San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg strikes out 14 batters over eight innings — his sixth double-digit strikeout game in six starts — and allows three hits and two runs (both earned) on a windy night in Fort Worth, Texas, with temperatures in the 40s. The Aztecs' offense pounds out 17 hits and the result is an 11-5 Mountain West Conference victory at TCU.
SDSU (17-8, 5-2) and TCU (14-8, 2-2) continue the three-game series with games Saturday and Sunday.
Strasburg (5-0) allows a wind-aided leadoff homer by TCU's Ben Carruthers, then retires 14 batters in a row, 10 of them by strikeout. By the way, Strasburg began the season ranked No. 15 on SDSU's career strikeout list with 180. He has 88 strikeouts for the season )with just 8 walks), giving him 268 career strikeouts. That ranks third in school history, behind only Bruce Billings (304) and Rick Navarro (299).
Strasburg's next scheduled start is Friday, April 3, against UC Davis in a game to be played at Petco Park. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. An exhibition game between the Padres and Angels will follow, in case anyone wants to stick around.
Leadership of the Mountain West Conference is at stake this weekend with San Diego State (16-8, 4-2) visiting No. 16-ranked TCU (14-7, 2-1), which has won the MWC regular season and tournament titles three straight years since moving over from Conference USA. TCU took two of three from the Aztecs last year at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
SDSU sends junior right-hander Stephen Strasurg (4-0) to the mound. Strasburg pitched seven shutout innings last week against BYU, in a game the Cougars came back to win after Strasburg departed. For the season, Strasburg has a 1.57 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 34.1 innings.
Strasburg had one of his best outings of the season last year against TCU, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning at Tony Gwynn Stadium before TCU's Ben Carruthers hit a double for what would be the Horned Frogs' only hit in the game. Strasburg went the distance in a 4-1 win, walking one with 13 strikeouts.
The blog will follow this game from a distance, using our extensive network of information sources to make it seem like we're there.
HERE WE GO
1ST INNING — The Aztecs stake Strasburg to a 3-0 lead before he ever takes the mound. SDSU catcher Erik Castro's three-run homer off TCU starting Tyler Lockwood provides the runs. Ben Carruthers shocks Strasburg with a leadoff homer for the Horned Frogs. It is only the third collegiate home run allowed by Strasburg and, as noted above, comes from a player who has been somewhat of a thorn in the pitcher's side. Strasburg shrugs off the HR and gets three straight outs, the last two on strikeouts.
2ND INNING — Strasburg retires the side in order, getting TCU's Taylor Featherston and Matt Vern on strikeouts.
3RD INNING — Castro hits a one-out double for SDSU, putting him halfway to the cycle (note: Castro does not have a triple in his collegiate career), but the Aztecs can't get him home. Strasburg picks up where he left off in the second, getting TCU's Jimmie Pharr and Corey Steglich and that pesky Carruthers all on strikeouts. That's seven of the first nine outs recorded on strikeouts.
4TH INNING — Mitch Blackburn's leadoff double is cashed in one-out later on Pat Colwell's sacrifice bunt, giving the Aztecs a 4-1 lead. When Strasburg returns, he gets Matt Carpenter on a tapper back to the mound, then strikes out Chris Ellington and gets Matt Curry on a flyout to end the inning.
5TH INNING — Castro doubles again, giving him three hits in three plate appearances. Cory Vaughn follows with a two-run homer, putting the Aztecs up 6-1. Strasburg strikes out the side again, getting Featherston, Vern and Pharr all swinging. That gives Strasburg 11 strikeouts for the game and a sixth dougle-digit strikeout performance in six starts. At this point, Carpenter and Bryan Holaday are the only two TCU starters who have avoided striking out.
6TH INNING — Brandon Meredith makes it 7-1 when he is hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force home a run. TCU scraped together a run on a leadoff double by Steglich and a couple of infield outs, but the most notable thing about the inning is it concluded without any strikeouts by the Horned Frogs.
7TH INNING — Brandon Decker drives in teammate Easton Gust on a fielder's choice to make it 8-2. In the bottom of the inning, a leadoff walk to Curry didn't amount to anything when an infield out, strikeout and fly out followed.
8TH INNING — Chris Wilson slams a one-out homer. Three more hits and a TCU error — the Horned Frogs' fourth of the game — follow as the Aztecs stretch their lead to 11-2. The only question now is how deep Strasburg goes. BYU rallied for a 4-2 win after he departed last week. Such a rally seems rather unlikely tonight by TCU, but it is college baseball and stranger things have happen. Strasburg runs back out and immediately gets Pharr and Steglich swinging at strike three. Carruthers hits an infield popup to end the inning.
9TH INNING — Castro gets a single for his fourth hit of the game, lacking — you guessed it! — a triple in his bid for the cycle. It is SDSU's 17th and final hit of the game. Chase Thomas replaces Strasburg and allows three runs with two outs before James McLaughlin comes on to get the final out in the Aztecs' 11-5 win.
STRASBURG's LINE — 8 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 14 SO. Strasburg (5-0) now has 88 SO/8 BB in 42.1 IP and a 1.70 ERA.