San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg is overshadowed by the Aztecs' offense, which collects 14 runs on 15 hits in a 14-0 victory over UC Davis at the Padres' Petco Park. SDSU catcher Erik Castro leads the Aztecs with two home runs and six RBI. Teammate Ryan O'Sullivan also homers for the Aztecs (20-10).
Strasburg (6-0) fails to register double-digit strikeouts for the first time in seven starts, getting but six Ks against the Aggies, who seem content to shorten their swings and just try to make contact to avoid strikeouts. The junior right-hander allows three hits and walks two over six shutout innings. Strasburg now has 94 strikeouts and 10 walks in 48.1 innings this season.
San Diego State opens a four-game series this weekend with a special venue for today's first game — Petco Park.
SDSU ace Stephen Strasburg (5-0) will be on the mound for the No. 21-ranked Aztecs (19-10), who have the week off from Mountain West Conference play. UC Davis sends freshman David Popkins to the mound. It is the first collegiate start for Popkins, who prep about five miles from Petco at St. Augustine High.
Here's a story I did today in the Union-Tribune leading into the game.
Following the game, the Padres play the Angels at 7:05 p.m. in an exhibition game.
Also, the MWC announced its 10th Anniversary baseball team and Strasburg was the only active member of the 13-man squad. SDSU had five players selected — closer Royce Ring, shortstop Taber Lee, third baseman Nick Romero and outfielder Anthny Gwynn.
Padres GM Kevin Towers is sitting in the fourth row on the field level adjacent to scouting director Chief Gayton. They are all but drooling, and it isn't in anicipation of fish tacos being delivered to their seats. They have the nation's No. 1 prospect on their mound — a guy who could probably step in as the Padres' No. 3 starter when the season opens next week — but know they'll likely never have a chance to draft him, even though they possess the third pick.
Before the game, Towers says: What amazes me is this guy added 10 mph (between his freshman and sophomore years). When guys gain 10 mph, they usually lose command, and this guy kept it."
Towers also commented on a cut fastball that approaches 100 mph, saying: "I haven't seen somebody throw that hard with movement on a baseball (the way Strasburg does). This guy sits at 96, 97, 98. Hard to believe he sits at that all the time and has command of the pitch. I can't remember anybody ever doing that."
HERE WE GO
1ST INNING — Strasburg shows an unusual lack of command early on, going 3-2 to two of the first three hitters. Leadoff hitter Daniel Cepin gets an infield single that SDSU shortstop Ryan O'Sullivan can't make a play on. Cepin is sacrificed to second, then Strasburg walks Ty Kelly. Tony Bongiovanni is Strasburg's first strikeout victim of the game. He gets out of the inning a batter later when Ryan Scoma hits into a fielder's choice. The scoreboard radar gun doesn't register the first 10 pitches or so, but Strasburg hits 96, 97, 98, 99 on several pithes thereafter. Strasburg needs 22 pitches to get out of the inning.
The Aztecs get going right away, cashing in walks to Pat Colwell and Brandon Meredith. Catcher Erik Castro singled in the first run and Mitch Blackburn brought home the other with a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
2ND INNING — Strasburg has a 1-2-3 inning, but UC Davis puts the ball in play each time.
3RD INNING — Another 1-2-3 inning, and again the Aggies get the bat on the ball each time. One strikeout in three innings is something of a moral victory. UC Davis hitters are taking half swings, just trying to make contact. SDSU does more damage against Popkins, getting making it 4-0 when Brandon Meredith scores on a wild pitch and Cory Vaughn comes home on an infield out.
4TH INNING — UC Davis gets leadoff hitter Ty Kelly on when O'Sullivan juggles a grounder at shortstop. Strasburg strikes out the next two hitters, however. After issuing a walk to Grant Hirneise, followed by a wild pitch, Strasburg strands runners at second and third when he freezes Joseph Medeiros for a called strike three that ends the inning.
SDSU boosts its lead to 9-0 with a five-run fourth inning highlighted by Erik Castro's three-run homer to right field.
5TH INNING — UC Davis left fielder Rikki Foster leads off with a single to left for the team's second hit (and first one to leave the infield). Foster is forced at second a few moments later and Strasburg then gets out of the inning with a double play grounder. He isn't dominating in his customary fashion — racking up the strikeouts — but he is pitching effectively. You just know after the game some reporter will ask him what was wrong. All he's done is allowed two singles through five shutout innings. Strasburg has thrown 74 pitches now.
The story of the game shifts from Strasburg to his catcher, Castro, who homers again, this one a two-run shot off UC Davis reiever Tim Busbin that lands in the beach sand beyond the 400-foot fence in right-center. That gives Castro six RBI for the game.
6TH INNING — Strasburg hits leadoff batter Grant Bauer with a pitch, strikes out Kelly, allows a single to right to Bongliavanni, strikes out Scoma looking and gets out of the inning when Hirneise grounds out to third base. He has thrown about 90 pitches and is probably done for the day with the Aztecs leading 11-0.
STRASBRG's LINE: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 SO in 93-pitch outing. It is the first time in seven starts this season that Strasburg did not strike out at least 11 hitters. He now has 94 strikeouts and 10 walks in 48. 1 IP.
7TH INNING — Reliever John Pecoraro replaces Strasburg and sandwiches two strikeouts between two singles and a walk. Pecoraro gets out of the inning with a routine 9-3-5-4-2 out.
The Aztecs make it 13-0 on Matt Skipper's RBI double and an error by UC Davis first baseman Grant Hirneise on a hard-hit ball by Zach Babitt.
8TH INNING — SDSU's James McLaughlin comes in and retires the Aggies in order.
Ryan O'Sullivan clubs SDSU's third homer of the game, a solo shot to left field off UC Davis' Will Chapman that makes it 14-0. It is O'Sullivan's first career home run.
9TH INNING — George Snyder comes on and retires the Aggies in order to end the game.