San Diego State junior right-hander Stephen Strasburg continued a season for the ages tonight, notching his 10th victory in the Aztecs' 5-0 victory at Santa Clara.
Strasburg (10-0) became the 14th pitcher in SDSU history to reach double-digit victories and the first since the 1990 season. He pitched eight strong innings, allowing three hits with 12 strikeouts and two walks. He threw 105 pitches, according to SDSU play-by-play man Craig Elsten. Strasburg, who lowered his ERA to 1.38, now has 147 strikeouts with 15 walks over 78.1 innings pitched this season.
By the way, the crowd of 1,496 that came out for the game was a record at Santa Clara's Stephen Schott Stadium.
SDSU second baseman Mitch Blackburn led the Aztecs with two RBI. Teammate Erik Castro had three of the team's 12 hits, raising his season average to .389.
SDSU (29-17) and Santa Clara (15-26) continue the four-game series on Saturday with a doubleheader and conclude it with a single game on Sunday.
HERE WE GO
1ST INNING — A two-out single by Brandon Meredith and a walk to Erik Castro put runners at first and second, but Santa Clara starter Nate Garcia gets out of it by getting Cory Vaughn on a fly out. Strasburg gets started quickly, striking out Matt Long and Kevin Madden swinging. He then hits Jon Karcich with a pitch before retiring Geoff Klein on a fly to left to end the inning.
2ND INNING — The Aztecs again get runners to first and second, this time with one out, but Garcia escapes again by getting Ryan O'Sullivan on a fly out and Pat Colwell with a strikeout. Strasburg gets Brady Fuerst swining to open the inning and closes it by getting Long swinging. In between he issues two walks — what would be his only walks of the game — but the Broncos can't do anything with this brief bit of wildness.
3RD INNING — A Brandon Decker walk, Meredith single and Castro walk load the bases with no outs. Garcia won't escape unscatched this time as singles by Blackburn and Jomel Torres produce a 2-0 lead. Madden opens the bottom of the inning with a single against Strasburg, who erases him a moment later with a grounder that SDSU's defense turns into a double play. The inning ends a batter later with Klein looking at strike three.
4TH INNING — Garcia gets the Aztecs in order and Strasburg does likewise to the Broncos, getting Andrew Biancardi with a swinging strikeout.
5TH INNING — RBIs by Vaughn, Blackburn and East Gust provide a three-run inning and a 5-0 lead that seems all but insurmountable with you-know-who on the mound. Strasburg underscores the point in the bottom of the inning by striking out the side.
6TH INNING — Garcia doesn't allow a run, but the damage has been done. Madden reaches on an error to open the inning for Santa Clara but Strasburg pays him no mind, getting the Broncos with a flyout, a strikeout and a popout. Klein is the strikeout victim, Strasburg's 10th of the game. It is his 10th double-digit strikeout performance in 11 starts this season.
7TH INNING — Both sides go down in order — Strasburg ending the inning with a strikeout of Kyle Van Dusen.
8TH INNING — Santa Clara reliever Cory Hall takes over for Garcia and quickly retires the Aztecs. Strasburg opens his final inning with a strikeout of Juan Parra and faces the minimum for the sixth time in eight innings.
STRASBURG'S LINE: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 12 SO
9TH INNING — Castro gets his third hit of the game, but never gets past first base. Andrew Leary relieves Strasburg and closes out the Broncos. Leary sandwiches two strikeouts around a single by Klein, then gets Biancardi on a grounder to third base to end the game.
San Diego State gets the week off from Mountain West Conference play, but the Aztecs face an important weekend nonetheless with a four-game series at Santa Clara.
SDSU (28-17) has 11 games remaining in the regular season and needs to secure as many victories as possible down the stretch to position the Aztecs for an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament should the team fail to win the MWC Tournament and the automatic postseason berth that comes with it.
Santa Clara (15-25) has struggled this season, so the Aztecs can ill-afford to give any ground against the Broncos. SDSU needs three wins this weekend. AT LEAST THREE WINS. SDSU comes into the weekend with an RPI of 27. But that's going to take a hit with Santa Clara (186), Air Force (268) and Utah (131) to close out the regular season. The Aztecs can't control how much their RPI slips, other than to win and let everything else take care of itself.
SDSU ace Stephen Strasburg (9-0, 1.54 ERA) takes the mound tonight looking for his 10th straight victory. Strasburg has 135 strikeouts on the season with just 13 walks over 70.1 innings.
Santa Clara dealt Strasburg one of his three losses last season, although shoddy defense behind the right-hander was mainly responsible for the Aztecs' 10-6 loss. Strasburg struck out nine and walked one over 5.1 innings against the Broncos. He allowed seven hits and seven runs, although only two of the runs were earned. It was only his third career start. Strasburg has improved some since then.