LA JOLLA, Calif. - Solid hitting and better pitching propelled No. 24 University of California San Diego to the sweep of a non-conference baseball doubleheader over Western Oregon University Thursday at Triton Ballpark. Scores of the two nine-inning contests were 5-0 and 9-3.
The results gave UC San Diego four straight wins and an 8-2 overall record. Western Oregon, of Monmouth, Ore., and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, dropped to 1-3.
The days and times of the remaining two games of the intended four-game weekend series are to be determined based on the severe storm expected to arrive in the area on Friday. Every effort will be made to play both contests before Western Oregon returns home on Sunday night. Fans are encouraged to stay tuned to our official Twitter account @UCSDtritons and official website, UCSDtritons.com, for updates.
Game One - UCSD 5, WOU 0
Preston Mott coolly and efficiently moved to a perfect 3-0 over his first three starts with 6.0 innings of shutout baseball in game one Thursday. The sophomore left-hander out of Clovis was 2-3 over a team-high 14 starts in his rookie campaign. He scattered two hits and a pair of walks while striking out one and combining with two teammates for his second shared shutout already of 2017.
Mott split the five-hitter with redshirt junior left-hander Travis Roberts and sophomore right-hander Jonah Dipoto. Roberts worked around a one-out walk and ensuing single in the seventh, getting Jay Leverett to line into a double play to redshirt freshman second baseman Keenan Brigman.
Dipoto handled the rest, getting a called third strike after back-to-back flyouts in a perfect eighth. In the ninth, he, too, allowed successive one-out base-runners, both via singles. He, too, induced a lineout double play to kill the threat, senior shortstop Tyler Howsley gloving Forrest Garcia's hot shot and calmly flipping to Brigman as he glanced across the second-base bag.
Offensively, fourth-year senior outfielder Christian Leung drove in three more runs, two of them on his fourth home run already this season in the fifth inning. He leads the California Collegiate Athletic Association with 13 RBI and the four home runs.
UCSD opened the scoring with a two-run third. Singles by redshirt juniors Steven Coe and Justin Flatt around a Brandon Shirley sacrifice put Tritons at the corners with one away. JD Hearn walked to load the bases, and Jack Larsen lifted a sacrifice fly. Leung then came through with a clutch RBI single through the right side for 2-0.
Hearn reached safely on a passed ball after striking out to start the home fifth. The senior third baseman stole second and third around a strikeout, and Leung did the rest, slamming a 2-0 offering over the wall in right field for a 4-0 advantage.
UCSD added another unearned tally in the eighth as Brigman reached on an error, swiped second, moved to third on Howsley's bunt, and scored on Coe's double into the left field corner.
Flatt sparkled defensively at first. He made a tough pick-up of a bounced throw by Howsley to retire the game's initial batter. The Walnut Creek native then leapt high to snare a liner and save a run with Justin Wakem standing on third, in the third.
A 4-6-3 twin killing got Mott out of trouble after a leadoff walk in the fourth. The sixth began with Hearn mishandling a ground ball. He atoned for it moments later by pouncing on a chopper by Koty Fallon and cutting him down for the third out with another WOU runner stranded at third.
Leung wound up 2-for-4 with his home run, run scored and three RBI. Coe was 2-for-4 with a double, run and RBI. Hearn had two walks, a run and two stolen bases.
Mott out-dueled National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Preseason All-America Third Team selection Brady Miller (0-1), the junior right-hander taking the loss after surrendering four runs, three of them earned, on six hits and a walk over five complete innings. He fanned five. Wakem had two of the Wolves' five hits.
Game Two - UCSD 9, WOU 3
UCSD produced three-run rallies in the third and fourth to take a 7-1 lead and cruised the rest of the way in the nightcap. The Tritons got solo home runs from senior third baseman JD Hearn with one gone in the fourth, and sophomore first baseman Tyler Durna to lead off the eighth. Hearn's was his first as a Triton, with Durna's the first of his collegiate career, sailing over the scoreboard in right field.
Sophomore right-hander Kyle Lucke (1-0) earned the winning decision with 2.2 innings of one-hit, shutout baseball in relief of redshirt junior right-handed starter Kyle Goodbrand, who fanned four over 4.1 frames.
Redshirt senior right-hander Troy Cruz (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista HS) turned in the only 1-2-3 inning by either side in the game, in the ninth, with a flyout, swinging strikeout and groundout.
Durna had his first career three-hit game, going a perfect 3-for-3 with a walk, sacrifice, home run, run scored and four RBI to match his top output.
UCSD took advantage of 11 free bases through seven walks and four hit-by-pitches.
The first three of those walks came in the second, successively with two outs after an infield error, to force Nick Kitzmann in with the game's first run. Redshirt junior second baseman Tim White drew the bases-loaded walk on nine pitches, fouling off a pair of 3-2 offerings from starter Elias Bedolla (0-2).
After Western Oregon answered in the third, UCSD struck for three in its half. Hearn and Larsen each singled up the middle to force a pitching change. Back-to-back fielder's choice ground balls, the latter of the RBI variety by Kitzmann, scored Hearn. With the bases loaded, Durna laced an opposite-field RBI single through the left side, and Howsley slapped an RBI groundout on which shortstop Garrett Anderson made a spectacular bare-handed play.
The Tritons secured three more in the fourth. With one out, Hearn blasted the first pitch he saw from Cam Walker deep to left, only for it to be ruled foul. Five pitches later, he would not be denied, sending his shot over the left field wall after all. Leung's two-out rally triggered another two runs, as successive hit-by-pitches filled the bases, and Durna slid a two-run single up the middle.
Leung's RBI double deep to center followed consecutive one-out walks in the seventh. Durna's shot capped the scoring in the eighth.
Hearn wound up 3-for-4 with his home run, a walk, three runs and one RBI. Leung was 2-for-5 with a double, two runs and one RBI. Redshirt sophomore designated hitter Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) added two singles. Kitzmann scored three times despite going 0-for-3, with a walk, hit-by-pitch and RBI.
Triton Notes: UCSD is 24-10 all-time against WOU with seven straight wins, and 21-10 in La Jolla ... Tyler Howsley extended his consecutive games played streak to 119 dating back to the 2015 opener ... Jack Larsen has appeared in 74 straight games, all of them starts ... Game One: After retiring 13 of his first 14 leadoff batters faced this season, Preston Mott saw the leadoff man reach base in the third through sixth innings, but stranded them all ... JD Hearn had his first two-steal game as a Triton ... UCSD turned a season-best three double plays ... Game Two: Jack Larsen was caught stealing for the first time in his college career in the fourth inning after 21 successful stolen bases on 21 attempts as a Triton.