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Maybe the day is at least on the horizon when San Diego State and the University of San Diego are competing for the higher national ranking among the Division I college baseball programs as well as city bragging rights.
It seems to be at least headed in that direction after SDSU defeated USD 3-0 Sunday before 717 fans at Cunningham Stadium in the final game of the weekend-long MLB Urban Invitational that started Friday and Saturday in Compton.
The Aztecs’ win, behind a two-hit, complete-game shutout by junior college transfer Tyler Lavigne, was their fourth in the last five meetings between SDSU and USD. A year ago the Aztecs surprised the Toreros by winning three of four to open the season.
But prior to last season, Rich Hill’s USD club, perennially nationally ranked and an NCAA participant five of the last six years, had won 9 of 11 from SDSU.
“It hasn’t been a rivalry until last year we won some games,” said SDSU head coach Tony Gwynn. “We want this to be a competitive rivalry. We hope to play good baseball against them when we meet again in a couple weeks.”
USD opened the season ranked No. 11 in the nation by Baseball American and SDSU was unranked. But a year ago SDSU briefly gained national rankings after surprisingly taking that four-game series from the Toreros.
Gwynn and USD baseball coach Rich Hill haven’t been afraid to schedule cross-town games. SDSU and USD will play a four-game series from March 5 to 8 with two games at USD’s Cunningham Stadium and two at SDSU’s
Tony Gwynn Stadium.
“Tony and I were teammates,” said USD coach Rich Hill, whose first of two seasons with the Aztecs overlapped with Gwynn’s last of three seasons in 1981. “We think it’s good for baseball for these programs to play each other and be competitive.”
Gwynn took over a program that has slid into a malaise for decade under Jim Dietz from their last NCAA tournament appearance in 1991 to his final season in 2002. This is Gwynn’s seventh season of trying to turn around the program.