• 41°

College baseball: Gwynn’s Aztec’s make field, prepare for Virginia

By Bernie Wilson
Associated PressSAN DIEGO ó Finally, Tony Gwynn could exhale.
After enduring two long nights and spending hour after hour on his computer keeping track of college baseball tournaments across the country, Gwynn and his San Diego State Aztecs got the news Monday morning that they were indeed going to the NCAA regionals.
“The fact that we got in ó big relief,” the Hall of Famer said after watching the selection show with his team. “It was like, ‘All right, we’re in, so let’s focus in on the baseball now.’
“We’re very excited about being in.”
SDSU and its ace right-hander, Stephen Strasburg, will play ACC champion Virginia on Friday at Irvine, followed by defending national champion Fresno State against UC Irvine, which is ranked No. 1 in most polls.
Gwynn had already been through emotional extremes in the previous 72 hours. The former Padres star was thrilled to be able to break the news to his son, Tony Jr., that he’d been acquired by San Diego on Thursday. Hours later, the Aztecs rallied for eight runs in the eighth inning to beat Utah 9-8 and reach the championship round of the Mountain West Conference tournament.
Then came a double bummer, losses to Utah on Friday and Saturday that forced the Aztecs to wait until Monday morning to find out if they would play on.
Gwynn figured SDSU (40-21) had a chance of getting a postseason berth but also knew that the Mountain West had never gotten more than one team in. It ended up getting three ó TCU, which is hosting a regional; Utah, which won the conference tournament as the No. 6 seed; and SDSU.
It’s taken Gwynn seven seasons in his dream job to get his alma mater back to the NCAA regionals. Their last postseason appearance was in 1991, when he was halfway through his 20-season career with the Padres.
Gwynn got the SDSU job even before he was finished with his Padres career. The school announced in September 2001 that Gwynn ó who was a baseball and basketball star during his SDSU career ó would replace retiring Jim Dietz starting with the 2003 season. Gwynn showed up on campus the morning after his last game in the big leagues and spent the 2002 season as a volunteer assistant.
Gwynn doesn’t necessarily think this berth validates what he’s done.
“I don’t know about validation; it’s just about time,” Gwynn said. “I think people are saying, ‘Yeah, it’s about time, you’ve been there seven years.’ We finally got here. This is where we’ve wanted to go the whole time.
“I said that at the beginning of the year ó we’ve got to climb this mountain. We’ve been climbing, climbing, climbing; almost get to the top and slide back down. This year we’ve finally gotten to it, and so now, let’s keep going. Let’s see how far we can go.”
Gwynn said the Aztecs probably will start Strasburg in the opener Friday. Strasburg, the likely No. 1 overall draft pick, is 13-0 with a 1.24 ERA. He no-hit Air Force in his last home start.
There’s no question Strasburg was a factor in the Aztecs getting the berth, Gwynn said.
“Best player in the country, people want to see him,” the coach said. “That’s kind of like our ace in the hole. You want it to be on merit. We won 40 games. There aren’t many teams in this field that won 40 games. We felt like we were worthy. Having the best player in the country didn’t hurt. It worked out. We’re in.”

Comments

Comments closed.

News

Defendant convicted in attempted murder case on the run after fleeing from trial

Business

Downtown Gateway Building to be renamed for late Paul Fisher

Coronavirus

Rowan County COVID-19 data for April 15

Local

Rep. Warren’s bill would prohibit parking in electric vehicle charging stations

Local

Historic Preservation Commission approves Integro Technologies expansion, Paint the Pavement project

Education

Faith Academy, RSS will negotiate over what goes, stays in elementary school

Crime

Teacher killed in Alamance County shootout with Mexican drug cartel

Coronavirus

Bill would give more tax breaks on COVID-19 loans

Nation/World

No response as divers knock on capsized ship’s hull

Local

Quotes of the week

Crime

Blotter: Man found on church property with litany of drugs

Crime

Man charged in connection to 2019 overdose death

Business

‘It’s our big time’: Salisbury Farmers Market reopens Saturday

Education

Schools capital funding still frozen as RSS sends local budget to county

Business

Shields, Cheerwine Festival receive N.C. Main Street Awards

Kannapolis

Duke University launches kidney disease study in Kannapolis for people of African descent

Education

Horizons Unlimited will hold in-person summer camps

Education

Education briefs: Catawba planning for more in-person activities, free summer school tuition

Coronavirus

County’s full COVID-19 vaccinations top 22,600

High School

High school golf: With Merrell, Mustangs back on top

Local

Spencer investigating rat problem on South Iredell Street

News

Livingstone, Mission House Church to host national ‘Black Voters Matter’ listening session

Education

Shoutouts

Business

Groundbreaking on Pennant Square signals next phase in downtown Kannapolis revitalization