Photo by: Mike McGinnis
Junior right-hander Luke Mattson tossed a season-long seven full innings while earning his second win on the mound.

No. 10 Tritons Sweep Coyotes Behind Mattson and Weed Mound Efforts, Eliopulos Walk-Off in Nightcap

UC San Diego

LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 10 University of California San Diego took two low-scoring affairs over Cal State San Bernardino at Triton Ballpark on Sunday to complete its sweep of the four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball series. Game scores were 4-1 and 3-2 in walk-off fashion in the seven-inning nightcap.

Now a winner of five in a row, UC San Diego improves to 26-7 overall and 21-7 in the CCAA. The Tritons hold a 2.5-game cushion atop the conference standings over San Francisco State. Last-place Cal State San Bernardino dropped to 13-27 overall and 10-25 in league play. UC San Diego took the first two games of the set in San Bernardino, 19-1 on Friday night and 8-5 on Saturday afternoon. The Tritons have outscored the Coyotes, 103-21 during back-to-back four-game sweeps the past two years.

A two-rally rally culminated by senior leftfielder Steven Schuknecht's RBI single through the right side broke a 1-1 deadlock in the sixth inning of Sunday's first game.

UC San Diego allowed a pair of unearned runs through an early passed ball and late infield error in the first inning of the nightcap, and nearly didn't make it back from it. Schuknecht's first home run of 2019 led off the fifth to halve the deficit.

The home seventh began with Schuknecht again as the Palm Desert native drew a five-pitch walk. A swinging strikeout and fielder's choice groundout still left Keenan Brigman on first base as the tying run, but with only one out left for the Tritons to play with. That's when UC San Diego's stars really came out to shine. Sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb sent a single into left field, a passed ball moved the winning run into scoring position, and redshirt senior third baseman Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) picked them both up, stinging a two-run single inside the right field line to notch the Tritons' third walk-off triumph of 2019.

Both Whitcomb and Eliopulos' hits came on 2-1 offerings from Jackson Gilmore (0-3).

Eliopulos' walk-off knock also managed to make a winner once more of junior right-hander Brandon Weed (7-0). The Lemon Grove product out of Southwestern College and Grossmont High School laid claim to the first complete game by a Triton this season, going the full 7.0 innings while allowing the two unearned runs, three hits and one walk. Weed struck out four. Sunday marked his sixth starting assignment for UC San Diego head coach Eric Newman. He has won them all, and in fact has now earned the winning decision in seven consecutive outings beginning with a relief stint.

UC San Diego next faces the second of three straight split-venue four-gamers against Southern California foes. The Tritons have Cal State LA beginning Thursday and Friday night at Reeder Field in Los Angeles. Both contests have 6 p.m. starts.

Game One - No. 10 UCSD 4, CSUSB 1
Junior right-hander Luke Mattson (2-2) went a season-long 7.0 innings in his team-best eighth start, allowing the lone Coyote run on five hits and a season-high three walks. The Orange product and transfer from Golden West College struck out four.

Fourth-year senior right-hander Kyle Lucke notched the last six outs for his team-best fifth save of 2019. He ducked around a two-out single in the eighth, and registered a perfect ninth, with two groundouts to Eliopulos at third base around his second swinging strikeout.

Mattson himself had a pair of 1-2-3 frames, in the fourth on nine pitches with bookended strikeouts, and in his final one, the seventh, on six tosses.

The Tritons struck first in the initial frame as Whitcomb singled with one away on an 0-2 pitch to the opposite field in right, moved to second on Eliopulos' right-sided groundout, and scored on redshirt sophomore catcher Aaron Kim's RBI single right back up the middle.

The game was tied in the third. The Yotes' No. 9 hitter, Jacob Allen, dropped an 0-2 pitch just over Whitcomb's head and into shallow left center for a leadoff single, scooted to second on a wild pitch, and scored on Carter Kimberly's RBI double into the left field corner. It was the only extra-base hit against the Tritons all day. Kim threw Kimberly out trying to steal third, for the final out of the frame.

Kim had earlier in the first back-picked reigning CCAA Player of the Week Gabe Chavez off of first after the Coyotes had produced a walk and a single with one away.

