No. 14 Tritons Sweep Doubleheader From Concordia Portland to Clinch Another Series Win
LA JOLLA, Calif. - Fourteenth-ranked University of California San Diego took both ends of a non-conference baseball doubleheader against Concordia University at Triton Ballpark on Monday. Scores of the two nine-inning contests were 9-6 and 7-1.
UC San Diego, the preseason California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) favorite, remained perfect at 4-0 with the results. Concordia (2-5), from Portland, Ore., is picked fourth in the six-team Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).
Triton pitching surrendered just two earned runs on the day, one in each game, though they produced only two perfect frames out of 18, in the seventh and ninth frames of the nightcap.
The Tritons will attempt to sweep the three-game series on Tuesday, Feb. 12. First pitch at Triton Ballpark is set for 2 p.m. Admission is free for UC San Diego students, and $5 for the public. Fans are encouraged to arrive early, as parking on East Campus in La Jolla could be a challenge at that hour with classes in session. For those unable to attend, a pay-per-view ($5.99) video stream will be available on UCSDtritons.tv.
Game One - No. 14 UCSD 9, CU 6
UC San Diego surrendered the game's initial run in the first but exploded for six in the third, sending 10 to the plate with four hits and three walks.
The Tritons proceeded to give that five-run cushion back in its entirety, playing some uncharacteristically poor defense to the tune of four errors which led to five of the six Concordia tallies going down as unearned. The Cavs scored two in the fourth and three in the sixth, before the home side went back on top for good in the bottom half.
Redshirt junior catcher Nick Kitzmann ignited the big third-inning rally with a leadoff walk. Successive one-out singles by Shay Whitcomb and Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) at the top of the order loaded the bases. Blake Baumgartner then drew a game-tying, four-pitch walk, and Steven Schuknecht followed with an eight-pitch free pass, crawling out of an 0-2 hole. R.J. Prince singled on starter Jared Akin's next offering to plate Eliopulos, and on Keenan Brigman's sacrifice fly to left, Baumgartner slid in under the tag attempt at home.
Junior Tyler Leskiw, a native of Australia and first-year transfer from San Diego Mesa College in his Triton debut as the starting designated hitter, laced a single to right for his first UC San Diego hit and RBI, and a 5-1 bulge. The final run of the inning scored as Leskiw swiped second, and Prince sprinted home to complete the double steal.
The Cavaliers' first-inning run had come after a leadoff error. The fourth, too, began with a misplay on the first batter. Junior right-hander Ted Stuka, in his season debut, almost wriggled out of the jam, but Jordan Farhat managed a two-out, two-run single down the right field line.
Two innings later, the game was tied again at 6-6, this time after a leadoff walk and ensuing infield error. Payton Presley's two-run double closed the gap to one. With Cavs still at second and third and nobody out, redshirt junior right-hander Blaine Jarvis took over for Stuka, and limited the damage to just the game-tying tally. Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Jarvis first got Damon Peters to ground out to Baumgartner at first with no advancement. A sacrifice fly knotted the score, but with the go-ahead run at third, Jarvis got Todd Reese to ground out.
The home sixth opened with an opposite-field Brandon Stewart single to right center, with the redshirt sophomore scooting over to second on an outfield error. Whitcomb then had Presley turning every which way in right with a drive that bounced to the wall for an RBI triple. It was the sophomore shortstop’s third hit of the contest, all to the opposite field, with the first two both on two-strike counts. Eliopulos followed by coolly sending an RBI single to right on a 2-2 pitch.
Eliopulos walked to open the home eighth, moved to third on back-to-back two-out hit-by-pitches, and on the very next toss following a mound visit, scored thanks to a well-wide wild pitch by Wyatt Wentz.
Senior left-hander Preston Mott went 3.0 innings and allowed just one unearned run on two hits and a walk. He struck out two. Jarvis (1-0) earned the win. In his second and final frame in the seventh, another leadoff error and a one-out single got him in trouble ahead of consecutive swinging strikeouts to maintain an 8-6 edge.
For the third game and win in a row, senior right-hander Kyle Lucke registered the final six outs for UC San Diego, now with his first two collegiate saves after a season-opening win. He allowed a hit in each frame, and struck out three.
Whitcomb finished 3-for-5 with a double, triple, run and RBI. Eliopulos was 2-for-3 with a walk, hit-by-pitch, two runs and an RBI of his own.
Despite the four errors, the Tritons made an abundance of strong plays in the field. Arguably the best was last, as Prince snow-coned a catch on a full sprint toward the wall in right for the second out of the ninth. Before that, Eliopulos made up for his first-inning miscue at third base with a diving snare toward the line in the second, and a tough pickup in the third. Brigman retrieved a ball right behind the second-base bag to keep the ball on the infield and momentarily save a run in the fourth before Farhat's two-run single. Baumgartner made a leaping grab to begin the fifth. Eliopulos and Baumgartner also teamed up for a difficult sequence to retire Reese in the sixth.
