No. 14 UC San Diego Rolls in Finale With Cavs to Complete Series Sweep
LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 14 University of California San Diego baseball team totaled seven runs over three innings to overturn a 2-1 deficit and cruised past Concordia University, 9-2, Tuesday afternoon at Triton Ballpark. UC San Diego thus completed the sweep of a three-game non-conference series.
Preseason California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) favorite UC San Diego improved to a still-perfect 5-0. Concordia, from Portland, Ore., dropped to 2-6. The Cavaliers are picked fourth in the six-team Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). The Tritons had taken both ends of Monday's doubleheader, 9-6 and 7-1.
Redshirt junior catcher Nick Kitzmann's mammoth two-run home run down the left field line moments after a leadoff walk broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth inning. A four-run fifth then broke things open for the home side.
Fourth-year senior Jonah Dipoto (2-0), making his first start of the season, earned his second winning decision in as many 2019 appearances. The right-hander battled through five complete innings, allowing two runs on four hits a one walk, while striking out a pair. He posted three successive zeroes after a two-run second.
The Tritons struck first with a single tally in the opening frame as sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb led off with a walk, moved to third on an Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) single, and scored on a double-play ground ball.
Concordia doubled that output right away in the second. Dipoto registered two quick flyouts on four pitches, but then threw seven straight balls ahead of a double, with Jake Wikel picking up both runs on a two-out single to left center.
UC San Diego threatened in the home half, again through a leadoff walk, but with men at first and second and one away, successive fielder's choice groundouts to third base kept them chasing a run.
Eliopulos began the third with a single, and scored on the very next pitch as Blake Baumgartner belted an opposite-field double to right center that tailed away from the centerfielder and dropped. With the score 2-2, Baumgartner was stranded at third.
That deadlock did not last long, as true freshman Ryan McNally worked a six-pitch walk to give the hosts a fourth consecutive leadoff batter on base, and Kitzmann drilled a 1-0 offering deep to left for not just his first home run of 2019, but his first hit. The two runs batted in were also the Solvang native's first. Kitzmann entered the game 0-for-10 batting, and was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance.
Senior rightfielder R.J. Prince walked on four pitches with one out to get the big fifth going. Keenan Brigman beat out an infield single, and with two gone, Kitzmann went the opposite way with an RBI single through the right side. Following a pitching change, Brandon Stewart inside-outted a 2-2 toss that also tailed toward the gap in right center and went for a two-run double, his first of the year. Whitcomb then came through with an RBI double of his own down the left field line, for an 8-2 cushion.
UC San Diego's last run came in the eighth as Eliopulos led off with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored easily on Baumgartner's second double of the contest, this time to left.
Dipoto induced five straight ground balls between the third and fourth innings, ducking around a leadoff infield error in the third. The fifth began with back-to-back singles, but he got a flyout, and with Cavs at second and third, registered a swinging strikeout and a groundout to McNally at second to maintain a 4-2 edge.
Brandon Weed, Lonnie Morris, Zach Tresemer and Christopher Buting all tossed a scoreless inning in relief of Dipoto, combining to allow four singles and a walk. Buting, a redshirt freshman making his collegiate debut, picked up his first career strikeout to end the game. Weed's was the only perfect frame, with two flyouts ahead of a popout on nine pitches. Morris, a true freshman, was making his first college appearance, with Tresemer, a transfer from Delta College, his Triton debut.
Kitzmann reached base in all four plate appearances, finishing 2-for-2 with the home run, two hit-by-pitches, two runs and three RBI. Eliopulos was 3-for-5 with two runs of his own. Whitcomb went 1-for-3 with a double, two walks, run and RBI. Baumgartner wound up 2-for-5 with his two doubles and two RBI. Stewart was 2-for-4 with a double, run scored and two RBI.
Starter Ryan Gibson (0-2) took the loss for Concordia, which also used five arms. Wikel went a perfect 4-for-4 and drove in both Cav runs.
The Tritons hope to open a four-game CCAA series with No. 27 Cal State Monterey Bay in primetime this Friday night, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m., but impending weather could alter the weekend's intended schedule. Entry is free for UC San Diego students, and $5 for the public. The teams tied atop the final CCAA standings a year ago at 30-14 each, with the regular-season banner going to the Otters via tiebreaker rules.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 9-6, with four straight wins ... Prior to Monday's twin bill, the Tritons had most recently taken a four-game set from the Cavs, 3-1, to open the 2017 campaign ... Alex Eliopulos started his 81st straight game, all at third base ... Ryan McNally earned his first college start at second base ... Jonah Dipoto drew his 19th career start and now has 10 career winning decisions (10-10) ... Nick Kitzmann's home run was the 11th of his college career ... Kitzmann's two hit-by-pitches were his first of 2019 after finishing second in the CCAA in 2018 with 21 ... Blake Baumgartner hit two doubles in a game for the second time, the other being against Cal State LA in the Tritons' first game at the 2018 CCAA Tournament last May 9 ... Baumgartner is alone in first in the CCAA with his 10 RBI ... UC San Diego has started a season 5-0 for just the second time in its NCAA Division II history (since 2001), having previously done so in 2016 ... The Tritons' 11 hits were a season high.
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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