikes out 15 in seven shutout innings, but BYU gets the best of the SDSU bullpen in a 4-2 Mountain West Conference win over the Aztecs at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Strasburg's fastball touches triple digits, but sits mostly in the 97-99 mph range as he reaches double-digit strikeouts for the fifth time in five starts this season. The Cougars (13-7, 4-1 MWC) scores three runs in the eighth off SDSU reliever Andrew Leary on the way to their second straight win in the series against the Aztecs (13-8, 3-2).
San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg (4-0, 1.98 ERA) makes his fifth start of the season, facing BYU in the second game of the Mountain West Conference series at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Strasburg has 59 strikeouts (11 vs. Bethune Cookman, 16 vs. Nevada, 18 vs. USD, 14 vs. UNLV) in 27 1/3 innings this season. Right-hander Blake Torgerson () goes for the Cougars, who won last night's game 6-2.
SDSU (13-7, 3-1 MWC) and BYU (12-7, 3-1) are tied in the MWC standings.
SDSU hosts a student tailgate on the field adjacent to the ballpark and 1,100 students show up. Don't know if it is the free food or free Strasburg T-shirts that brings them out. School officials are happy either way, especially when more than half of the students walk through the gates to cheer on the Aztecs.
The students help pack the stands, producing a crowd that rivals the 2,102 (third all-time) that attended last week's game against UNLV. The gathering is particularly impressive given that the SDSU men's basketbll team is playing simultaneously in an NIT game at USD's Jenny Craig Pavilion.
HERE WE GO
1ST INNING — Strasburg comes out strong, striking out the side. BYU's Kent Walton and Andrew Law are caught looking at strike three. At least Sean McNaughton gets the bat off his shoulder, swinging late on strike three. The Aztecs get two hits, but leave runners at first and third.
2ND INNING — Strasburg sandwiches strikeouts around a fly to left field by BYU's Brandon Relf. SDSU doesn't make anything out of Chri Wilson's leadoff single.
3RD INNING — Kasey Ko leads off the third with a fly to left, then Strasburg gets two more strikeouts. That's seven for those keeping track at home (and the guy at the right-field railing who puts up a big K with each strikeout). The Aztecs get another leadoff single, by Pat Colwell, but nothing comes of it.
4TH INNING — Walton leads off with a single, giving BYU its first base runner, but Strasburg gets a strikeout and two groundouts to get out of the inning. SDSU gets a two-out single from Mitch Blackburn, but nothing else.
5TH INNING — Strasburg strikeouts out the side for the second time, giving him 11 strikeouts for the game. That's makes him 5-for-5 this season in double-digit strikeout performances. Kasey Ko, the only player in the BYU lineup who has avoided striking out, coaxes a two-out walk before Strasburg strikes out Chad Nacapoy to end the inning. The Aztecs threatened again. With one out, Colwell is hit by a pitch and Brandon Decker follows with a single to right field. Colwell moves to third when BYU right fielder Michael Bowen juggles the ball. Brandon Meredith then hits his third fly to right field of the game. This one brings Colwell home from third to make it 1-0. Another run comes home when Erik Castro's two-out fly ball to center field is lost in the lights by BYU's Stetson Banks.
6TH INNING — BYU actually gets something going when Walton gets a one-out walk and Law follows with a single to put runners at first and third. But Strasburg puts three straight strikes past McNaughton for the second out. The next batter, Steve Parker, watches a pretty good 1-1 pitch that home plate umpire Dale Luker calls a ball. The next pitch doesn't look as good, but Luker calls it a strike (makeup for a previous transgression?) and Parker mumbles a few words to the umpire, before he looks at strike three. Parker chips some more at Luker, who chases him back to the dugout. It is the third time Strasburg has struck out the side in six innings. He now has 14 strikeouts for the game.
7TH INNING — Strasburg gets Relf looking at strike three to open the inning before Bowen grounds to second for the second out. Strasburg throws a ball on the first pitch to Ko, then an SDSU trainer jogs out with pitching coach Rusty Filter following behind. Strasburg appears to be fine, finishing out the inning with Ko flying out to left field. Ko is the only hitter in BYU's lineup who avoids striking out. That makes Ko one of only two players — Nevada first baseman Shaun Kort is the other — to avoid striking out among the 45 starters Strasburg has faced this season. The crowd won't realize it until the eighth inning, but Strasburg's night is done.
STRASBURG'S LINE: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 15 SO. His ERA drops to 1.57 with the seven shutout innings. His fastball touches triple digits, but is clocked mainly in the 97-99 mph range.
8TH INNING — Right-hander Andrew Leary relieves Strasburg. And BYU rallies. The Cougars collect four hits and three runs off Leary, costing Strasburg an opportunity for his fifth straight victory. BYU gets the go-aead run when McNaughton scores all the way from first on a single to center by Parker. McNaughton was running on the play, but the Aztecs still seemed caught off guard when he was waved home to make it 3-2. The Aztecs squandered an opportunity to tie the score, leaving runners at the corners.
9TH INNING — BYU scores an insurance run, making it 4-2.