LA JOLLA, Calif. - Fifth-ranked University of California San Diego was unable to dig out of an early hole against Sonoma State University and ace Haydon Turpin, falling 5-1 in the opener of a three-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball series at Triton Ballpark on Saturday night.
In seeing their five-game win streak snapped, the Tritons move to 18-5 overall and 10-3 in the CCAA. With Cal Poly Pomona having suffered a home doubleheader sweep at the hands of Stanislaus State, UC San Diego maintains a two-game lead atop the South standings. Sonoma State, now a winner of four straight, improves to 12-8 overall and 9-7 in league play. The teams had not met in La Jolla since 2012.
The Seawolves tallied all the runs they would need while batting around in a three-run first. Daniel Caresio drew a six-pitch leadoff walk and Mitch West followed by launching a double to the wall in left to send his teammate sprinting around the bases with the game's first run. Joshua Montelongo walked on four tosses and Grant St. Martin poked a single right through the middle to fill the bags. Nathan Mann dropped a one-out RBI single in front of centerfielder Jack Larsen, before Matthew Richards' sacrifice fly, also to center, for 3-0.
UCSD, meanwhile, continued to find the going difficult against Sonoma State's Haydon Turpin (5-1). The senior right-hander went 6.2 innings and allowed just an unearned run on six hits and no walks, while striking out seven. Over three appearances all-time against the Tritons, two of them starts, Turpin is 2-0 with just that unearned tally on 10 hits and three walks over 17.0 frames, with 18 strikeouts.
Sophomore left-hander Preston Mott (6-1) suffered his first losing decision in his team-best eighth start, lasting just 3.2 innings and allowing a season-high five runs on six hits and a career-high four walks, striking out two. Each of his first seven starting assignments in 2017 had gone at least five complete frames. Mott did have a perfect inning in the second, and actually retired six straight at one point.
Sonoma State added a pair in the fourth on a one-out, RBI single by West and an RBI fielder's choice groundout by Montelongo.
The lone UCSD run came in the sixth. Larsen lined an opposite-field single to left with two away. On the very next pitch by Turpin, fellow senior JD Hearn roped a double through the right side and into the right field corner. Richards' throw in from there short-hopped his teammate and skipped away from the Seawolf middle infielders, allowing the alert Larsen to astutely come home. Hearn, however, was stranded at third as the next Triton struck out.
UCSD also left a runner at second in the fifth after Tyler Durna's leadoff double, men at first and second in the seventh, and another on third in the eighth.
Turpin produced 1-2-3 efforts in the first, third and fourth. Fellow senior right-hander Ricky Clark took over for 2.1 no-hit frames and his second save.
A highlight for the Tritons was the bullpen, providing 5.1 shutout innings with just two singles against. Sophomore right-hander Kyle Lucke replaced Mott with two outs and two on in the fourth, and induced a flyout before striking out the side in order in the fifth, the latter two looking. He navigated around a leadoff single in the sixth and finished with a season-best four strikeouts.
Redshirt sophomore right-hander Erik Amundson made his first appearance since Feb. 25 at Cal State San Marcos, and equaled his career high of three punchouts during the seventh and eighth. He breezed through a 1-2-3 eighth on a popout, called third strike and groundout. Redshirt freshman right-hander Blaine Jarvis needed just five pitches to get three ground-ball outs in the ninth.
The Tritons and Seawolves conclude their weekend set with a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. at Triton Ballpark on Sunday, March 26. Both contests are scheduled for the regulation nine innings, with a 30- to 40-minute break in between. General admission is $5 and parking is free all day. Those unable to attend can view the twin bill in high definition on UCSDtritons.tv for a pay-per-view cost of $5.99.
Triton Notes: Tyler Howsley extended his consecutive games played streak to 132 dating back to the 2015 opener ... Jack Larsen has appeared in 87 straight games, all of them starts ... Preston Mott made his eighth start of the year and 22nd of his Triton career ... UCSD matched its season high by striking out 10 times ... The Tritons fell to 11-3 at home this year ... UCSD has managed just one or two runs in four of its five losses in 2017.