Prince is Regal! Senior's Walk-Off Double Sends No. 14 UC San Diego to Doubleheader Sweep Over No. 27 CSUMB
LA JOLLA, Calif. - Senior rightfielder R.J. Prince hit an opposite-field, two-run, walk-off double into the right field corner on an 0-2 pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning as No. 14 University of California San Diego swept Saturday's California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball doubleheader over No. 27 Cal State Monterey Bay at Triton Ballpark. Scores of the two nine-inning contests were 5-1 and 4-3.
With the two wins, UC San Diego improved to 7-0 overall for the first time in its NCAA Division II history, since 2001. The Tritons are 2-0 in the CCAA. CSUMB fell to 2-6 overall and 0-2 in league play. The two teams shared the top spot in the final standings a season ago, each finishing 30-14, with the Otters coming away with the regular-season banner by virtue of tiebreaker rules. The Tritons are the CCAA head coaches' preseason favorites, with CSUMB favored for third.
The four-game series was supposed to start in primetime on Friday night, heading into a Saturday twin bill, but the schedule was altered due to heavy rains during the week and the effect the wet weather had on the playing surface. The clubs will attempt to complete the set with another doubleheader on Sunday, Feb. 17. First pitch is slated for 10 a.m., weather permitting, at Triton Ballpark on East Campus in La Jolla. Parking is free. Rain is expected, so if one or both games are unable to be played in full, the series conclusion will shift into the President's Day holiday on Monday at 11 a.m.
For those unable to attend, a pay-per-view ($5.99) video stream will be available on UCSDtritons.tv.
Game One - No. 14 UCSD 5, No. 27 CSUMB 1
UC San Diego capitalized on an Otter miscue to score twice in the opening frame, and got long home runs from Blake Baumgartner and Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) to lead off the third and fifth innings, respectively, behind stellar pitching.
In that first, Eliopulos walked with one away and Baumgartner followed with a single to put Tritons at the corners. Steven Schuknecht bounced out to the first baseman, but CSUMB was unable to complete the double play, enabling Elipoulos to score. Baumgartner went to third on the error, and sprinted home on a wild pitch for 2-0.
Baumgartner began the third by belting an 0-1 pitch deep to straightaway center, over 400 feet away, for his CCAA-leading third home run and 11th RBI.
In the fifth, preseason All-American Eliopulos tacked on another run, pulling a 2-1 offering out to right for his first of 2019 after 14 long balls a year ago, all also to right.
UC San Diego manufactured a final tally in the sixth, as Keenan Brigman slapped a leadoff single up the middle, immediately moved to second on a first-pitch sacrifice by Tyler Leskiw, and very importantly swiped third. That allowed him to come home when Brandon Stewart lifted a fly ball down the left field line, for 5-0.
Senior left-hander Preston Mott (1-0) earned his first winning decision of 2019, throwing 6.2 innings and allowing a single run on three hits and one walk. He struck out two. The run was the first earned score against him so far after 14 frames. The Otters broke up the shutout as he departed in the seventh, getting a leadoff double and two fly-ball outs to make the final score 5-1.
Mott's day was done after his own error put a second CSUMB player on base in the sixth, before redshirt junior right-hander Blaine Jarvis took over and put a called third strike across on Mason Allen on the inside corner.
Earlier, Mott needed just nine pitches in a perfect first, and 10 more in a 1-2-3 second. He retired the first eight in order, and had one last clean inning in the sixth with his only two strikeouts.
Kyle Lucke, like Mott a fourth-year senior, registered the final six outs, doing so for the fourth time this season in Triton wins, without allowing a single run. This one was not a save situation, but he fanned three with a single and walk against him.
The Tritons made several stellar defensive plays. Eliopulos dove toward the hole from his third base position and sprung up to make the throw for the first out of the second. First baseman Baumgartner then dove to the ground to his right to knock a hot shot down in the fourth, and was able to find the ball and flip it to Mott covering. Stewart in center field made a catch up against the wall in left center in the fifth. The redshirt sophomore from Temecula then also got a great jump on a drive that followed that leadoff double in the seventh, diving into the gap to prevent the big inning.
Brigman was 3-for-4 with a run and two steals. Baumgartner finished 2-for-4 with the home run, two runs and an RBI. Eliopulos went 1-for-3 with his blast, a walk, two runs and an RBI. Stewart was 1-for-3 with an RBI and his second stolen base.
Game Two - No. 14 UCSD 4, No. 27 CSUMB 3
UC San Diego was held to just six hits, but the Tritons made the most out of them, with Stewart providing a two-run single in the second ahead of Prince's two-run double to walk it off.
