Photo by: Derrick Tuskan
Senior Steven Schuknecht drove in the second Triton run and walked to set up what proved to be the winner.

No. 10 Tritons Do Just Enough to Hold Off Warriors, 4-3, Salvage Series Split at Stanislaus State

UC San Diego

TURLOCK, Calif. - Tenth-ranked University of California San Diego overturned a 1-0 deficit to take a 4-1 lead, and held off Stanislaus State, 4-3, in the finale of a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) series Monday at Warrior Baseball Field.

UC San Diego thus salvaged the split of the four-game series, and remains unbeaten in sets in 2019, now at 5-0-3.

With the victory, first-place UC San Diego improved to 22-7 overall and 17-7 in the CCAA. Fourth-place Stanislaus State falls to 22-14 overall and 18-12 in the CCAA. The Tritons were swept in Sunday's doubleheader, by scores of 4-2 and 7-3 in seven innings, after taking a 5-1 decision in the opener on Saturday night. The series shifted due to weather concerns from Friday through Sunday, to Saturday through Monday.

The Tritons did all their scoring in three successive innings from the fourth through the sixth, with two initially and then single tallies from there. The Warriors halved the deficit in the sixth, got a run closer in the eighth, and had the tying run on second in the ninth before senior right-hander Kyle Lucke shut the door for his fourth save.

Junior right-hander Brandon Weed improved to 6-0 by tossing 5.0 strong innings. He has earned the winning decision in all five of his starting assignments for head coach Eric Newman, and six outings in a row going back to a relief stint on Feb. 16. A Lemon Grove product out of Southwestern College and Grossmont High School, Weed allowed two runs, one of them earned, on four hits and three walks. He struck out one.

The Tritons turned a season-high three key double plays, their first of the series, after going five games in succession without a single twin killing.

Stan State struck first in the third inning through a two-out rally. Weed needed just three tosses to generate a flyout and groundout, but then a Grant Victor single, infield error and Brandon De La Guardia single to center made it a 1-0 game.

UC San Diego flipped that script with its two-run fourth. Redshirt sophomore first baseman Blake Baumgartner and freshman designated hitter Michael Fuhrman opened with consecutive singles through the left side. With one gone, senior Steven Schuknecht singled through the right side to send Baumgartner scurrying around third base to score the tying run. Fuhrman, who advanced to third on the play, then came home with the go-ahead run on senior R.J. Prince's RBI groundout to shortstop.

Sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb's leadoff walk in the fifth led to a 3-1 advantage. Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) sacrifice him to second, with redshirt sophomore catcher Aaron Kim's single through the left side chasing Whitcomb home.

The Tritons entirely manufactured what proved to be the winner. Schuknecht expertly worked an eight-pitch walk with one gone in the sixth. Redshirt sophomore Brandon Stewart ran for him, and took second on a wild pitch. He then swiped third, and catcher Matt Elser's errant throw allowed the Temecula product to sprint home.

Weed wiped out a leadoff Braeden Oki single in the first with a 3-6-1 double play, getting over in time to cover the bag. He then also got a lineout double play into Eliopulos' glove at third to end the fourth following Weed's first walk with one away. He was perfect in the second.

The final Triton double play was of the 4-6-3 variety in the sixth. Weed was replaced after a lead single by De La Guardia. Redshirt junior right-hander Blaine Jarvis walked Vinny Margiotta on five pitches before inducing the twin killing on Alexis Paz. Lucke took over and with De La Guardia standing on third, gave up an opposite-field, RBI single to Nathan Gutierrez on a 1-2 toss. A three-pitch swinging strikeout ended it.

In the ninth, Lucke fanned Gutierrez and then Grant Bunker swinging on seven total pitches. Pinch-hitter Michael Wyatt then slid a ground ball through the right side and wound up on second with a double. The big Triton closer fell behind 2-0 to another pinch-hitter, Dalton Seymour, but didn't flinch, getting him to pop out harmlessly to Whitcomb.

Whitcomb and Baumgartner each finished 2-for-4 with a run scored. Schuknecht was 1-for-2 with a walk, RBI and stolen base.

UC San Diego has the first of three straight split-venue CCAA sets with Southern California rivals in the coming week. The Tritons first round out this season-long six-game road stretch with back-to-back dates at Cal State San Bernardino's Fiscalini Field on Friday night, April 12, at 6 p.m. and Saturday afternoon, April 13, at 3 p.m.

Triton Notes: UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 53-30, including 53-23 since joining the CCAA for the 2001 campaign ... The Tritons are 28-11 against the Warriors in Turlock, and have still not lost a series to Stan State in 13 years, since 2006 (3-1 in Turlock) ... UC San Diego is 5-4 on the road ... Monday likely marked the Tritons' final game in Turlock, as next year's series is slated for La Jolla, and UC San Diego will head to Division I and the Big West Conference in 2021 ... Alex Eliopulos started his 105th straight game, all at third base ... Brandon Weed drew his fifth straight mound start for the Tritons and his ninth appearance, and has earned the winning decision in all five (27.1 IP, 2.30 ERA, 24 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 6 BB, 10 K, 0 HR) ... Weed's three walks matched his season high, as he has just six now in 37.0 frames, with three each in a pair of outings, and zero in the other seven ... Brandon Stewart's sixth-inning steal was his team-best fifth on six tries, and 15th for his career ... Steven Schuknecht is a perfect 3-for-3 in steal attempts ... Alex Athanacio started in center field for the first time as a Triton ... The Tritons are 21-1 in 2019 when scoring at least three runs.

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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