Toreros fall to Aztecs in historic season opener

By Hunter Jameson

The Torero baseball team opened up its 2013 campaign against cross-town rival in the San Diego State University Aztecs.

After months of construction and hard work, Fowler Park was unveiled to the players and fans of San Diego USD baseball. Turner Construction Company finished this $13.8 million gem just before the opening game, giving one of the nation’s top collegiate baseball programs a stadium worthy of its prestige.

A special ceremony was held for University of San Diego USD legend John Cunningham. Cunningham has been a member of the Torero family since 1962, serving as whether as baseball coach, basketball coach, intramurals director and other positions for USD.

The foundation of his legacy is based in the 35 years he spent as a baseball coach for the Toreros. As coach, Cunningham led the program to its respected position as a national contender in college baseball. His number 33 was retired before the start of the game. This marks the first number retired in the history of USD Athletics.

Opening night was something special, with the smell of garlic fries in the air, a sold out crowd of 1,921 fans, and electricity in both dugouts, baseball season had finally arrived. With major league talented pitchers on both sides, many scouts could be seen in the stands.

Junior pitcher Dylan Covey of the Toreros and sophomore pitcher Michael Cederoth of the Aztecs each pose a challenge for opposing hitters. The two starters can throw in the high 90s, with Cederoth even hitting 101 mph at one point.

The bats came ready for the Aztecs, compiling eight runs on 14 hits. Junior second baseman Tim Zier led the way with three hits and 3 RBI’s. Junior shortstop Logan Davis had three hits for the Toreros, but the Aztecs pitching staff was very efficient in their 8-1 victory.

On Saturday night, the Toreros got a chance at redemption with junior all-American Michael Wagner on the mound. The Aztecs had another hard throwing right-hander in junior Philip Walby on the mound. Wagner pitched six innings and gave up just three runs while Walby left after three and one third innings, giving up one run.

Tension rose in the ninth inning as the Toreros had runners on second and third base and down 4-2 with no outs, but freshman closer Bubba Derby was able to seal the win for the Aztecs.

Sunday’s game concluded the series, with the Toreros wearing their new blue camouflage jerseys for the first time this season. Over 1,900 fans were had the opportunity to listen to the Marine Party Band before the game.

The Aztecs scored early on Zier’s two-run single in the third inning off of the Torero’s junior starter Max McNabb. McNabb went five innings, giving up three earned runs.

Freshman pitcher PJ Conlon and sophomore pitcher Max Homick held the Aztecs scoreless through the final four innings. Senior left fielder Lucas Hagberg had two hits and one RBI.

The Aztecs were able to complete the sweep this weekend with a 5-3 victory. Senior pitcher Ryan Doran was credited the win for the Aztecs while Derby picked up his second save of the series.

With the new season underway, the Toreros will look to get their first win of the season as they begin a four game series against the Kent State Universtity Golden Flashes at Fowler Park, starting Feb. 22.