AZUSA, Calif. - The 30th-ranked UC San Diego baseball team matched its season high of 16 hits and scored in each of the final four innings to overturn a 5-3 deficit and beat Azusa Pacific University, 10-6, in non-conference action Tuesday night at Cougar Baseball Field.
The Tritons improved to 14-9 overall, while the Cougars had their five-game win streak snapped and fell to 17-7 to round out an 18-game homestand. APU had produced a 3-1 decision over UCSD in the first meeting between the teams on Monday. They will conclude their four-game season series with a doubleheader at Triton Ballpark in La Jolla on Saturday, April 26, at 2 p.m.
The 10 runs were the most let up this season by an APU staff boasting a 1.94 team ERA coming in. The Tritons scored in double figures for the fourth time this year.
UCSD put men at the corners with just one away in the very first frame, but much like in Monday’s defeat, was unable to bring that runner home from third.
The Tritons then themselves got out of a jam in the home half as junior right-handed starter Dan Kolodin’s first pitch to Jordan Brower resulted in an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play with Cougars at first and second after a pair of one-out singles.
Triton senior Justin Rahn began the second with a double toward the gap in left center, and came around with the game’s first run. Jack Larsen’s bunt single forced a throwing error by the APU third baseman as both runners advanced the extra base.
A four-pitch leadoff walk, two-base throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt and wild pitch unceremoniously leveled the score right back up in the APU second.
Erik Lewis’ single, a second walk early in the game to Nick La Face and a Troy Cruz sacrifice left UCSD in good position to go back on top to begin the third. That’s just what took place, as junior first baseman Michael Mann finally provided the clutch knock, his two-run double into the right field corner making for a 3-1 Triton edge.
Azusa Pacific loaded the bases in the bottom half, all after a pair of harmless groundouts to Garrett Tuck at third base, on two singles and a hit-by-pitch. Kolodin closed out the shutdown inning, however, going to a full count before striking Danny Gonzales out swinging to strand three.
The Tritons were less fortunate in the following inning. APU catcher Andy Bissel jumped on the first pitch of his at-bat after a leadoff walk, to tie the game again at 3-3 with his second home run of 2014. A single and a double later, the home side had its first lead, still with nobody out, and Kolodin’s night was done. The Cougars added a fourth score for the frame to go up 5-3, on a two-out double by Matt Kimmel.
UCSD loaded the bases in the fifth, all with two outs, on two singles and a walk, but a first-pitch flyout ended that threat.
The Tritons batted around and scored three times in the sixth to regain a narrow 6-5 advantage. Three singles opened the frame, and a wild pitch brought across the first run and necessitated a Cougar pitching change. As La Face then reached on a fielding error by new arm Mike Fairchild, Gradeigh Sanchez crossed the plate for another deadlock at 5-5. Mann’s one-out RBI single chased in Lewis for 6-5.
After Trevor Scott retired APU in order in the sixth, UCSD filled the bases for the third inning a row in the seventh, doubling its lead when Cruz singled to right field on a 1-2 pitch with one away, bringing in Sanchez.
Chad Rieser, like Scott a junior left-hander, cleaned up a leadoff walk in the home seventh with a strikeout and a 6-3 twin killing, again off the bat of Brower.
UCSD continued to extend its lead as Larsen doubled, Tuck singled and freshman shortstop Tyler Howsley poked a first-pitch RBI single to right field in the eighth. With two outs and the bases full of Tritons once more, another wild pitch made it 9-5. In the ninth, a hit-by-pitch, walk and two passed balls determined the final score.
Kolodin allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits and two walks over three-plus innings, striking out two. Scott (2-2) only had one walk against him while facing the minimum six opposing batters over two shutout frames in a winning effort. Scott Zeman struck out each of the first two Cougars he faced in the eighth, and got three ground-ball outs in a perfect ninth.
Lewis was 4-for-5 with a walk, double and two runs, while Mann went 3-for-5 with a double, a hit-by-pitch and three RBI. Larsen, who entered the game with two walks on the year, drew three and reached base in five of six plate appearances, going 2-for-3 with a double. Rahn was 2-for-5 with a double, walk and run. La Face wound up 0-for-3 with three walks, a run scored and an RBI. Sanchez went 1-for-4 with two walks and two runs from the leadoff position. Howsley notched his first collegiate multi-hit game at 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI.
Bissel was 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBI, his second home run of the contest capping the APU scoring in the eighth. Kimmel and Mitch Dergazarian each provided three hits for the Cougars.
Adam McCreery, a 6-foot-8 junior left-hander who spent the past two seasons at Division I power Arizona State, lasted only 2.2 innings, giving up three runs, two of them earned, on four hits and four walks. He struck out two. APU used six pitchers on the night after eight arms saw action on Monday. Jacob Cage (0-1) took the loss.
UCSD is a third of its way through a six-games-in-seven-days road stretch this week during its Spring Break. The Tritons will travel by bus to the Bay Area on Thursday, March 27, to jump back into California Collegiate Athletic Association play with a four-game series with Cal State East Bay in Hayward, Friday through Sunday.
Triton Notes: Troy Cruz is the only Triton to start all 23 games, with five coming on the mound ... Justin Rahn is the only Triton to reach base in all 23 games ... Over the last eight games, Nick La Face is 14-for-26 (.538) with five doubles, one triple, 11 walks, eight runs and 11 RBI ... With three more walks tonight, La Face increased his league-leading total to 24 on the year ... La Face also threw out his first base-runner of the year in the fifth ... Prior to Michael Mann’s two-run double in the third inning, UCSD was 0-for-5 with a runner at third and less than two outs and 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position over the two games in Azusa, those two previous hits coming in the form of a Jack Larsen single in each contest ... Erik Lewis managed the second four-hit performance by a Triton in 2014, the other by Mann (3/8) ... Triton pitching had given up just one home run over the first 21 games before allowing three in the two games at APU ... UCSD drew 10 walks and hit four doubles on Tuesday night, matching two more season highs.