Stephen Strasburg (9-0) remains unbeaten in SDSU's 4-3 Mountain West Conference win over TCU before 3,072 at Tony Gwynn Stadium, the largest crowd ever to see a college baseball game at the school.
Strasburg struck out 14 and set SDSU single-season and career strikeout records, but also was touched for a three-run homer by the Horned Frogs' Bryan Holaday in the seventh inning that made it 4-3. Strasburg threw 121 pitches over seven innings, allowing four hits with one walk. He now has 135 strikeouts and 13 walks in 70.1 innings pitched this season.
SDSU closer Addison Reed got the game's final four outs, finishing off No. 16-ranked TCU (25-12, 6-4 MWC) for his national-leading 14th save.
SDSU's Brandon Decker led the offense with three hits and three RBI for the No. 19 Aztecs (28-15, 10-6 MWC).
HERE WE GO
1ST INNING — Strasburg comes out firing — striking out Corey Steglich, Taylor Featherston and Matt Carpenter to open the game. That still wasn't enough to get out of the inning, however. Carpenter reached base when the ball bounced high and rolled up the screen behind the plate. Strasburg got Chris Ellington to fly to left field to end the inning. A radar gun in the second row behind the plate gets two pitches at 100 mph in the first inning. He will be consistently 98-99 mph over the next several innings.
SDSU put two runners on with two outs, but Hoelscher got out of it when Cory Vaughn's sharp grounder was gloved by Featherston and turned into a force play at second base. SDSU leadoff hitter Pat Colwell lines a ball off the pitcher to open the bottom of the inning, but Hoelscher takes a few warmup pitches and seems no worse for it.
2ND INNING — Strasburg retires the side in order — getting Matt Curry on strikes. That strikeout is the 305th of Strasburg's career, breaking the SDSU record held by former teammate Bruce Billings.
Hoelscher can't find the strike zone when he returns to the mound, walking Mitch Blackburn (who moves to third on a wild pickoff throw) and Jomel Torres. Easton Gust then parachutes a single into short right-center to bring home Blackburn and make it 1-0. Ryan O'Sullivan strikes out, but then Coldwell walks to load the bases. Brandon Decker's single up the middle plates two, making it 3-0. It should be plenty of support for Strasburg, who hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his previous nine starts this season.
3RD INNING — Three up, three down, with a strikeout of Aaron Schultz mixed in between a couple of line outs.
The Aztecs get a couple of runners aboard, but don't make anything of it.
4TH INNING — Strasburg gets Featherston on strikes again, then gets Carpenter on a soft grounder to second. He took a perfect game into the seventh here against TCU last season. Any chance for perfection was eliminated when Carpenter reached on the first-inning strikeout/wild pitch. A no-hitter was still a possibility tonight before Chris Ellington chopped a one-out single between third and short. Shortstop O'Sullivan gloved the ball deep in the hole but his throw wasn't in time to prevent Ellington from being awarded a single. The inning ended with the next batter, Matt Vern, who became Strasburg's seventh strikeout victim.
Cory Vaughn chases strike three as the Aztecs strand two runners for the fourth straight innings.
5TH INNING — Curry strikes out before Bryan Holaday works a 1-2 count into TCU's first walk of the game. Strasburg then strikes out Jason Coats looking and Schultz swinging for his 10th strikeout of the game. It is the ninth time in 10 games that Strasburg has reached double-digit strikes (he had but six against UC Davis).
6TH INNING — Sterlich fouls off several two-strike pitches before fouling out to Meredith at first. Strasburg then strikes outs Featherston and Carpenter to end the inning. That gives him 12 strikeouts for the game and 133 for the season, tying his single-season record.
Decker singles in another run to make it 4-0. It seems like a huge advantage, but the Aztecs would need every bit of it soon enough.
7TH INNING — Ellington and Vern surprise Strasburg with a pair of singles, but the real shocker comes one out later when Holaday gets ahold of a 3-1 pitch and launches it over the left field wall for a three-run homer to make it 4-3. Strasburg is clearly perturbed with himself as Horned Frogs players circle the bases. He gets a new ball from plate umpire Bill Van Raaphorst, refocuses and then strikes out Coats swinging and Schultz looking to end the inning. The strikeout of Coats breaks his single-season strikeout record, not that it meant much to Strasburg at that point.
SDSU goes down in order in the seventh.
Strasburg is done for the game, with Andrew Leary coming on in relief in the eighth inning.
STRASBURG'S LINE — 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 14 SO
8TH INNING — Leary finds himself in a predicament when TCU puts runners at second and third with one out. But he strikes out Ellington for the second out, then issues an intentional walk to load the bases and hands the ball to closer Addison Reed, who returns the situation to Defcon 1 by striking out pinch hitter Jimmie Pharr to end the inning.
9TH INNING — Reed gets Holaday on a tapper to the mound, then strikes out Coats and Schultz to end the game.
The Stephen Strasburg phenomenon should reach new heights tonight with a record crowd expected at Tony Gwynn Stadium for the junior right-hander's Mountain West Conference start against TCU.
No. 19-ranked SDSU (27-15, MWC 9-6) is in fourth place in conference, just behind New Mexico (11-5) and BYU (10-6). TCU (6-3) is in the mix, although the Horned Frogs have played far fewer games because of a bye and having last weekend's series at Air Force snowed out.
No. 16-ranked TCU is scheduled to send sophomore Sean Hoelscher (2-1, 7.00 ERA) to the mound.
Strasburg (8-0, 1.28 ERA, 121 SO, 12 BB in 3.1 IP) makes his 10th start of the season. He is coming off a 1-0 complete-game victory at New Mexico last week that people were still talking about this week. I saw good story in SDSU's Daily Aztecs the other day that included some choice comments from New Mexico coach Ray Birmingham, who said, in part: “There’s a guy down in San Diego State rumored to be worth $25 million. When he comes down here, we’re going to make him look like 25 bucks.”
All Strasburg did was strike out 14 batters — including the last two of the game with a runner at third base.
After the game, Birmingham was complaining about Strasburg pumping his fist when the game ended.
It's called emotion, Coach.
Strasburg has a chance to reach a couple of SDSU milestones tonight against TCU. He needs just four strikeouts to pass former teammate Bruce Billings (304) for most career strikeouts. Strasburg needs 13Ks to break the single-season record of 133 he set last season.
Strasburg had 14 strikeouts in an 11-5 win at TCU four weeks ago.
The largest crowd ever to see a college game is expected tonight to see what Strasburg has in store.
On Thursday, San Diego State sold out of tickets for regular seating. The school's supply of standing room only and picnic area seats was exhausted today.
Here are the top 10 crowds at Tony Gwynn Stadium:
3,158 — New York Yankees 12, SDSU 3 (March 30, 1998, exhibition)
2,857 — Texas 9, SDSU 3 (Feb. 4, 2005)
2,353 — Texas 13, SDSU 5 (Feb. 5, 2005)
2,102 — SDSU 4, UNLV 3 (March 13, 2009)
2,032 — BYU 4, SDSU 2 (March 20, 2009)
1,788 — Utah 2, SDSU 1 (Apr. 27, 2002)
1,549 — SDSU 6, Utah 5 (Apr. 28, 2002)
1,509 — USD 8, SDSU 4 (Apr. 15, 2003)
1,507 — SDSU 5, UC Riverside 4 (Feb. 5, 2002)
1,491 — SDSU 7, Fresno State 4 (May 15, 1997)
1,446 — SDSU 5, New Mexico 3 (May 3, 1997)