March 4, 2012
SAN DIEGO - Cal State Northridge score three runs on no hits in the top of the eighth to erase a three-run deficit, but San Diego State answered with six in the same inning and went on to defeat the Matadors, 12-9, in the finale of the 2012 Aztec Invitational presented by Sheraton Mission Valley Sunday evening at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
The win was the fourth in a row for the Aztecs, who claimed the tourney title with a perfect 4-0 record as they finished as the only undefeated team during the dour-day event. SDSU improved to 7-6 on the year with the victory while CSUN dropped to 6-6.
The eighth inning began with SDSU holding a 6-3 lead after it scored three times in the fourth, twice in the fifth and once in the sixth. After starter TJ Kendzora limited the Matadors to three runs on just three hits with four walks and five strikeouts over the first six innings, he was lifted in favor of senior right-hander Mike Hachadorian to begin the top of the seventh.
Hachadorian breezed through the seventh, but caused problems for himself in the top of the eighth by walking the first three batters he faced before giving way to Adam Anawalt. The freshman fared little better as he surrendered a bases-load walk before a pair of sacrifice flies knotted the game at 6-6.
San Diego State, however, would answer in the bottom of the innings as the pitching control problems seemed contagious. Northridge reliever Harley Holt began the frame by walking Evan Potter and hitting Greg Allen. That brought Cole Hallum in from the bullpen, but he proceeded to walk Matt Muñoz before hitting Cody Smith to give the Aztecs a 7-6 lead.
The scoring was far from over, however, as pinch hitter Cody Slader delivered a two-run single to left field to drive home Allen and Muñoz. Spencer Thornton's sacrifice bunt was then thrown away by the Matador first baseman attempting to get the force at third. Smith scored on the play with Slader advancing to third. A single by Jake Romanski scored Slader and put runners on first and third, still with no outs. Steven Pallares then ground into a double play with Thornton scoring the final run of the inning to give the Aztecs a 12-6 lead.
But the drama wasn't done as Northridge would mount a rally in the final frame and finish the contest with the tying run at the plate. Anawalt gave up a pair of singles to open the frame before freshman lefty Mike RoBards was brought on in relief. After getting two outs, Robards gave up an opposite-field home run to CSUN's Miles Williams to close the gap the 12-9.
After a single by the ensuing hitter, the Aztecs summoned Ethan Miller from the pen, but he immediately gave up another single to put runners at first and second and bring the potential tying run to the plate. Miller then got the final out on a grounder to short to nail down the victory. That made a winner of Anawalt, who evened his record at 1-1 while Miller recorded his second save of the year. The loss went to Harley Holt (0-1).
Three Aztecs were named to the all-tournament team at the conclusion of Sunday night's contest. That trio included second baseman Matt Munoz, center fielder Cody Smith and designated hitter Spencer Thornton. Munoz, who hit .571 with a double, triple and six runs scored, was selected the tourney MVP.
Eleven different Aztec recorded hits on the night with catcher Seby Zavala leading the way with two. All 12 of SDSU's hits were singles.
Up next for San Diego State is a short trip north to take on Long Beach State on Tuesday, March 4, at 6:30 p.m. at Blair Field.