Prince started that second-inning rally as well with a leadoff single. Brigman then grounded one up the middle and second baseman Kyle Czaplak had no play at first base. He tried flipping it to shortstop Connor Caspersen, but the two were narrowly unable to hook up to force Prince, the play going down as an infield single. On the next pitch, Leskiw put down his second sacrifice in as many games, and following a strikeout, Stewart sent a two-run single up the middle on the first pitch he saw.
Luke Mattson went 5.1 innings and allowed two runs on three hits and two walks, striking out three. The Golden West College transfer was in full command through five, before allowing back-to-back one-out walks in his final frame. He had retired eight straight at that point, with perfect frames in the first, fourth and fifth.
Kyle Dean worked the count full, and drove a two-run double to right center that tied the game and ended Mattson's strong night.
Fellow junior right-hander Brandon Weed (1-0), himself a first-year transfer from nearby Southwestern College, took it the rest of the way and was rewarded with his first winning decision as a Triton. The Lemon Grove product got a swinging strikeout and a flyout to strand Dean at second in the sixth, and proceeded to give up one run on three hits and no walks, fanning four. His perfect ninth kept the deficit at one.
That run gave CSUMB its first lead of the series, in the eighth, as leadoff stalwart TJ Dove beat out an infield single, made it to third on a flared one-out Dean single again to right, and scored on Brian Morley's sacrifice fly to Stewart in center.
That set up Prince's heroics. Eliopulos tomahawked a 2-2 offering from Austin Wahl (0-1) that looked for all intents and purposes to be a game-tying home run to right to lead things off, but the ball died at the warning track and landed in Dean's glove. Undeterred, Baumgartner accepted a five-pitch free pass for his fourth walk of the contest, a new career high for the redshirt sophomore. As pinch-hitter Nick Kitzmann went to a 3-0 count, a wild pitch moved Baumgartner, but Kitzmann walked moments later anyway. Senior Christopher Schasteen ran for the catcher-by-trade at first, but the Otters went to a pitching change and put Connor Fabing on the hill. The junior right-hander fired a strike past Prince, who then fouled off the next offering, and sliced the 0-2 pitch into the right field corner. Baumgartner was always scoring the tying run, but first-year assistant and third base coach Bryson LeBlanc was waving Schasteen in all the way, who slid in safely ahead of the throw for the walk-off win.
Prince finished 2-for-4 with the double, a hit-by-pitch, run scored and two RBI. Stewart was 1-for-2 with two walks and two RBI. Baumgartner went 0-for-1 with the four walks and tying run.
Sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb made a great play up the middle to save a run and end the third with Otters at first and second after a two-out infield error and Dove single had suddenly turned an easy-looking inning into a nervy situation. Baum extended high to glove Dean's leadoff liner in the fourth.
Weed outlasted Kokko Figueiredo in the eighth, getting the designated hitter to fly out finally after fouling off six straight 1-2 pitches in a 10-pitch showdown.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 38-20, including 35-17 in league matchups ... The Tritons are 6-2 in CCAA openers under Eric Newman, having lost 4-1 at home to San Francisco State last year, and 11-8 all-time ... UC San Diego has won 20 of its last 22 games going back to last year, and is 30-4 since dropping a series in Chico, three games to one, last April 7-9 ... Alex Eliopulos started his 82nd and 83rd straight games, all at third base ... Game One: Preston Mott drew his 46th career mound start, still sixth in at least the program's NCAA Division II history, since 2001 ... Blake Baumgartner's home run was the eighth of his career, and after only one of five were at home a year ago, all three this year have come in La Jolla ... Alex Eliopulos' home run was the milestone 20th of his Triton career ... Keenan Brigman stole two bases in a single game for the first time as a collegian ... At the end of Saturday's first game, senior right-hander Kyle Lucke had appeared four times over UC San Diego's first six games, registering the final six outs in all four wins ... Game Two: Luke Mattson made his third start on the mound as a Triton ... Christopher Schasteen's walk-off run was his first run of 2019.
What...you thought we didn't get it?!— UC San Diego Baseball (@UCSDbsb) February 17, 2019
Walk it off ☝️ time R.J.
Baum walk (4th of game)
PH Kitz walk
Called strike, foul, 0-2 oppo 2B into corner, Baum scores, Coach LeBlanc waving, Schas scores. #Tritons WIN! 🚶🏻♂️📴#GoTritons 🔱 #RoadToCary pic.twitter.com/QHQokC43aT
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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