IRVINE — Junior right-hander Tyler Lavigne kept San Diego State’s NCAA Regional hopes alive today, pitching the Aztecs to a 4-1 victory over Fresno State that eliminated the defending national champions from the tournament.
Lavigne said he was still feeling the effects of starting two games in four days at last week's Mountain West Conference Tournament.
“I knew I didn’t have my best stuff and I was going to have to locate better,” said Lavigne, who didn’t have the velocity on his pitches that he normally does. There was an upside, however. “Throwing slower helped my sinker move more,” said Lavigne. “I tried as much as possible to pound the strike zone and get ground balls.”
Lavigne (8-2) limited the Bulldogs to five hits and one unearned run over 7 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts at UC Irvine’s Anteater Ballpark. SDSU closer Addison Reed came on to get the final four outs, recording his nation-leading 20th save in 20 opportunities.
SDSU (41-22) will play top-ranked UC Irvine on Sunday in an elimination game at 4 p.m. The winner there stays on the field for an 8 p.m. game against Virginia. The Cavaliers defeated UC Irvine 5-0 in tonight's late game and need just one more victory to win the regional. A loss on Sunday night would force a winner-take-all game on Monday night.
SDSU freshman first baseman Brandon Meredith, who struck out four times in Friday’s game against Virginia, sparked the Aztecs offense, hitting a two-run home run in the first inning and a solo homer in the fifth off Fresno State starting pitcher Matt Morse (4-3). That staked SDSU to a 3-1 lead and the Aztecs added another run in the fifth on a wild pitch.
“It comes down to putting the ball in play and seeing what happens,” Meredith said after putting two balls out of play.
Fresno State (32-30) managed its only run with two outs in the fourth inning when SDSU center fielder Pat Colwell dove for Kenny Wise’s sinking liner and let the ball get past him for a triple that scored Brennan Gowens.
Lavigne allowed only two other runners as far as second base, leaving with two outs in the eighth inning to a rousing ovation from a crowd of some 2,000 fans.
Reed came on and retired all four hitters he faced, ending the game with a strikeout that gave SDSU its first postseason victory since 1990.
“It’s a good win for us,” said SDSU coach Tony Gwynn. “It kind of takes the edge off (Friday’s loss). Today, I thought we played a lot more relaxed.
“Bottom line is we got a W and we get to play tomorrow. The guys are pretty excited about that.”