SDSU vs Mississippi State: Exclusive Preview with Aztecs interim head coach Mark Martinez

USA TODAY Sports

I had a chance to talk with San Diego State interim baseball head coach Mark Martinez before Friday's game against Mississippi State.

The San Diego State Aztecs are trading their flip flops and beach towels for some rain gear as they head to Lafayette, Louisiana to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in their first game of regional play.

This will be no easy task for the Aztecs as they take on a Mississippi State team who reached the College World Series Finals last year.

I had a chance to catch up with interim head coach Mark Martinez before the team headed to Lafayette, Louisiana, on Thursday.

The conversation started with a simple question, ‘How are you preparing for this game?'

"We're preparing the same way we would for UNLV or anybody. This time of year you have to be hitting on all cylinders no matter what. We're trying not to do any over kill, we're preparing like we would every other week to go out and compete."

When asked if travel would affect the team, he simply responded with, "I don't think it's a real big deal." Martinez believes this an opportune time for the Aztecs to gain national attention.

"I think it's a good thing for our program to get out of this area (Southern California). It's an opportunity for us to get out there and put a stamp on our program in a different part of the country," said Martinez.

We talked about who has to come up big for them and he simply said the top half of the lineup.

"The way we have been winning games has kind of been the lower part of our order. You have got to get those guys on base in the top half."

Mississippi State prides themselves on pitching, as a team they combined for a 2.90 earned run average. Coach Martinez uttered one simple message to his hitters when I asked about how they will overcome such great pitching- "Hopefully they are patient enough."

The Aztecs have five guys hitting over .300 and Martinez will be looking toward them to spark offense.

"The way we're built, they are going to have to be themselves, be able to manufacture runs. You really only have a couple guys who can really hit the ball out of the park, Haynal and France."

Catcher Brad Haynal leads the Aztecs in home runs with twelve, while third baseman Ty France has five.

When I asked about who he'd be starting on Friday, he seemed confident in saying Bubba Derby (8-3, 2.69 ERA) would be on the mound.

"Right now I would think Bubba Derby would be the guy to get on there... We've put a lot on his shoulders the past couple weeks and we have to see how he's doing."

His main key for success against the Bulldogs?

"We have to be discipline, that's the biggest thing. We can't let the moment get to us."

Coach Martinez and his Aztecs take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Friday May 30 at 11 a.m. PT and can be seen on ESPN3.

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