Game Two - No. 14 UCSD 7, CU 1
UC San Diego bats were quiet over the first three innings against senior Cavalier left-hander Jeffrey Lusink (0-1), with just a two-out walk in the second that was immediately wiped out by a pickoff.
The second time through the order did the trick, however, as the Tritons' first hit of the nightcap came in the form of a two-run, mammoth, opposite-field home run by Baumgartner over the scoreboard in right center. That was in the fourth inning, moments after a one-out walk by Alex Eliopulos. It was his team-leading second.
UC San Diego added a single run in the fifth as redshirt sophomore catcher Aaron Kim, in his season debut, singled through the left side with one away, moved to second on a wild pitch with two outs, to third on an infield single by Whitcomb, and scored as the Cavalier shortstop's throw skipped past the first baseman.
The Tritons broke it open through a four-run seventh. Kim started the rally with a leadoff walk. Stewart's chopper wasn’t handled by the third baseman and went down as an infield single, and Whitcomb walked to load the bags with zero outs for the second inning in a row. The frame before, Garrett Smith had come on for Concordia and gotten through unscathed with a popout and 4-3 double play.
This time, the Cavs weren't so lucky. Jake Roes took over for Smith, and allowed a two-run single to run by Eliopulos. Baumgartner lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center on the very next pitch. With two gone and Tritons at first and second, Alex Athanacio strolled up to the plate as a pinch-hitter in his UC San Diego debut. Facing an 0-2 count, the junior transfer deposited an RBI single in front of the centerfielder for 7-0.
Making his second start, junior right-hander Luke Mattson (1-0) earned his first win as a Triton, firing five shutout frames with four hits and a walk. The Golden West College transfer fanned seven. Mattson's only inning with multiple runners was the third, when he loaded the bases with only one out. An infield fly and called third strike kept the game scoreless.
Brandon Weed (Lemon Grove/Southwestern College/Grossmont HS), like Mattson a junior right-hander and junior college transfer, handled the sixth and seventh with just a one-out double in the sixth and two strikeouts. The seventh, with two groundouts around a flyout, was the Tritons' first 1-2-3 inning of the entire day. The groundouts featured nice plays by Whitcomb and Eliopulos, respectively, as Whitcomb knocked down a hot shot in front of him, and Eliopulos smothered a short hop on his back hand before making the strong throw.
True freshman right-hander Michael Mitchell took over for the final two innings, fanning five. The Cavs did finally break up the shutout in the eighth following a leadoff double. Mitchell almost got out of it with back-to-back strikeouts for the first two of his college career, but Dominic Enbody's opposite-field RBI single landed just inside the left field line. His ninth was perfect with two strikeouts around a popout.
Baumgartner wound up 1-for-2 with a walk, sacrifice fly, run scored and three RBI. Eliopulos went 1-for-4 with a walk, two runs and two RBI. Kim was 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs. Brigman walked twice and was hit by a pitch.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego now leads the all-time series, 8-6, with three straight wins ... Most recently, the Tritons had taken a four-game set, 3-1, to open the 2017 campaign ... Alex Eliopulos started his 79th and 80th straight games, all at third base ... True freshman Ryan McNally made his college debut as an eighth-inning pinch-runner in the first game, and entered defensively at second base to begin the ninth in the nightcap ... Game One: Preston Mott drew his 45th career mound start, still sixth in at least the program's NCAA Division II history, since 2001 ... Steven Schuknecht batted in the cleanup spot for the first time as a college player ... Game Two: Blake Baumgartner's home run was the seventh of his career, third at Triton Ballpark, and third straight to the opposite field in right going back to his final blast of 2018 at the NCAA West Regional in Azusa ... True freshman Michael Fuhrman made his college debut as the starting designated hitter, and was the Tritons' first base-runner of the night, rallying from an 0-2 hole to draw a nine-pitch walk with two gone in the second, and fouling off three straight 2-2 tosses before taking two more balls.
B4: We've got ourselves another #BaumBomb! Obliterated again to gap in right center like his first of season, over scoreboard and deep into #LaJolla night after one-out Elio walk. 2-0 #Tritons! ⛓💪💣 #Baumer #BaumSquad— UC San Diego Baseball (@UCSDbsb) February 12, 2019
🎥 @brianagalvez13#GoTritons 🔱 #UCSanDiego #RoadToCary pic.twitter.com/HbzmzMltaS
B7: Bases loaded, 2-0 count not recipe for success with Alex Eliopulos at dish. He strokes this 2-1 pitch into right for 2-R single. Baum follows on next pitch was sac fly deep to center. #Tritons double advantage to 6-0! 🔱 #GoTritons #UCSanDiego #RoadToCary #CCAAbsb #D2Baseball pic.twitter.com/mQ3UBH3BuX— UC San Diego Baseball (@UCSDbsb) February 12, 2019
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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