SDSU, USD could meet in Los Angeles RegionalBy BERNIE WILSON , Associated Press
May. 27, 2013 6:29 PM ET
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Tony Gwynn's San Diego State Aztecs and Kris Bryant's San Diego Toreros are in college baseball's postseason in the same year for the first time ever.
And wouldn't you know it, the crosstown rivals were assigned to the same NCAA regional.
Third-seeded San Diego (35-23) will play No. 2 seed Cal Poly (39-17) on Friday in the opening game of the Los Angeles Regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Fourth-seeded SDSU (31-29) and top-seeded UCLA (39-17) will play in the second game.
"I think it's great. I wish we weren't in the same regional, but I'm glad both teams made it," Gwynn said Monday after the brackets were unveiled.
The Hall of Famer has his Aztecs in the regionals for just the second time in 11 seasons as coach at his alma mater.
Gwynn and USD coach Rich Hill — who were teammates at SDSU in 1981 — congratulated each other via text Monday morning, "and now we're in the same regional," Gwynn said. "We can just look each other eye-to-eye and wish each other luck. It's not an easy regional. Cal Poly's been solid all year long. With UCLA, obviously, we've got our work cut out for us. But that's the fun of regional baseball. You're going to see good teams. If there's any cupcake, we would be considered a cupcake, I guess. But we're going to go into it feeling we have a chance to win."
College kids being college kids, the Aztecs and Toreros wouldn't mind playing each other in L.A., whether it's in the winner's bracket or in a loser-out game.
"I think it's good," said Bryant, who leads the nation with 31 home runs and is projected to go in the top three picks in the major league draft on June 6. "We know who they are. I think they know who we are. If we get a chance to play each other it'll be good because I think we're a whole lot better than we were. It's cool for the whole city of San Diego. It will be a playoff atmosphere if we get to play."
The Aztecs ruined the opening of USD's swanky Fowler Park with a three-game sweep in mid-February. That was before Bryant, the star third baseman, started swatting prodigious home runs.
"This is a regional. We played them the first three games of the year," Gwynn said. "They're a completely different team than the team we opened against and I think it's fair to say we're a completely different team than the team they played earlier."
If the Aztecs and Toreros meet in Los Angeles, it will be "bad for them," Aztecs freshman infielder Tyler France said. "I mean, we showed them earlier in the year that we can hang with them and beat them. So good luck to them."
Both teams have momentum.
SDSU won four straight elimination games to win the Mountain West Conference tournament and secure the automatic NCAA berth. France had four hits and three RBIs in the clinching 9-4 win against New Mexico on Sunday. He was the tourney MVP after hitting .762 with a tournament-record 16 hits in 21 at-bats over in six games.
The only other time Gwynn's Aztecs made it to the regionals was in 2009, when Stephen Strasburg was their ace.
Gwynn said he told his team back in mid-February that it had the potential to reach the regionals. But the Aztecs had to win the MWC tourney to get in.
"We've swung the bats better the last three games than we have all year," said Gwynn, who had 3,141 hits and won eight NL batting titles in 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres. "Hopefully we can keep that going. Pitching and defense have kind of been our strength all year long. Hopefully that will continue. But it's nice to put some runs on the board. I think they're slowly buying into all the things we've been talking about all year long."
Bryant helped the Toreros win the inaugural West Coast Conference tournament. USD blew a late lead to San Francisco and lost on Friday before winning two elimination games to clinch the title. Freshman left-hander Troy Conyers, a two-time San Diego County Player of the Year in high school, pitched a three-hitter in his first college start to beat USF 2-0 Saturday to win the championship.
"We were up in all of those games," Bryant said. "There's a whole bunch of positives to take from that. We're playing really good baseball right now. That's what you want, to be playing good baseball at the end of the year."
Bryant's 31 homers are the most in a season since toned-down composite bats replaced the old aluminum bats in 2011. Among his many eye-popping stats, he also leads Division I with 62 walks, 78 runs and an .860 slugging percentage. He's tied for seventh with a .500 on-base percentage and has a 1.360 OPS.
"I'm just trying to make the most of my experience here and slow everything down," Bryant said. "The fact I get at least two more games with this team is awesome."
Hill has the Toreros in the regionals for the eighth time in 12 seasons.
Despite playing in a sun-splashed city that produces a ton of prep talent, neither USD nor SDSU have ever reached a super regional, the last step before the College World Series.
Bryant hopes that changes this year, at least for the Toreros.
"I think with the draw we have we could do it," Bryant said. "It's in our sights. The team is playing well. We're pitching well and swinging the bats well. I think this is the year. We've got to go out and take care of business."
Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson