Aztecs baseball excited to host Mountain West Championship

SAN DIEGO -- The Aztecs baseball team goes for their fifth Mountain West conference tournament title in six years starting Thursday when they host the tournament on the Mesa. With so many local players, they hope to really feel the love and support from friends and family.

The SDSU baseball team will host the Mountain West Championships for the first time since 2010, something Eastlake High School grad Julian Escobedo says he's looking forward to.

"It puts us a lot at a comfortable state and it gives us an edge to sort of play harder and kind of win for some of the families that are up there and for ourselves especially," said Escobedo, a sophomore outfielder.

This season posted one of the Aztecs best for home attendance and Granite Hills alum Jordan Verdon says the home field advantage makes a difference.

"It's going to be awesome, I'm very excited for this weekend," said Verdon, a junior infielder. "I'm going to have the whole family here, friends, uncles, everyone's coming. And does it pose an advantage? Yes, I do think it does. We're going to have a big crowd, one I don't think other teams have played in front of for most of the year so if this place is filled and rocking, it's going to be a really cool environment to play."

The Aztecs have won four out of the last five championships but with such a young squad this year, head coach Mark Martinez says the key to being successful means keeping emotions in check.

"We've been talking about that all week, kind of handling the mental part of the game and again, it's still a process," said Martinez. "We're still very young and inexperienced but hopefully the things that we've gone through the last couple weeks, even though we've been met with some adversity, can pay off in this conference championship."

The Aztecs finished second overall in Mountain West conference play and at one point ranked in the top 25 nationally.

"We've just got a lot of different personalities," said Verdon. "A lot of young guys, a good splash of older guys that have the experience that we need and we just love having fun."

That fun continues Thursday when the Aztecs open championship play against San Jose State, a team they went 4-2 against during the season.

"They're a strong opponent but definitely got a little bit of edge cause we've played them and won several games against them so we have a good idea of what we're going to face and hopefully we put up the numbers against them," said Escobedo.

"It's tournament time, anything can happen," said Verdon. "You can't take anyone lightly at this point in the season. Just expect a good matchup from them, they're a different team than they have been the past few years and we're excited to have them in the first round and show them what we got."

The Mountain West Championship kicks off Thursday at SDSU when the top four teams in the conference standings will play in a double elimination tournament. The Aztecs are the defending champions and secured the number two seed against teams like Nevada, San Jose State and UNLV.

The Aztecs take on No. 3 seed San Jose State Thursday at 6 p.m. at Tony Gwynn Stadium.