SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - The 23rd-ranked University of California San Diego went back to the well that has this year been the very lucrative fifth inning, striking for 11 in that frame to roll past Cal State San Bernardino, 16-4, in a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball game Friday at Fiscalini Field.
UC San Diego had scored nine times in the fifth in Thursday's 19-5 victory in San Bernardino to open the four-game series. Having added 11 in the fifth on Friday, the Tritons have outscored opponents 81-24 in that inning in 2017, and 20-2 this week.
UC San Diego moved to 31-14 overall and 23-12 in the CCAA. In its 2017 home finale on Senior Day, CSUSB dropped to 14-34 overall and 11-25 in league play. Cal Poly Pomona did, however, clinch the CCAA South, by virtue of a doubleheader sweep at home over SF State by final scores of 3-0 and 3-2 in 11 innings. The Broncos (26-11) had entered the day with a magic number of two to guarantee that spot, and are thus now the No. 2 seed at next week's CCAA Championship.
Its win, combined with Stanislaus State's 6-5 loss at Cal State East Bay, assured the Tritons of the No. 3 seed, and though the league had not confirmed at press time, it appears as though UCSD will open the CCAA tourney against fourth-seeded Stan State on Wednesday night, May 10, at 7 p.m. at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton.
Throughout the early stages Friday, it looked like as can tend to happen in the game of baseball, it just might not be the Tritons' day after collecting 19 runs just 24 hours prior. Down 2-0, however, redshirt senior right-hander Adrian Orozco (Chula Vista/Otay Ranch HS) retired the Coyotes in order for the second time in the fourth on 13 pitches with two groundouts, the latter one a comebacker, and a popout.
That effort awoke the UCSD offense as the Tritons went right to work in the fifth. They had sent 14 to the plate in that nine-run explosion Thursday on the heels of a seven-run fourth. In Friday's 11-run outburst, it was again 14 taking an at-bat, with six hits, three walks, one hit-by-pitch and an error when all was said and done.
Keenan Brigman drew a four-pitch walk to lead off and fellow redshirt freshman Nick Kitzmann singled. On the next toss, senior shortstop Tyler Howsley put down his team-leading 12th sacrifice bunt, setting things up perfectly for fellow Capistrano Valley High School alum and longtime teammate Jack Larsen at the top of the order to lace a game-tying two-run double into the right field corner.
Brandon Shirley and Tyler Durna hit back-to-back singles, the latter driving in Larsen as the go-ahead run. Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) reached via error but was credited with an RBI as Shirley came across. A hit-by-pitch to JD Hearn loaded the bases, and a walk to Chad Crosbie forced in Durna. A pitching change preceded Brigman's return, culminating in a two-run single to left center. He in fact reversed roles with Kitzmann, who drew his own four-pitch base on balls, filling the bags again for Howsley's second sacrifice, this one of the fly variety to plate Crosbie. Rather incredibly, Larsen bookended matters by launching his ninth home run to center for 11-2, an occurrence made more remarkable by the fact that Larsen had also produced a three-run home run and an RBI double, in that order, in the fifth on Thursday. Further ironic was that Brigman started that frame, too, with a single.
Earlier, both teams advanced a runner to second with two gone in the opening inning, but it was the Coyotes who capitalized, getting an opposite-field RBI double to left on a 1-2 count from Austin Lundeen.
CSUSB added a second, in the second, as leadoff man Dillon Fahr came sprinting around from second on a fielder's choice ground ball off the bat of Dominic Campeau for the second out. Lundeen's single and a wild pitch put two more in scoring position, but Orozco limited the damage with his first strikeout.
Orozco bagged the shutdown frame in the fifth with a fair degree of difficulty, despite two singles and a walk. His catcher, Kitzmann, gunning down Fahr trying to steal second after a one-out infield single, was a huge lift.
CSUSB doubled its run output with a pair in the seventh before Blaine Jarvis came on with men at the corners and one away. The redshirt freshman right-hander put a quick end to that action, inducing a lineout double play into Flatt's glove at first.
