April 11, 2008
SAN DIEGO - San Diego State sophomore right-hander Stephen Strasburg etched his name in the record books as he struck out 23 batters in the Aztecs' 1-0 win over Utah Friday evening at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Strasburg set both the SDSU and Mountain West Conference marks for strikeouts in a game as he allowed only four base runners on the night, none of which passed second base.
The win improved the Aztecs to 19-15 overall as they maintained a hold on first place in the league standings at 7-3. The Utes, meanwhile, fell to 13-15 on the season and 3-3 in conference play.
Strasburg's effort shattered the San Diego State record of 18 K's set by John Hemmerly against Colorado State during the 1988 season. He also established a new MWC standard, breaking the record of former Aztec Marcos Mendoza, who struck out 17 hitters against New Mexico in 2001.
Strasburg's performance almost went for naught as the SDSU offense was held in check by Utah starting hurler Stephen Fife (4-3), who pitched into the seventh inning but would eventually be tagged with the loss.
The Aztecs had their chances, getting a runner to third base with two outs in the first, third and fifth innings. They had a golden opportunity in the sixth, putting men on first and third with no outs, but again they came up empty.
The breakthrough came in the bottom of the seventh when SDSU loaded the bases with a one-out on a single by Erik Castro, walk to Brandon Decker and hit by pitch to Pat Colwell. Troy Hanzawa then hit a grounder to third, but when DC Legg's throw to the plate sailed past the catcher, Castro scored the unearned run. It was cruel fate for Fife, who ended his night after 6.2 innings in which he allowed the lone run on five hits while striking out four.
However, the night belonged to Strasburg (4-1), who did not allow a base runner until the fourth inning with a base on balls to Corey Shimada. After Shimada was caught stealing, Strasburg got 16 of the Utes' final 17 outs via the strikeout with the other coming on a sacrifice bunt in the final frame. Utah's lone hit of the contest was a chopper by Michael Beltran that got through the middle of the diamond in the sixth.
The Aztecs and Utes will continue their weekend series on Saturday (April 12) with a contests schedule for a 1:00 p.m. (PDT) start at San Diego State.