LA JOLLA, Calif. - Three pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout and 24th-ranked University of California San Diego broke open a scoreless contest with a six-run fourth en route to a 14-0 thrashing of Concordia University Irvine in the opener of a four-game non-conference baseball series at Triton Ballpark on Friday night.
UC San Diego improved to 4-1 for the early going, while Concordia, a member of the Pacific West Conference, suffered its first loss to drop to 2-1. The Eagles had swept sixth-ranked, two-time reigning West Region champion Cal Poly Pomona in a home doubleheader last Saturday, Feb. 4.
Sophomore left-hander Preston Mott (2-0) matched his career long of 7.0 innings and allowed no runs on four hits, all singles, and no walks. He struck out four. The Clovis product was perfect in five of his seven frames. Mott had still faced the minimum through 4.1 innings, and set down 11 batters in a row between a one-out single in the first and one-out single in the fifth. The first-inning runner was cleaned up by redshirt junior catcher Steven Coe's third caught stealing already this year.
Mott turned back the leadoff man in all seven of his innings, and needed a mere five pitches to breeze through the fourth. He capped his stellar outing with back-to-back-to-back swinging strikeouts and a comebacker.
UCSD sent 11 to the plate in its big fourth, after managing no hits through the first three against Concordia right-hander Morgan Brannock (0-1). The inning began with Brandon Shirley's opposite-field single to right center, a perfect bunt single by JD Hearn, and a hit-by-pitch to Jack Larsen, to load the bases. A fourth senior, leftfielder Christian Leung, skipped a two-run double past the first baseman and down the right field line to open the scoring. With one gone, redshirt junior first baseman Justin Flatt looped a two-run single into center on a 3-2 pitch.
The inning would continue. Successive sharp singles by Tyler Howsley and Coe loaded the bases once more, and after a pitching change, Tim White drew a walk to force in Flatt. Shirley's sacrifice fly made it 6-0. The damage could have been even greater if not for a great play by CUI shortstop Haloa Dudoit on Hearn up the middle.
Larsen's double into the right field corner ignited a three-run fifth. Redshirt freshman Nick Kitzmann, in a pinch-hitting role, and Coe, added RBI doubles around a Howsley sacrifice fly. The Tritons had a remarkable seven doubles in the game.
A pair of young right-handers, true freshman Ted Stuka and redshirt freshman Blaine Jarvis, finished what Mott started. Stuka navigated around a one-out walk, the only free pass issued by the Tritons, in the eighth. Jarvis wiped out a leadoff single in the ninth by dialing up a 5-4-3 double play, UCSD's first twin killing of 2017.
Concordia's only real shot to score, and indeed the only frame in which an Eagle advanced past first base, came in the fifth. Mott alternated two outs with two singles ahead of Tony Garcia's base hit up the middle. Shirley, the Tritons' redshirt senior centerfielder, came up throwing, and it was Coe who completed the crazy play at the plate, somehow contorting his body after retrieving the ball to tag out the runner for the third out. Shirley's was the first outfield assist by UCSD this season.
Flatt had ranged over in front of his own dugout before reaching his glove out to snare a tough, foul pop-up earlier in that fifth.
Larsen, Crosbie, Kitzmann, Flatt and Coe all had two hits apiece, with Larsen scoring three times and Flatt twice. Leung, Crosbie and Flatt each knocked in a pair.
This weekend series between UC San Diego and Concordia now shifts north to Irvine on Saturday, Feb. 11, with the teams scheduled to play a doubleheader at Eagles Field beginning at 11 a.m. The nightcap would be a seven-inning affair.
Triton Notes: Tyler Howsley ran his consecutive games played streak to 114 ... Starting pitcher Preston Mott went 7.0 frames four times in 2016, with one other shutout effort at home against Cal State LA on March 5 in a game which the Tritons actually managed to lose 9-1 late ... Through two starts in 2017, Mott has already equaled his win total from his rookie campaign ... True freshman Chad Crosbie is now remarkably a perfect 3-for-3 to begin his college career with three doubles, adding his first two RBI Friday ... Crosbie leads the team with three doubles ... Jesse Moore's pinch-hit, RBI double in the eighth marked his first hit and RBI as a Triton ... Jack Larsen matched his single-game career best of three runs ... 11 different UCSD players crossed home plate ... UCSD's seven doubles were its most since hitting seven in a 20-2 romp at SF State on March 17, 2012.