No. 10 Tritons Maul Coyotes in Series Opener, 19-1
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - The No. 10 University of California San Diego baseball team sent exactly nine men to the plate in each of the first four frames, to the tune of 15 runs, and walloped Cal State San Bernardino, 19-1, in the opener of a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) series at Fiscalini Field on Friday night.
With a second straight road win, first-place UC San Diego improved to 23-7 overall and 18-7 in the CCAA. Last-place Cal State San Bernardino dropped to 13-24 overall and 10-22 in league play. Going back to last year's dominating sweep, the Tritons have taken the last five meetings with the Coyotes, outscoring them a remarkable 88-13. They now hold a 1.5-game lead over San Francisco State atop the CCAA standings.
Friday marked the Tritons' second 19-1 outcome of 2019, having won at Cal State San Marcos by the same score on March 17. They pounded out 15 hits for the sixth time.
UC San Diego capitalized on 17 walks, two hit-by-pitches and five wild pitches. The 17 walks are tied for most in a single game in the CCAA this season, with the Tritons' 16-4 road demolition of Cal State San Marcos to begin a doubleheader on March 17, and Sonoma State's first game of a twin bill March 30 at CSUSB.
UC San Diego was in business early, as Keenan Brigman opened the game with a single and Shay Whitcomb followed with a five-pitch walk off of freshman right-hander Ryan Kurtz, in just his fourth mound start and seventh appearance for the Coyotes. Facing a 1-2 pitch, redshirt senior star Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) managed an opposite-field RBI double down the left field line for the game's first run.
Aaron Kim got ahead 3-0 in the count in his at-bat before accepting a seven-pitch free pass to load the bases, still with no outs registered. Fellow redshirt sophomore Blake Baumgartner dropped an RBI single to the opposite field in right, on an 0-2 offering, as the Tritons went station to station, up 2-0. True freshman designated hitter Michael Fuhrman lifted a sacrifice fly, his second, to center, for a 3-0 advantage.
Junior right-hander Ted Stuka, drawing his third starting assignment and second in a row at the front of the rotation after a string of stellar relief performances, worked out of trouble to notch the shutdown initial frame. His first pitch of the night hit the leadoff man. Stuka rallied to get a called third strike, but a double put two Coyotes in scoring position. He promptly got the next man swinging, and a groundout ended it.
Brigman began the second by pulling his first double of 2019 into left field. The redshirt junior second baseman had two triples as his only extra-base hits thus far on the year. UC San Diego proceeded to load the bases for a second straight frame on a one-out hit-by-pitch to Eliopulos, wild pitch, and walk to Kim, as the Triton catcher took three straight balls outside the zone after falling behind 1-2. Baumgartner's third sacrifice fly of 2019 made it 4-0.
The walk parade continued from there, as Fuhrman drew a base on balls to fill the bags, and Alex Athanacio and Steven Schuknecht followed in turn to force two more Tritons across the plate for a 6-0 bulge. That last one ended Kurtz's night, and a lineout meant that UC San Diego sent nine to the plate for the second straight inning.
Stuka escaped trouble again in the second. A leadoff single didn't look like it was going to hurt him as he retired the next two batters and went ahead of Carter Kimberly in the nine hole, 1-2. But then nine consecutive balls loaded the bases for the home side, before Stuka handled the comebacker for the third out.
Things would continue to get worse for the hosts. Brigman found himself on base to lead off a third consecutive frame, this time with a single through the left side in the third, before swiping second and taking third on a wild pitch. Whitcomb walked and took second himself on a wild pitch, and the game’s first error with Eliopulos at the dish, plated them both for 8-0. Kim laced an RBI double into the left field corner, and scored from third after yet another wild pitch in the frame, on Baumgartner's single.
The five-run fourth came entirely with two outs after Brigman and Whitcomb were both actually retired. Eliopulos' single ignited it, with the rally featuring a two-run single by redshirt freshman Logan White, Jr., and a two-run Steven Schuknecht triple.
Just when it looked like CSUSB could toss a first zero up in the top of the fifth, with two gone through a pinch-hit, leadoff Ryan McNally single and double play, Eliopulos took four straight 0-2 balls, and Kim sent his team-best seventh home run sailing over the left field fence for 17-0.
The Tritons grabbed two final runs in the eighth. Back-to-back walks to Brandon Stewart and Schuknecht and an infield single by senior outfielder Christopher Schasteen loaded the bags, with a lineout McNally sacrifice fly and RBI Whitcomb double, his team-best 15th, scoring the runs.
Stuka went 4.2 innings and allowed the lone run on three hits, four walks to match his season and career high, and a hit-by-pitch, striking out seven. A strange fifth prevented him from earning a sixth straight winning decision, as he walked a pair around a strikeout and infield lineout. An RBI single up the middle ended his outing.
True freshman left-hander Lonnie Morris tossed 1.1 scoreless innings in Stuka's place, and laid claim to an even stranger sixth inning that saw him load the bases on three walks, with three strikeouts around them.
Redshirt sophomore right-hander Zach Tresemer, a first-year transfer, picked up his first win as a Triton, with a scoreless seventh and eighth. It was an impressive performance, as Tresemer worked through a leadoff double and triple, respectively. Sophomore Noah Conlon tossed a clean ninth with two strikeouts of his own.
Brigman was 3-for-4 with a double, three runs scored and stolen base. Kim was 2-for-2 with a double, home run, three RBI, and career highs of three walks and four runs. Baumgartner also was perfect, finishing 3-for-3 with a walk, run and three RBI.
Eliopulos reached base in each of the first five innings, via double, hit-by-pitch, error, single and walk, and scored all five times. Schuknecht had a much-needed effort, going 1-for-3 with his first triple of the year, three walks, a run, hit-by-pitch and three RBI.
Kurtz (1-1) gave up six runs on four hits, seven walks and a hit-by-pitch over 1.2 frames. He struck out none.
UC San Diego and Cal State San Bernardino continue their series on Saturday, April 13, with another single contest, this one at 3 p.m., at Fiscalini Field in San Bernardino.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 66-27, including 57-21 since joining the CCAA for the 2001 campaign ... The Tritons are 37-10 against the Coyotes over the last 47 meetings, since 2007, with five straight wins ... UC San Diego is 6-4 on the road ... Alex Eliopulos started his 106th straight game, all at third base ... Head coach Eric Newman used the exact same batting lineup as the previous game, Monday's series finale at Stanislaus State, with Alex Athanacio starting in center field again ... Ted Stuka drew his third mound start of the year and his college career, in his eighth appearance of 2019 ... Keenan Brigman's third-inning steal was his third in five tries this year ... Logan White, Jr., drove in the first two runs of his college career with his two-run single in the fourth ... The Tritons are 22-1 in 2019 when scoring at least three runs ... The 19-1 victory at CSUSM on March 17 was a seven-inning affair ... The Tritons' 88 runs in these last five meetings with CSUSB have come over 41 innings at the plate ... Prior to Aaron Kim's fifth-inning home run, UC San Diego had not connected on a long ball over the previous five games, though it still now is alone atop the CCAA chart with 25, moving one ahead of CSUSB, with seven less games.
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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