San Diego State earns right to host USD in 2021 baseball opener in most unusual way

The San Diego State baseball team is hosting USD for the 2021 season opener for one simple reason:

Scissors cuts paper.

The Aztecs and Toreros have opened the season against each other a few times through the years, trading off home site for the series and/or opening game.

The site was undetermined coming into the 2021 season, so the two schools went old school.

SDSU pitcher Troy Melton and USD catcher Shane McGuire met Saturday morning in the shadow of the Tony Gwynn statue at Petco Park and threw down.

Best-of-three. Rock, paper, scissors.

McGuire actually came into the event as the favorite to secure home field for the Toreros. His family has held a rock, paper, scissors competition over the holidays for as long as he can remember.

“I’ve played a lot of games in my career,” McGuire said. “Everyone gets involved. Fifteen or 16 people. Grandma. Grandpa.

“I’m always in the final three or four. I have a huge target on my back since I won it a lot when I was a kid.”

Melton became SDSU’s representative when head coach Mark Martinez did some scouting before a recent practice and the other Aztecs pitchers said Melton’s your man.

Melton said his preparation was minimal, but he wasn’t lacking for confidence.

“I’m kind of going in blind,” Melton said. “I’m pretty well-versed in rock, paper, scissors, so I’m ready for it.”

He was, indeed, though the best-of-three series was extended to its limit before Melton’s scissors cut McGuire’s paper.

“I was pretty confident right there,” Melton said moments later, still basking in his victory. “I didn’t feel to much pressure. It was just fun, and it’s fun to have that home game.”

So SDSU will host the Feb. 19 season opener between the teams — as well as a Feb. 20 game — at Tony Gwynn Stadium. USD will host the Aztecs on Feb. 21 at Fowler Park.

It represents the first opportunity for a real game since the college season abruptly ended in mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States.

Both teams were off to solid starts last season — USD was 12-4 and SDSU was 10-6 — and among the favorites in their conferences when the shutdown came.

The Aztecs and Torerosare expected to be in the thick of their respective conference races again this season.

First of all, they’re just happy to get back on the field.

“Elation,” USD head coach Rich Hill said. “It’s like the night before Christmas for all these guys. It’s been almost a year that they’ve been on the shelf.

“We’re excited. And that’s understating it.”

Said Martinez: “It’s been great to see our guys smile when they come out to the yard and move around and have some fun. That’s been a joy to watch. …

“When you have something ripped away from you, obviously, there’s an appreciation for getting back out there.”

The NCAA allows a 56-game regular season, although both SDSU (42 games, including 36 in the Mountain West) and USD (46 games, including 27 in the West Coast Conference) have had their schedules trimmed amid both fiscal and physical concerns.

“Having an opportunity to play is a win,” Martinez said. “If we just get to start the season, that’s a win.”

Both schools have nonconference series scheduled against UC San Diego (17-4 last season), which moves up to Division I play this season in the Big West.

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button