Friday, March 1, 2013

Aztecs beat Seton Hall 4-3 on Haynal's hit (by pitch)

SDSU players sing the fight song following victory over Seton Hall.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The Aztecs sing the school's fight song in front of their dugout after each home victory. The team's first opportunity to do so this year came Friday night after DH Brad Haynal was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning, forcing home the winning run in SDSU's 4-3 victory over Seton Hall at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

SDSU (5-5) began the winning rally against Seton Hall (0-6) when Greg Allen opened the inning with a single to left field. Teammate Tim Zier followed with a single to right to put runners at the corners, so the Pirates intentionally walked John Spirk to load the bases. Haynal took it from there, taking one for the team from Pirates pitcher Brian Gilbert (0-2).

Freshman closer Bubba Derby (1-0) picked up his first collegiate victory. Derby had to work for it. In the ninth, he stranded runners at second and third when he struck out Seton Hall's Tyler Boyd to end the inning. An inning earlier, Derby had to give a tip of the cap to Allen, threw out Seton Hall's Kyle Grimm at the plate to prevent the Pirates from taking the lead.

It was senior first baseman Spirk, making the most of his opportunity to start, who sparked the Aztecs in the early going. Spirk drove in the Aztecs' first two runs with an infield single in the first inning and a sacrifice fly to center field in the third.

It wasn't as if Spirk was going to be buried on the bench this season, but it is safe to say his playing time was going to be limited. Then sophomore Ryan Muno, the Aztecs' starter at first base coming into the year, suffered a broken right hand one week into the season. That pressed Spirk into service, in a platoon with teammate Mitch Blumen. Spirk has responded by going 6-for-17 (.353) over the past seven games.

Seton Hall made it 2-1 with a run in the fifth, but the Aztecs got that back in the sixth when Allen singled home a run to make it 3-1.

SDSU starting pitcher Michael Cederoth was cruising at that point, but his pitches were adding up and he came out of the game with one out in the seventh. Seton Hall rallied for two runs after Cederoth departed to make it 3-3.

Reliever Mike RoBards walked the first two hitters he faced in the seventh to load the bases. RoBards got a strikeout for the inning's second out, then was replaced by teammate Ethan Miller, who allowed a run-scoring single and a walk that forced in another run.

Cederoth allowed five hits, was charged with two earned runs, struck out six and walked four in 6.1 innings. Derby allowed three hits in his two innings, with a walk and a strikeout.

Allen boosted his team-leading batting average to .372 with three hits. He also scored three runs and stole two bases.

The teams continue the three-game series Saturday at 1 p.m. at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Junior right-hander Philip Walby is the scheduled starter for SDSU.

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