LA JOLLA, Calif. - Fourth-ranked University of California San Diego allowed back-to-back three-run frames in the third and fourth and fell to Cal Poly Pomona, 7-1, in the opener of a four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball series Thursday night at Triton Ballpark.
With the result, UC San Diego dropped to 24-8 overall and 16-6 in the CCAA. CPP improved to 19-17 overall and 15-10 in league play. The CCAA South Division-leading Tritons are now 2.5 games ahead of the second-place Broncos.
Sophomore left-hander Preston Mott (6-3) breezed through a 1-2-3 first with two groundouts to his shortstop preceding a swinging strikeout. After dodging a one-out walk and ensuing single in the second, however, he ran into tougher times. Both the third and fourth opened with Bronco singles, with five CPP players registering a run batted in. Mott did not make it out of the fourth, his final line reading six runs, five of them earned, on nine hits and a walk over 3.1 innings, with three strikeouts.
Things had started out promisingly for UCSD after that quick initial frame, as offensively the Tritons loaded the bases with just one away in their first turn at-bat, with the CCAA's leading hitter, Tyler Durna, coming up. Freshman CPP right-hander Jeremy Taylor got out of that jam with a pair of flyouts, though, and settled down.
UCSD's lone run came courtesy of redshirt senior centerfielder Brandon Shirley's second home run of the season and sixth of his career, a solo shot down the left field line to lead off the fifth. He wound up 2-for-4 with a walk.
The Tritons threatened a rally in the ninth, loading the bases on three walks around a flyout and a strikeout, but Peter Beattie came on to notch the final out. Taylor (2-1) picked up the winning decision, going 6.1 innings with just the one run against him on six hits and two walks. He fanned three. Left-hander Matthew Grier moved the game along from Taylor to Beattie with 2.1 one-hit frames.
Despite two errors, UCSD had a couple of stellar defensive plays. Senior third baseman JD Hearn made a tough scoop to start a 5-4-3 double play in the fifth, with Durna doing what he's known for, snatching the short-hopped relay throw. In the seventh, senior shortstop Tyler Howsley made an incredible bare-handed play on a high chopper off the bat of Jason Padlo for the second out.
Among CPP's 15-hit barrage, Cody Martin had three and five Broncos added two each. Designated hitter Frankie Nogales knocked in two runs, the latter on a sacrifice fly to cap the scoring in the sixth.
Game two between UCSD and CPP is again set for a primetime 6 p.m. first pitch at Triton Ballpark in La Jolla on Friday night, April 14.
Triton Notes: Tyler Howsley extended his consecutive games played streak to 141 dating back to the 2015 opener ... Jack Larsen has appeared in 96 straight games, all of them starts ... JD Hearn has appeared in 63 games in a row, all of them starts ... Fourth-year senior Christian Leung was back in the lineup as the designated hitter after missing the previous 19 games due to a hand injury ... Tyler Durna extended his team-best streaks to 23 straight games reaching base and 18 with a hit ... Durna continues to lead the league with his .421 batting average ... Preston Mott made his team-best 11th start of the year and 25th of his UCSD career ... Of UCSD's five walks drawn on the night, two came in the first and the other three in the ninth ... The Tritons had not been charged with multiple errors since March 17 (three), a span of 10 games in between ... The 15 hits were the second-most surrendered by UCSD in 2017, one shy of matching its season high from March 11.