The seventh-ranked University of California San Diego baseball program contests a pair of exhibition games over the next week to get ready for its 2018 opener. Both are at home at Triton Ballpark in La Jolla, against members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and its Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC). The Tritons will first host Hope International University of Fullerton, ranked No. 8 in the preseason NAIA poll, this Friday, Jan. 12. Local foe San Diego Christian College then pays a visit on Wednesday, Jan. 17. That matchup was previously listed as Tuesday, Jan. 16, but was moved forward a day to better accomodate Friday's exhibition. The contests are in primetime with 6 p.m. first pitches. Admission on East Campus is free, though parking permits are required on the UC San Diego campus on weeknights. Live stats will be available. There will be no live video coverage until the regular season begins.
Of the four national polls in existence for NCAA Division II baseball, the preseason edition of just one of them has been released, with seventh-year head coach Eric Newman's Tritons ranked No. 7 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), Perfect Game and D2BaseballNews.com have yet to unveil their prognostications. The PG listing will be announced on Jan. 25.
Hope International, heading into just its third year back as a program after a lengthy hiatus, is already ranked in the top-10 in the NAIA preseason poll. The 2017 campaign saw the Royals finish 35-18 overall and 20-10 in GSAC play. HIU won the GSAC regular-season title and was runner-up at the GSAC tournament, ultimately advancing to the NAIA World Series. Erich Pfohl is the third-year head coach. Like Newman for the NCAA Division II West, Pfohl was an American Baseball Coaches Association/Diamond Regional Coach of the Year honoree for 2017. The Tritons and Royals have faced off one other time, also in an exhibition, with HIU rallying for a 5-4 victory through a five-run ninth last Jan. 17 in La Jolla. Four pitchers had combined on a one-hitter through eight frames.
The Hawks, based in Santee, were 18-23 overall and 10-20 in the GSAC. Brian Schroeder is beginning his second year in charge. UCSD and SDCC have most recently met in exhibition action in three of past four preseasons, always in La Jolla, with the Tritons winning once last year (7-5), twice in 2016 (8-6 and 10-1), and in 2014 (4-0).
UC San Diego went 44-19 overall and 24-13 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) in 2017, placing second in the South Division behind Cal Poly Pomona for the second year in a row and qualifying for a fourth successive CCAA Championship. The Tritons caught fire late, posting a 12-4 postseason record, including 7-2 in elimination games, en route to a first West Region crown since 2010, and a national runner-up effort in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Following the two exhibitions, the Triton Baseball Alumni Game is scheduled under Friday night lights at 6 p.m. on Jan. 26. The program's golf tournament fundraiser is the next day, with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. in Coronado. More information and registration can be accessed here.
The Tritons then make the short trip north to begin the new campaign on the road in Irvine on Thursday, Feb. 8, at Concordia, with first pitch slated for 2 p.m. The schedule for Opening Day at Triton Ballpark that Friday, Feb. 9, is in the process of being maneuvered.