LA JOLLA, Calif. - Saturday saw three results at Triton Ballpark, all coming in the final inning, with the rare occurrence of a pair of walk-off victories by opposite sides, at one venue.
When the dust settled at the end of a wild day, UC San Diego and No. 15 Cal Poly Pomona had split both the afternoon’s doubleheader, and their four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball series.
CPP first took the resumption of Friday’s contest, 8-7 in 11 innings. That game had been suspended due to darkness at Pomona’s Scolinos Field, knotted at 7-7 through 10 frames. Still maintaining their status as the home team to start play Saturday in La Jolla, the Broncos got a walk-off RBI single from Trevor Magno in the bottom of the 11th.
The Tritons and Broncos then split their originally-scheduled doubleheader, with UCSD walking it off on a Garrett Tuck single in the ninth, 6-5, before CPP rallied for five in the seventh of the shortened nightcap to earn a 6-4 decision.
With the results, UCSD moved to 7-6 overall and 4-4 in the CCAA. Cal Poly Pomona is now 12-2 overall and 6-2 in league play. The Tritons had won Thursday’s series opener in Pomona, 4-2. The teams have split their series each of the last three years.
UCSD welcomes another tough conference foe in Sonoma State into town for four more games next weekend. The set opens in primetime this Friday night, Feb. 28, with a 6 p.m. first pitch at Triton Ballpark.
Magno, CPP’s senior second baseman, lifted a first-pitch single toward the gap in right center to drive in Steven Andrade from second with the game-winning run in the only inning that was necessary in La Jolla to begin Saturday’s action, the 11th.
The resumption took just 14 minutes. Andrade had drawn a one-out walk from Scott Zeman (0-1) and was bunted into scoring position by Mike Philp. Andy Amaro (2-0) threw a scoreless 11th for CPP to garner the win, allowing just a two-out single.
UCSD was ultimately out-hit, 14-11, with three hits apiece coming from Nick La Face and Troy Cruz. Cruz and Justin Rahn each drove in a pair. Jack Larsen was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs, while Brandon Shirley added a couple of runs. Click here for a recap of the first 10 innings played Friday.
UCSD and CPP combined for five runs in the ninth inning for a wild finish to open the doubleheader. The Tritons managed two of those runs to steal the walk-off triumph, 6-5.
The story for a great majority of this one was Triton starter Trevor Scott. The junior left-hander settled down after allowing two runs in the first and threw up seven zeroes. He had separate retired-batter streaks of eight and 12, the latter going through the eighth inning ahead of a Joseph Eusebio single to lead off the ninth.
Along the way, Scott set the Broncos down in order in the second on eight pitches, the third on six pitches with three groundouts, again with three groundouts in the sixth, the seventh on nine pitches, and the eighth on six.
In the ninth, Scott even cleaned up the Eusebio single with a nice around-the-horn 5-4-3 double play started by Cruz at third base, but back-to-back two-out singles ended his bid for a first collegiate complete game. After a balk call, pinch-hitter Nick Cooksey fought off an 0-2 count, fouled off three two-strike offerings and ultimately lined a sharp two-run single to center to tie the game. The Broncos struck for three runs on five hits in all and suddenly took a 5-4 advantage into the final half.
The drama was far from done, as the Tritons promptly loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of walks sandwiched around a Michael Mann single. Rahn then flied out to right, with Eusebio gunning down pinch-runner Corbin Wirta at the plate for a deflating double play. A second pinch-runner, Gradeigh Sanchez, however, took third on the transaction, which proved crucial.
With Bronco closer J.J. Franklin now on the mound, the Tritons boldly called and perfectly executed a first-and-third rundown play in which Cruz broke for second, drew the throw to the second baseman, and sprinted back with Magno hot on his tail, safely in the end, to the first base bag, all while Sanchez sprinted across the plate with a game-tying steal of home.
Two pitches later, Brett Levy singled to left to move Cruz to second, and two more pitches after that, it was Tuck with the decisive single to center.
The highlight of a three-run fifth earlier for UCSD was a successful safety squeeze as Shirley, a redshirt freshman outfielder, pushed his bunt toward first base to score Tuck for a 4-2 lead.
Down 2-0, Cruz had put the Tritons on the board, doing some first-strike swinging in the second for an RBI double down the left field line.
Chad Rieser (1-0) wound up the beneficiary of Tuck’s walk-off hit in terms of the pitching decision. Scott allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks over a career-long 8.2 innings, with a single strikeout. Rahn was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Tuck had also made a pair of tough plays at deep short to close out the CPP third.
The Tritons had a healthy 4-1 cushion on the strength of Cruz’s arm heading into the seventh inning of the nightcap after adding a pair of what seemed at the time to be insurance runs in the home sixth. CPP erupted for five runs on four hits and a costly error, however, and held on in the last half for the improbable 6-4 win.
A well-hit RBI double by senior leftfielder David Armendariz to the gap in left center knocked in Magno with what proved to be the winning run.
UCSD tallied twice in the third to open the scoring. Tyler Howsley drew a four-pitch walk with one away, and Erik Lewis drilled an RBI triple to right center on the first pitch he saw. The junior second baseman then came home on an infield error.
Lewis in the top of the second had made a great diving play to his left, throwing from the seat of his pants to deny Andrade a base hit.
Mann’s two-run single up the middle with the infield drawn in accounted for the Triton offense in the sixth. Lewis singled to lead off, Shirley doubled into the right field corner on an 0-2 pitch, and La Face was walked intentionally to fill the bases.
Cruz (1-1) took the loss, allowing five runs, four earned, on six hits and two walks over six-plus innings. He struck out five. Lewis and Shirley had two hits each out of UCSD’s total of five.
Triton Notes: Troy Cruz and Justin Rahn are the only two Tritons to have started each of the first 13 games, with two of Cruz’s starts coming on the mound ... Rahn is the only Triton to have reached base in all 13 games so far in 2014, getting hit by a pitch to lead off the fifth inning of the nightcap to keep that streak alive ... Nick La Face had his team-best hit streak snapped at nine games when he went 0-for-2 in the second game ... Junior catcher Brett Levy threw out his third base-runner in as many games in the fourth inning of the doubleheader opener ... Erik Lewis’ RBI triple in game two marked his first extra-base hit as a Triton ... UCSD produced nine double plays in the four-game set with CPP after entering with six in nine games.