TUCSON, Ariz. - It takes something pretty special for Collegiate Baseball Newspaper (CBN) to recognize an NCAA Division II student-athlete among its National Players of the Week.
A no-hitter, a one-hitter with 14 strikeouts, six home runs in a weekend, two grand slams in a day, out-of-the-ordinary stuff like that. It's generally reserved for the Division I ranks, and even as such, those parameters are not too far off.
Jack Larsen, No. 14 University of California San Diego's fourth-year senior rightfielder, did just that, however, this past week. Something out of the ordinary.
As a result, the Mission Viejo product out of Capistrano Valley High School, was named Monday morning by CBN as one of its seven National Players of the Week from all levels of the college game.
Larsen was the lone Division II player to be honored by CBN on this particular Monday. He is the first Triton to be so recognized, since former ace and teammate Justin Donatella during his unbelievable junior season, on March 9, 2015.
Larsen went 13-for-25 (.520) and slugged 1.320 during UC San Diego's run at the 2017 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship in Stockton. He produced five doubles and five home runs among his 13 hits, drove in 13 runs, and scored nine. He walked six times and struck out just once, while handling all 16 of his defensive chances cleanly with a pair of outfield assists.
Larsen led the third-seeded Tritons to a runner-up showing with a 4-2 mark, as they survived three elimination tilts after a tough, extra-inning game-two defeat on Thursday night to No. 2 seed Cal Poly Pomona, to force a winner-take-all final on Saturday evening with repeat champion Chico State. Though the Tritons fell shy in the final, his performance warranted a Co-Most Outstanding Player distinction.
Remarkably, Larsen hit exactly one double and one home run in each of UCSD's first five games of the tournament. The streak of five straight games with a home run is likely to be a program standard, but that category is not included in the record book.
The torrid Larsen has reached base safely in 35 consecutive games and knocked in 24 runs over his last 10 contests. His career-best 14 home runs, having entered the season with 12, are now tied for first in the CCAA, and outnumber the 13 that the Tritons managed as a team for the entirety of the 2016 campaign. UCSD subsequently leads the league with 49 round-trippers, thanks to this late-season surge that has seen the Tritons hit at least one long ball in 10 consecutive games, with multiple blasts in eight of them, and 24 in all over this stretch.
Larsen has really saved the best for last in his career as a four-year starter, as he also now leads the league in on-base percentage (.484), runs scored (55), RBI (58) and walks (43), and is second in slugging percentage (.672), tied for fourth in doubles (17), and tied for fifth in hits (68). He has fielded all 134 defensive chances cleanly this year, and his last 165 in a row going back to 2016. His team-best six outfield assists have increased his Division II-era program record to 19.
Larsen is also firmly in the UCSD top 10 in career home runs (T-No. 5, 26), runs (No. 7, 156), hits (No. 7, 244), RBI (No. 7, 153) and walks (No. 3, 131).
UCSD collectively put on an offensive tour de force in Stockton, breaking records for the tournament's 19-year history in hits (76), home runs (11) and walks (37), shattering the latter mark which previously stood at 25. The Tritons also bested their own event record in single-game walks, drawing 12 in a 16-6 battering of Cal State LA in an elimination contest on Friday, May 12. The standard had been 11.
Larsen himself equaled the tournament record with 13 hits, previously achieved by Chris McAllen of Cal State San Bernardino all the way back in 2002. He would have held marks for home runs and RBI, too, if not for Co-MOP and fellow senior Dillon Kelley of repeat champion Chico State, who used three home runs, including a grand slam, and six RBI, against UCSD in Saturday's winner-take-all final, to finish with six long balls and 15 RBI. The records had been three home runs and 12 RBI.
Among the host of Triton superlatives from the week, sophomore first baseman Tyler Durna matched the CCAA Championship record for walks in a tournament, with eight, and actually twice equaled the single-game mark of three, against both Cal State LA and Chico State in Saturday's first meeting.