Baseball takes second at Tony Gwynn Classic


infield drills

Head coach Rich Hill instructs his infielders, including sophomore Bryson Brigman (far left) during a preseason drill at Fowler Park earlier this year. Photo Courtesy of USD Athletics/YouTube

The 1st annual Tony Gwynn Classic was held this weekend in San Diego. Honoring San Diego State Aztec alumnus and Mr. Padre, the tournament combines San Diego’s collegiate baseball teams to honor Gwynn.

Freshman outfielder Kevin Collard, a native of nearby Vista, was honored to be able to participate in a tournament named after the local legend.

“I loved playing in the [Tony Gwynn] Classic!” Collard said. “Being a Padre fan my whole life, Tony Gwynn has always been my idol and it was an honor playing for him this weekend.”

Bringing in eight different teams, the tournament was played at both Tony Gwynn Stadium at San Diego State University and at our very own Fowler Park.

Several top 25 teams traveled across the states to play in this inaugural series.

The Toreros kicked off the weekend with a home opener against the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Toreros were hitting every ball that was thrown their way, filling the bases and bringing in multiple runs. Most notably, Collard slammed a home run out over the left field wall, bringing in three runs.

Collard’s long ball not only got his team on the board, but it was also a special moment for him that could jumpstart his USD career.

“It was actually my first hit of the season and first at bat playing at Fowler Park!” Collard said. “It was awesome because my parents were there to witness it.”

The score stood at 8-0 after the first inning with the University of San Diego in the lead. Nebraska was unable to react, and USD scored another run in the third inning, and four more in the fifth.

The Cornhuskers came back to score two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings, and one more in the top of the eighth bringing the score to 13-5.

The Toreros tacked four more runs on the board during the bottom of the eighth. Nebraska was unable to keep up with the high intensity hitting, bringing the final score of the game to be 17-5, Toreros.

Saturday evening the Toreros faced the Tulane University Green Wave at home in Fowler Park; the Green Wave took the win Friday afternoon against University of Arizona Wildcats with an 11-10 win.

Tulane started off the game with a solo home run to right field, starting the score at 1-0. In the bottom of the second inning, the Toreros came back with a walk, single, and sacrifice bunt to bring a runner home.

Collard, freshman outfielder Connor Doyle, and freshman infielder Jeff Houghtby all hit singles to put three more runs on the board, putting the Toreros in the lead, 4-1.

Tulane came back with one more run in the third inning, and USD responded with two in the bottom of the fifth and another in the seventh inning.

Heading into the eighth inning with a score at 7-2, the Green Wave put three runs up on the board after the Toreros made a pitching change. After pitching an inning, junior Nathan Kuchta was replaced by sophomore Jonathan Teaney, who was later replaced that inning by senior Jacob Hill.

Tulane brought the score to 7-5, and the Toreros were unable to respond in the inning. Again, Tulane was able to put up one more run, bringing the score to 7-6, but they ultimately fell short of tying the Torero lead.

With this win, the Toreros claimed a seat in the championship game against the University of California, Santa Barbara Gauchos.

Sunday morning, the Toreros went across town to play in the championship game against UCSB at Tony Gwynn Stadium on the San Diego State campus.

The Gauchos came in with two previous wins, an 11-4 win over the University of Kentucky Wildcats and a 16-2 win over the Bryant University Bulldogs.

The Gauchos started the game with an early one-run lead, before USD put two on the board in the bottom of the second inning.

The Gauchos were able to retaliate with three runs in the fourth and fifth innings, and again with a single run in both the seventh and eighth innings.

The Toreros were able to put up one more run in the seventh inning, but were ultimately unable to meet the Gaucho’s spread. The Gauchos won the championship game with a final score of 9-3, ending the Torero’s three-game winning streak.

Freshman infielder Brhet Bewley saw the tournament as a great experience despite the fact that the Toreros fell short of the championship.

“Playing in the Classic was a real treat, there’s great competition with a great atmosphere and we got to play it in the beautiful city of San Diego,” Bewley said. “It really gives great recognition to Tony Gwynn, a hometown hero.”

With high intensity and high scoring games, the inaugural Tony Gwynn Classic was a memorable tournament. The Toreros proved to be strong contenders in the WCC this season with strong players in all areas.