No. 14 UC San Diego Clubs Sonoma State, 14-3, to Wrap Up Weekend Series Sweep
LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 14 University of California San Diego scored in every inning but the second, broke open a close game and romped over Sonoma State University, 14-3, to complete the sweep of a four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball series Sunday at Triton Ballpark.
UC San Diego improves to 13-4 overall and 8-4 in the CCAA, on the strength of a six-game win streak coming off a four-game skid. Sonoma State heads home to Rohnert Park at 4-8 overall and 3-6 in league play. The Tritons had swept Friday's doubleheader in the weather-altered set, by final scores of 14-4 and 1-0 in 10 innings, and taken a 7-3 decision on Saturday night.
Nine of UC San Diego's 14 runs came with two outs, including eight in a row after the initial tally in the first, and four generated entirely after two were retired. The Tritons had also produced 14 runs on 15 hits on Friday against the Seawolves.
Redshirt sophomore catcher Aaron Kim (Orange/Orange Lutheran HS) completed a memorable weekend, adding a two-out, two-run double to the opposite field and tailing into the gap in right center in the sixth. He finished 6-for-14 (.429) with four runs, a double, three home runs and 10 RBI, and slugged 1.143 with 16 total bases.
Back in the leadoff spot for the first time since Feb. 16, sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb made head coach Eric Newman's move pay off, smacking his first home run of 2019 with two outs in the fourth. It was a solo shot to the opposite field in right after fouling off a 3-2 offering, and gave the hosts a 3-1 edge.
The player that Whitcomb directly swapped spots with in the Triton order, redshirt sophomore centerfielder Brandon Stewart, also provided Newman with a big hit, slapping a two-run triple into the left field corner with two outs and also facing a 3-2 count in the fifth that turned a precarious 3-2 edge into a more comfortable 5-2 lead. Stewart was 0 for his previous 13 with six strikeouts since beginning the series with back-to-back singles to lead off the first two innings Friday, moving down to eighth.
Junior right-hander Brandon Weed (3-0) threw 5.1 innings and allowed all three runs, only two of them earned, on seven hits. The first-year transfer from Southwestern College (Lemon Grove/Grossmont HS) did not walk a batter, and struck out a pair. Weed put together a pair of perfect shutdown frames in the second and fourth.
Despite being pinned with the only error of the game by either team, Whitcomb also made a couple of stellar defensive plays. He ran into left field for an over-the-shoulder basket catch after a leadoff single in the first. The Newbury Park native then was perfectly placed when Weed dialed up the ground ball for a 6-3 double play to end that inning without a Seawolf run across. Finally, Whitcomb ranged all the way over to where the second baseman would normally be, with the Tritons playing a slight shift, and fired to Blake Baumgartner to cap a 1-2-3 eighth for senior Jonah Dipoto.
UC San Diego had threatened a blowout from the very get-go, as Sonoma State's starting pitcher, senior right-hander Michael Byerline out of La Mesa (Grossmont HS), threw just 11 pitches, 10 of them balls, for a walk, hit-by-pitch, walk and bases-loaded hit-by-pitch before being replaced. Sir Gomez (0-2) accepted the tall task, and got a swinging strikeout on Kim and a routine 6-4-3 double play to limit the damage to one.
A leadoff double in the third and two-out RBI single, the latter just the third hit of the year for Anthony Clyma, suddenly tied the score, but the Triton offense kept coming.
Redshirt junior leftfielder Keenan Brigman came up clutch in the third by rolling a two-out, RBI single through the left side after Steven Schuknecht had been hit and stole second ahead of a walk to Kim. UC San Diego led for the remainder.
Immediately following Whitcomb's shot in the fourth, Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) lifted a double to the base of the wall in right center, but was stranded there.
Brigman and Alex Athanacio's back-to-back two-out singles set the stage for Stewart in the fifth. Brigman was running all the way and made it to third, before Athanacio swiped second. With two away in the sixth, Kim picked up Tritons on second and third after a leadoff walk to Whitcomb and one-out single by Baumgartner.
The seventh was a third straight frame with two UC San Diego scores, as senior R.J. Prince sent a pinch-hit, two-out, two-run single up the middle with the bases full.
The Tritons batted around during a five-run eighth, notching four hits. Brigman's leadoff infield single ignited that big rally. He scored on a passed ball, ahead of a second bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, this time to Eliopulos. True freshman Michael Fuhrman's (Rolling Hills Estates/Palos Verdes Peninsula HS) first collegiate hit was a two-run single dumped right in front of the diving Clyma in center. A pinch-hit, RBI double into the right field corner by junior transfer Tyler Leskiw capped the scoring.
Lonnie Morris replaced Weed after a leadoff bunt single and one-out double in the sixth. The true freshman left-hander induced an RBI groundout and got a strikeout to maintain a 5-3 edge. Dipoto faced just five batters and registered six outs. Morris walked the leadoff man in the seventh and was behind 2-0 to the next batter when the change was made. That Seawolf also drew a free pass, credited to Morris, but Dipoto got a fielder's choice groundout followed by an around-the-horn double play.
Redshirt sophomore right-hander Zach Tresemer ducked around a two-out single in the ninth.
Brigman collected his second career four-hit game, going 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. Eleven Tritons had at least one hit. Freshman Ryan McNally was the only other one with more than one, at 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs. Whitcomb was 1-for-3 with his home run, three walks, one RBI and a career-high four runs scored. Fuhrman, Prince, Kim and Stewart knocked in two apiece, with Eliopulos scoring twice.
UC San Diego will fly to the Bay Area this Thursday evening, March 7, for a four-game series against San Francisco State Friday through Sunday, March 8-10. The exact venue for that series could be altered during the week, as the Gators' Maloney Field is not in good shape due to heavy rains in Northern California in recent weeks. San Francisco State swept Cal State San Marcos in San Diego this weekend, to remain undefeated at 9-0-1 overall and a perfect 7-0 atop the CCAA standings.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 45-33, and has won nine of the last 10 meetings over the past three years ... Alex Eliopulos started his 93rd straight game, all at third base ... Eliopulos did finish the game at first base, moving across the diamond in the ninth and appearing there for the first time as a Triton ... Brandon Weed drew his second mound start for UC San Diego, marking his sixth appearance in all on the year ... Steven Schuknecht's third-inning steal was his second in as many tries this season ... Shay Whitcomb's sixth collegiate home run was his second at Triton Ballpark, and first to right field there ... Eliopulos' fourth-inning double was his fourth, tying him for the team lead ... Alex Athanacio's fifth-inning stolen base was his first as a Triton ... Brandon Stewart's triple was his second, tying him for the team lead, and fourth of his college days ... Aaron Kim had 10 RBI in the series after totaling eight as a redshirt freshman in 2018 ... Keenan Brigman's first collegiate four-hit game was in the opener at the 2018 NCAA West Regional against Point Loma last May 17, as he went 4-for-6 ... Arjun Nichani, a true freshman and San Diego product out of Canyon Crest Academy, made his college debut in the ninth, entering at third base and throwing out the leadoff batter ... In attendance was Jerry Dipoto, the father of Jonah Dipoto and general manager of the Seattle Mariners … Dipoto was the only Triton pitcher with multiple appearances this weekend, with three, earning a win and a save while allowing no runs and no hits in 3.1 innings ... UC San Diego is 12-2 at home.
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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