Bats Silenced as Chico State Takes Series Opener and Snaps No. 8 Tritons' Win Streak at 10
LA JOLLA, Calif. - The eighth-ranked University of California San Diego managed just three hits, all doubles, and were shut out by rival Chico State, 3-0, in the opener of a four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball series Friday night at Triton Ballpark.
In seeing its season-best 10-game win streak snapped, UC San Diego dropped to 17-5 overall and 12-5 in the CCAA. Chico State, now a winner of 11 of its last 12 and a still-perfect 10-0 on the road, moved to 15-8 overall and 11-7 in league play. The Tritons squandered an opportunity to move into first place in the standings. They entered the day half a game back of San Francisco State, which lost at Cal State LA, 9-3.
Chico State opened the scoring via sacrifice fly in the third, and added a two-run, opposite-field single through the right side with the bases loaded by third baseman Jorge Perez in the sixth. That was more than enough offense for the visitors this night.
UC San Diego left 11 runners stranded and went 0-for-13 at the plate with men on base and 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Junior right-hander Luke Mattson (1-2) went 6.0 innings and allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks, striking out three. Freshman right-hander Michael Mitchell handled the remaining three frames, in shutout fashion, giving up just two singles and two walks while fanning a pair.
UC San Diego got doubles from senior designated hitter R.J. Prince with two gone in the second, redshirt sophomore centerfielder Brandon Stewart to lead off the third, and redshirt sophomore catcher Aaron Kim with one out in the fourth. Stewart and Kim both advanced to third. None of them scored. Too boot, that fourth-inning Kim double was the Tritons' last hit of the contest.
Stewart got to third with one away as sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb grounded out, but a popout to shallow center and a strikeout kept him there.
In the top of that third inning, Tyler Grissom, the Wildcats' No. 9 hitter, opened with an infield single and JT Navarro followed suit with a single of his own on Mattson's next pitch. Brandon Hernandez laid down the bunt, as Chico State tends to do, and Dustin Miller lifted a first-pitch fly ball to left field just deep enough to plate Grissom.
Redshirt senior third baseman Alex Eliopulos had a tough-luck night. He first flew out up against the wall in right to Eddie Zavala to lead off the second. Then in the eighth, he hit a laser shot to the opposite field that looked clearly to be a leadoff single, only to be robbed by leftfielder Turner Olson making a great play.
The most positive part of UC San Diego's game came on defense, with several gems of its own. Redshirt sophomore first baseman Blake Baumgartner ventured over and dove into the hole to snare a well-hit ground ball by Perez in the second, and from one knee, threw to Mattson covering for the third out. That, along with the fifth, marked both of Mattson's perfect innings.
Stewart made an incredible catch to save a run in the fourth. Two singles around a pair of outs put 'Cats at the corners. Grissom then lined one into the gap in left center, with Stewart sprinting over and making the sliding grab. In the ninth, Whitcomb gloved a hot shot deep in his hole, and Baumgartner expertly dug out his two-bounce throw across the diamond for the third out.
UC San Diego could not solve junior right-hander Daniel Foret (2-1), who was making his first start and began the game with a season ERA of 8.44. He surrendered just the three doubles and three walks over the first five innings, with three strikeouts. Connor Sealey took the sixth and seventh, Kenton Carruthers the eighth, and Alex Kent the 1-2-3 ninth for his second save of 2019. All 10 Chico State hits were singles.
UC San Diego and Chico State continue their series with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 30. Start time for the first game is 1 p.m. at Triton Ballpark on East Campus in La Jolla. The nightcap is scheduled for a shortened seven innings. Parking is free. Those unable to attend can watch for free all day on UCSDtritons.tv.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego still leads the all-time series, 45-42, including 33-24 over the last 57 meetings and 21-18 in La Jolla ... The series is now an even 34-34 for regular-season CCAA contests ... Alex Eliopulos started his 98th straight game, all at third base, and batted cleanup for the first time in 2019 ... Luke Mattson earned his team-leading seventh start as a Triton on the mound, and first in a series opener ... Keenan Brigman was back in the lineup after missing the previous three games due to injury, batting eighth for the first time this year ... Alex Athanacio ascended to the No. 2 spot in the batting order for the first time ... Blake Baumgartner's 10-game hit streak, which matched the best of his career, was snapped ... UC San Diego is 14-3 at home ... The Tritons were shut out at home for the first time since a 4-0 defeat to Cal State San Marcos on May 7, 2016, with 70 home contests between home shutouts ... Two shutout losses bookended the 10-game win streak, with UC San Diego having lost 9-0 at Cal Poly Pomona back on Feb. 22.
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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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