UC San Diego regained the lead for good in the sixth. True freshman designated hitter Michael Fuhrman worked a six-pitch walk with two outs, taking three straight balls after falling behind 1-2 in the count. Redshirt sophomore centerfielder Brandon Stewart then accepted a five-pitch free pass, and Schuknecht rolled his first-pitch, RBI single through the hole on the right side.

That started a run of three straight frames with a single Triton tally. Senior rightfielder R.J. Prince opened the seventh with a single to left, swiped his second bag of 2019, and took third as Brigman likewise singled with the count full. Following a pitching change, a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, and instead of breaking the game open, UC San Diego settled for a double play off Eliopulos' bat to plate Prince for 3-1.

The final insurance run came in the eighth, again through a two-out rally and Prince. A strikeout and popout preceded senior Christopher Schasteen’s blooped single into shallow center, and Prince then dropped an RBI double in front of the diving leftfielder, Kimberly, who had misjudged the ball off the bat.

When UC San Diego turned the game's only double play to end the visitor second after a one-out single, it meant a sixth twin killing over nine innings against the Coyotes, with the last five of them of the 6-4-3 variety, as the Tritons had turned a season-high five of them in Saturday's contest.

Prince finished 2-for-4 with the double, run scored, RBI and stolen base.

Game Two - No. 10 UCSD 3, CSUSB 2 (7)
The nightcap started inauspiciously for Weed and his Tritons, as the leadoff man singled, moved to second on a passed ball, and both Coyotes were safe at the corners as Weed tried to cut the lead runner down at third on a sacrifice. An RBI fielder's choice saw the first run come across, and a two-out infield error made it 2-0 CSUSB.

The Tritons were hitless over the first three frames against sophomore right-hander Blake Timm, until Whitcomb lined a 1-2 pitch to left for a leadoff double in the fourth. The Newbury Park product got caught off third on Eliopulos' ensuing single, however. The home side still loaded the bases on a walk to Kim and single by Blake Baumgartner, but Fuhrman lined out hard into the third baseman's glove, and a called third strike kept it 2-0, up until Schuknecht's shot to begin the very next inning.

UC San Diego still threatened for more in that fifth after the solo blast. With two away, Whitcomb doubled down the left field line and Eliopulos walked, and both men advanced on a wild pitch by the new arm on the mound, but Kim grounded out.

Whitcomb finished 3-for-4 with two doubles to increase his team-leading total now to 17. He scored once. Eliopulos was 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBI. Schuknecht wound up 1-for-2 with the home run, a walk, run scored and RBI.

Brigman made a great play to end the third with a runner flying around the bases from first, as he sprinted all the way into foul territory down the right field line, to snare a popup that neither Prince nor Baumgartner were going to be able to get to.

Triton Notes: UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 69-27, including 60-21 since joining the CCAA for the 2001 campaign ... The Tritons are 40-10 against the Coyotes over the last 50 meetings, since 2007, with eight straight wins ... UC San Diego is 19-3 at home ... Alex Eliopulos started his 108th and 109th straight games, all at third base ... The Tritons are 25-1 in 2019 when scoring at least three runs ... The Tritons' 107 runs in these last eight meetings with CSUSB have come over 65 innings at the plate ... UC San Diego has now swept seven doubleheaders in 2019 ... Game One: Luke Mattson earned his team-best eighth start among nine outings now as a Triton ... Aaron Kim threw out his third would-be base-stealer in 12 attempts to end the third ... R.J. Prince's seventh-inning stolen base made him 2-for-2 on the year and for his Triton career ... Prince now has five doubles in 2019 and seven as a Triton ... Game Two: Brandon Weed's sixth starting assignment marked his 10th mound appearance for UC San Diego, all of them Triton wins ... Michael Fuhrman started at catcher for the first time as a college player ... Steven Schuknecht's blast was the seventh of his college career ... Shay Whitcomb now has five two-double efforts in his last 16 games, and is second in the CCAA with 17 ... UC San Diego is a perfect 16-0 when hitting at least one home run.

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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