San Diego State’s baseball team scores a lot of runs. Like, a REALLY lot of runs.
The 19-9 Aztecs lead the nation in runs per game and team batting average. When the hits start coming, they simply don’t stop. Case in point:
Last weekend at Fresno State, the Aztecs trailed 14-5 in the 5th inning … then scored eight runs in the 6th inning and seven more in the 9th to win 21-14.
“That was one of the highlights of our season, for me, if not my entire career. It was really fun to be a part of,” says right fielder Jaden Fein.
He’s a big weapon in the Aztecs arsenal. Fein, a redshirt sophomore, is batting an absurd .475 this season, the highest mark in the nation by a full 26 points (he also went 6-for-6 in that comeback win against the Bulldogs). He was named to the watch lists of two of college baseball’s most prestigious honors: the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award and Golden Spikes Award.
Fein, though, likes to keep the focus on the entire lineup of mashers around him.
“I can be honest with you, this is the most fun I’ve had with any team so far,” says Fein. “That really takes the pressure off of me, as well as my teammates. Rallying around these guys we’ve grown this bond over the fall and this spring, which is surprising due to the fact we had COVID regulations. But, as of now we’re a tight-knit group and we’re honest with each other. We hold each other accountable and we’re always trying to win baseball games so, it’s been awesome so far.”
This kind of offensive gluttony is exactly the reason Jaden landed at San Diego State out of Royal High School in Simi Valley. Head coach Mark Martinez doesn’t like bunting very much.
“Absolutely, that was the main thing that drew me towards San Diego State. Coach sat me down when I went on my first visit and said, you’ve probably visited teams before here in California that play small ball and bunt guys over. We don’t do that here. We want you to bang and hit doubles and homers. That really drew me here and it’s kind of paid off for the rest of our lineup, as well.”
If Jaden seems mature beyond his years it’s because he is. During his sophomore year of high school, his mother Candi was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She battled, with help from her family, and beat the disease, giving her son an example of strength and perseverance that did not go unnoticed.
“That was kind of a huge life check for me, my little sister, my entire family. Rallying around her and helping her out, my sister and me taking up work around the house, trying to get back healthy and comfortable was huge for us. Tons of life lessons came out of that, not only for life but for baseball in realizing it’s just a game and things could be much worse. Putting that into perspective, for me, was huge and is to this day.”
As a freshman, Fein took a bit to find his footing. Once he did, he didn’t stop hitting and became the first Aztec to win Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year honors since a decent ballplayer named Stephen Strasburg.
“I’d be lying to you if I told you I was comfortable right off the get-go here. Coming in and playing against guys three and four years older was a real gut check for me. Even halfway through the season I started picking things up and I kind of sat down and thought to myself, I can do this. I can potentially play this game at a really high level. Winning that award at the end of the year was kind of the icing on the cake for me, getting recognized for all that work that I put in and the personal growth that I had. It was awesome.”
Fein is draft-eligible and will be taken by one of the 30 Major League teams this summer. He says he hasn’t thought about going pro or staying at SDSU for another year (or two) because all his focus is on going somewhere this program has never gone.
“We have unlimited potential. The only thing standing in the way is ourselves. We have the opportunity in front of us to win a whole lot of games and get to a Super Regional, and that’s been the goal for many years now, is to get past a Regional and get to a Super and eventually get to Omaha. That’s our goal this year, to get to the College World Series, and we’re definitely capable of it.”
With Fein and his mates raking like they have all year, the Aztecs might be more than capable of it. The Aztecs host Dixie State for three games at Tony Gwynn Stadium with a doubleheader on Saturday, April 24 (first game at 1:00 pm) and the finale at noon on Sunday, April 25.