Kitzmann's first college home run, on a 2-0 pitch to left with the bases loaded and one away in the eighth, made it 16-4. The Solvang product became the second Triton this season to have his first career home run be a grand slam, following Howsley from a 10-8 home win on April 22. It marks a third grand slam this season for UCSD, with Hearn the other provider, in La Jolla on March 12.
Orozco stayed perfect at 8-0, going 6.0 innings and allowing two runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out five. Orozco needed a mere seven pitches to get through a perfect second via two groundouts and an infield lineout. He punched out the side after an error led off the home sixth, two of them looking.
Larsen finished 2-for-4 with his home run, double, two runs and career-best five RBI. Brigman wound up 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs and two RBI. Shirley was 2-for-3 with a walk, run and stolen base. Kitzmann had the grand slam after a single and a walk in the big fifth, and scored three times for season bests in runs and RBI.
Tim Nelson got a couple of groundouts around a called third strike after a leadoff walk in the eighth, and fellow sophomore right-hander Cameron Kurz (Encinitas/La Costa Canyon HS) worked around a two-out single in the ninth.
CSUSB senior Jon Ferrendelli (2-5) gave up eight runs, six of them earned, on six hits and three walks over 4.1 innings. He struck out four. The right-hander breezed through a perfect fourth on two groundouts and a popout before the trouble began. Campeau and Lundeen both went 2-for-4 with a double and walk, combining for three RBI.
UCSD and CSUSB conclude their four-game series with a doubleheader that now has an earlier start of 12 p.m. at Triton Ballpark on Saturday, May 6. It will be Senior Day for the Tritons, with 10 seniors being recognized in between games of the twin bill.
Triton Notes: Tyler Howsley extended his consecutive games played streak to 154 dating back to the 2015 opener ... Jack Larsen has appeared in 109 straight games, all of them starts ... JD Hearn has appeared in 76 games in a row, all of them starts ... Hearn, Howsley and Larsen are the only Tritons to appear in all 45 games this season, with only Hearn and Larsen starting each ... True freshman Chad Crosbie started his fifth straight game in left field ... Adrian Orozco drew his 12th start of 2017 and 13th of his Triton career ... Brandon Shirley's first-inning steal was his team-best 15th on 18 attempts ... Keenan Brigman's second-inning single extended his current team-best hit streak to nine games ... Howsley's sacrifice hit in the fifth was the 33rd of his career, a record for UCSD's NCAA Division II era (since 2001) ... Larsen's double in the fifth was his 11th to move him into a tie for first on the squad with Alex Eliopulos, and extended his reached-base streak to a career-best 27 games ... Tyler Durna's fifth-inning RBI single extended his reached-base streak to 36, surpassing Nick La Face's 35-gamer from 2014 and thus now alone as the second-longest in UCSD's Division II history, behind only Jeff Riddle's 41-gamer from 2004 ... After the fifth, the Tritons' next highest-scoring innings in 2017 are the first and fourth at 36 runs each ... UCSD's 11-run fifth on Friday was its biggest of 2017, eclipsing the 10-run fifth in a 14-2 home win over Concordia (OR) on Feb. 4 ... It was UCSD's biggest inning since another 11-run effort in the ninth to cap a 17-3 win at SF State on April 18, 2014 ... Nick Kitzmann threw out his sixth would-be base-stealer on 11 attempts in the fifth, and second straight ... Christian Leung's pinch-hit double in the seventh was his first hit after returning from a hand injury on April 13, having gone 0-for-15 since ... UCSD reached double digits in runs for the 10th time in 2017, and in back-to-back games for the third time ... UCSD improved to 10-2 in Orozco starts ... Larsen's career-best five RBI gave him nine for the series, a team-best 43 on the year, and 24 against Cal State San Bernardino ... Larsen's RBI high for a single series remains at 10, in the four-game set with CSUSB a year ago ... Larsen now has 21 home runs, 144 runs, 228 hits and 138 RBI for his career, ranking No. 8, No. 10, No. 10 and No. 10, respectively, all-time at UCSD in those categories.