Buzzer beater before first pitch! Petco Park in a frenzy

Padres fans, and a certain broadcaster, go wild when Aztecs win

April 2nd, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- It got awfully rowdy at Petco Park during the introduction of the visitors' lineup on Saturday night.

But, hey, it's not every day that a local men’s college basketball team hits a buzzer beater to win a Final Four game.

San Diego State University's remarkable last-second victory over Florida Atlantic ran parallel with introductions for the game between the Padres and Rockies on Saturday evening at Petco Park. While the main video board went ahead with pregame introductions, the right-field screen stuck with the Aztecs game.

And, sure enough, as Elehuris Montero’s name was announced, Lamont Butler hit the jumper to send SDSU to its first national championship game. Petco Park – which had opened early to show the game on the big screen – erupted.

There are, of course, quite a few connections between the Padres and Aztecs, the most notable being Tony Gwynn -- who played basketball and baseball at SDSU and coached Aztecs baseball after his playing days. To this day, Gwynn remains the university's all-time assists leader. He even contemplated a career in basketball, having been drafted by both the Clippers and the Padres on the very same day in 1981.

Meanwhile, Gwynn's son, Tony Jr., is an analyst on the Padres' broadcast and wore an SDSU Gwynn jersey to the ballpark Saturday, exulting from the home radio booth as the Aztecs advanced.

Over the past couple days, several Padres have donned SDSU jerseys gifted them by legendary Aztecs small forward Kawhi Leonard, who has attended numerous Padres games through the years. , and donned them during warmups Friday. Bob Melvin wore one to his pregame presser on Saturday.

“When Kawhi Leonard gives you a jersey like this, you wear it,” said Melvin, an avid Cal Bears fan who has adopted the Aztecs as something of a second team since his arrival in San Diego a season ago.

In the Rockies dugout, meanwhile, manager Bud Black cracked a wide smile and was greeted with high-fives and fist bumps. Black is an SDSU alum, along with Rockies infielder Alan Trejo.

The Aztecs will play in the national championship game Monday night, concurrent with the Padres' game against the D-backs. The Padres, of course, reached the National League Championship Series last season and are viewed as serious contenders to take home the first World Series crown in franchise history. 

These days, San Diego is quite a sports town.