After winning its third consecutive Mountain West tournament title last weekend, San Diego State Coach Mark Martinez said the Aztecs wanted to take the next step to gain respect as a national program -- winning an NCAA tournament regional game.
They did that in dramatic fashion Friday night at The Diamond in the Lake Elsinore Regional against UC Stanta Barbara with Steven Pallares stealing home on a two-strike, two-out pitch in the eighth inning to push the Aztecs to a 4-3 victory.
San Diego State toppled the No. 1 seed in the Lake Elsinore Regional and Gauchos ace Dillon Tate, who will likely be a top five pick in next month’s MLB Draft.
Pallaras reached in all four plate appearances, going three for three with three runs scored and three stolen bases. He also blasted a solo home run to left field off Tate, who struck out 11 in eight innings, but gave up six hits and four runs.
Outdueling Tate was Bubba Derby. He threw a 121-pitch complete game, giving up seven hits and three runs, but only one of those hits came in the final four innings. He capped the performance with back-to-back strikeouts to give him nine for the game.
San Diego State advances to face Virginia at 7 p.m. Saturday while UC Santa Barbara will face USC in an elimination game at 3 p.m.