LA JOLLA, Calif. - The 24th-ranked University of California San Diego baseball team sprinted out to a 7-0 advantage after three frames and blanked Cal State San Marcos, 8-0, in the 2017 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) opener for both local rivals Thursday night at Triton Ballpark.
In the aftermath of its fifth straight victory, UC San Diego improved to 9-2 overall and 1-0 in the CCAA. Cal State San Marcos had its five-game win streak snapped in dropping to 10-3 overall and 0-1 in league play.
Three Triton pitchers combined to silence what is still statistically the top offense in the CCAA, as CSUSM began the day with league bests of a .342 team batting average and 90 runs scored over 12 games.
Preston Mott (4-0) led that charge, earning his fourth winning decision in as many starts to begin the campaign. The true sophomore out of Clovis allowed five hits, all singles, and a pair of walks over his 6.0 innings, striking out three. It was a third consecutive shared shutout for Mott, who has now thrown 22 complete frames in succession without surrendering a run, lowering his season ERA to 0.38. He had a pair of 1-2-3 efforts in the first and fourth, needing just six pitches in the latter.
Redshirt freshman right-hander Blaine Jarvis took over and worked around a two-out Griffin Teisher triple into the right field corner in the seventh, getting a flyout. He then retired the Cougars in order in the eighth. True freshman right-hander Ted Stuka handled the ninth and got a called third strike to end it after a two-out single. It was a second shared shutout for both.
The Tritons jumped right on the Cougars, using sound fundamental baseball for a pair of runs in the first. Brandon Shirley beat out an infield single, was sacrificed to second by Tim White, stole third, and trotted home on Jack Larsen's single through the right side. With runners at the corners, Christian Leung's fielder's choice ground ball plated fellow senior JD Hearn.
The top of the second saw Shirley notch his second outfield assist on the year. Anthony Rodriguez led off by dumping a single into left center. Shirley stumbled slightly in retrieving the ball, and Rodriguez tried to take second. The UCSD centerfielder's throw to White at second was on target, however, for the initial out. Moments later, senior shortstop Tyler Howsley went into a full-stretch dive behind the second-base bag to snare a soft liner off the bat of Nico Maida to cap the inning.
The home side went right back to work in the home half. Redshirt junior catcher Steven Coe (Valley Center/Valley Center HS) was hit by an 0-2 offering. A Tyler Durna sacrifice preceded Howsley's RBI double down the left field line. With two gone and Howsley now at third, White slid an RBI single up the middle.
Mott found himself in a jam in the third, as CSUSM loaded the bases with one out, but he promptly induced a routine 6-4-3 double play. The Cougars filled the bags in the fifth, too, that time through a two-out rally with two singles and a walk, but Mott was again up to the task, getting the same batter, J.T. Sole, to pop out to Durna.
Larsen singled opposite field to left center for starters in the Triton third and Leung's bunt turned into an infield single. With one away and the bases full, a balk and an RBI Durna single made it 6-0. Shirley then beat out another infield single to shortstop at the end of an eight-pitch at-bat, enabling Coe to come across.
UCSD added a final tally in the eighth. With Tritons at the corners and nobody out, White lifted a ball deep to right that looked to have a shot to be the redshirt junior infielder's first collegiate home run, but it fell just short for an RBI single.
Larsen had charged in to make a difficult catch falling forward for the first out of the eighth, on Sole.
Shirley finished 3-for-5 with a run, RBI and a career-high-tying two stolen bases. Right behind him in the order was White at 2-for-4 with two RBI and his first steal of the season. Larsen and Durna each added two hits and an RBI. Howsley was 1-for-3 with a double, walk, two runs and an RBI. Coe scored twice.
Junior left-hander Shawn Hunt (0-1) went 3.0 frames for the visitors and gave up seven runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out three. Of the Cougars' seven hits on the night, two each came from their 7-8-9 batters in Isaias Torres, Ross Lemmel and Teisher. CSUSM was shut out for the first time in 2017.
UCSD and CSUSM continue their four-game series with another single game in primetime at Triton Ballpark on Friday, Feb. 24. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
Triton Notes: UCSD leads the all-time series, 5-3 ... Tyler Howsley extended his consecutive games played streak to 120 dating back to the 2015 opener ... Jack Larsen has appeared in 75 straight games, all of them starts ... Preston Mott (7.0 IP), Blaine Jarvis (1.0) and Ted Stuka (1.0) also combined on the 14-0 shutout vs. Concordia Irvine on Feb. 10 ... The Tritons now have three shutouts in 2017.