Q&A With Senior Right-Hander Kyle Lucke
Fourth-year senior pitcher Kyle Lucke entered this 2019 season with the most career mound appearances of any current Triton. He is second on the team with seven at the moment, giving him 65 for his career, meaning he will challenge Elias Tuma's all-time program record of 82 from 2009-12. A native of El Dorado Hills, Lucke is a physiology and neuroscience major at Sixth College. The big 6-foot-6 right-hander is just days away from completing his degree requirements, at the conclusion of upcoming winter quarter final exams. Kyle is our latest Q&A guest ahead of this week's four-game series against city rival Cal State San Marcos, beginning with primetime affairs in La Jolla Thursday and Friday night at 6 p.m.
Q: You take a six-game win streak into a city rivalry series against Cal State San Marcos Thursday night. How have preparations gone with the extra week?
LUCKE: Well it's pretty unusual that you get an opportunity to have a week with no games like we've had, so as a team we're taking full advantage of this time to make sure everybody is feeling 100 percent as we head into the second half. That being said, we've been keeping our eyes focused on San Marcos and the rest of the CCAA in practice this week, so we're looking to keep our competitive edge going into this week's series.
Q: What can you say about how the staff has performed thus far this year, boasting the nation's fourth-best ERA at 2.54, with still more reinforcements on the way?
LUCKE: I've been very proud of the way our guys have been pitching so far this season. It seems that throughout the staff, everybody has been contributing to the success we've been having. There isn't a single guy we have that I wouldn't be comfortable throwing out there in any situation. I think that says a lot about the work that each guy puts in to make himself better, and says a lot about the work that (pitching) Coach (Matt) Harvey is putting in to help us put it all together. I'm excited to see where we're going to go through the rest of the season, especially once we start getting dudes like Cameron Leonard and Mark Quinby back and healthy and dominating.
Q: You're one of seven Tritons who were both in Grand Prairie, Texas, two years ago, and Cary, N.C., last season. Including last year's six-pitch ninth in Azusa that earned you the winning decision as UC San Diego booked its trip to Cary, how incredible has it been to take the mound in a CCAA Tournament, NCAA West Regional and NCAA Championship in back-to-back years?
LUCKE: It has been an unbelievable journey, and through the years, I've had the privilege to play around some truly amazing people. There's nothing more fun than stepping on the mound during playoff baseball, and thankfully, I've been put into positions where I could help our team succeed. I'm excited to play a part in going all the way this year.
Q: What was a memory or two that stood out to you the most from these two postseason runs?
LUCKE: My favorite memory has got to be watching Troy Cruz close out the regional championship and send us to our first College World Series in 2017. As two fifth-year seniors, he and Adrian Orozco left it all out on the field that year, and it was awesome to see all their work pay off. Getting to see a guy I looked up to like Troy be on the bottom of that dogpile, has got to be my top moment.
Q: Your parents are present for a majority of your games, all the way down from the Sacramento area, no less. How does that make you feel to look out into the crowd and see them there?
LUCKE: It's incredible the dedication it takes for them to make it down to so many games. I'm grateful for all the love they've shown me and continue to show me, and it really helps knowing that however it goes out there, I'll have them to back me up.
Q: You're a vocal leader as a fourth-year senior member of this team and pitching staff. How do you personally see your role in that Triton dugout?
LUCKE: It has always been a belief of mine that baseball is better played when our guys are loose and focused. I take it upon myself to get our guys locked into the game and give the dugout a fun atmosphere where we celebrate our guys, and we celebrate good baseball.
Q: What are some of your individual goals for this season, as well as for this team?
LUCKE: In terms of individual goals, I want to break the Triton Baseball career record for saves and appearances, and help the team get back to a third straight College World Series appearance. As for a team goal, I want this to be the year that we finally finish the job and bring a World Series title back to UCSD.
Q: You've spent time in Alaska in each of the past two summers, mostly in 2017. What did you enjoy most about that experience up there?
LUCKE: I really loved getting to experience the beautiful outdoors while playing in Alaska. Getting to go out late at night after games and still be able to hike or fish because of the extra daylight was very different and a great experience. I was also very lucky to be hosted by such great families. Both of my host families were awesome, and really helped me feel at home. I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world. I'd watch out for ATVs up there, though. They're killer on the wrist.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your physiology and neuroscience major? How about your favorite part?
LUCKE: The most challenging aspect of my major has got to be juggling the time commitments of school and baseball. Getting through midterms and finals week is always an adventure, but it really has taught me how to manage my time. The best part of my major has got to be learning more about the details of how the human body works. It seems that the more I learn, the more amazed I am with the beautiful machine that we call our body.
Q: When do you expect to complete your UC San Diego degree, and what are your plans for the future?
LUCKE: I'm graduating this quarter, actually. My last final is on Tuesday and then I'm all done. I plan to apply to medical school and study oncology.
Previous 2019 Triton Baseball Q&A Features
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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