Air Force and San Diego State split a Mountain West Conference baseball doubleheader Saturday, April 7, at the Academy's Falcon Field. Air Force won the first game, 6-2, while SDSU won the second game, 19-1.
The first game was the completion of Friday's game, which was suspended due to rain and wind. The game resumed in the top of the third inning with no score. Air Force rode the strong pitching of junior Matt Kaercher to a 6-2 victory. Kaercher started the game on Friday and then continued to pitch Saturday. He went all nine innings and gave up just two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts and only one walk. SDSU's Sean Pierce hit a solo home run in the top of the fifth for a 1-0 lead. The Aztecs took a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth as Anthony Gwynn walked and then scored on Darrell Bowles' double. After Bowles' double, Kaercher retired 10 of the next 11 Aztecs in order.
The Falcons, 19-19 overall and 5-9 in the MWC, scored one in the sixth, two in the seventh and three in the eighth. Mike Thiessen singled and scored in the sixth. The Aztecs made four errors in the final two innings, which led to three unearned runs. Brian LaBasco drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh and Don Rolleg scored on a passed ball for a 3-2 lead. In the ninth, Nick Liegl walked and scored on Rolleg's single to left field. Bowie Frost reached on a fielder's choice and scored on an Aztec error. Rolleg scored on LaBasco's double to right-center field.
SDSU, 20-14 overall and 9-5 in the MWC, scored in seven of the nine innings and cruised to a 19-1 win in the second game. Aztec pitcher Marcos Mendoza pitched a complete-game, allowing just one run on eight hits with nine strikeouts and just one walk. Mendoza allowed only three runners to get past first base in the game. SDSU scored 13 runs in the final three innings. Andy Litteral tripled and scored in the first for a 1-0 lead. Gwynn and Litteral had RBI singles in the fourth while Rielly Embry had a two-run single in the sixth for a 6-0 lead. The Falcons got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when Thiessen doubled and scored on Frost's single to left field. In the seventh, the Aztecs had two doubles and a triple that led to four runs. AFA made two errors in the eighth that led to four runs. Aztec Ben Leuthard hit a three-run home run that keyed a five-run ninth inning. AFA starter Johnny Koegel, one of six Falcon pitchers used in the game, took the loss.
Thiessen led the Falcons by going 4-for-7 on the day with two runs scored. Third baseman Brad Bashore was 3-for-8. For the Aztecs, Pierce was 5-for10 with four RBI. Gwynn was 3-for-8 on the day with five runs scored and three RBI.
AFA's 19-19 overall record is the latest in a season that the Falcons have been .500 or better since 1995.
The same two teams conclude the MWC series, Sunday, April 8, at noon at Falcon Field.