No. 4 UC San Diego Eliminated From CCAA Tournament by San Francisco State; Looks to Regional Announcement
STOCKTON, Calif. - Fourth-ranked University of California San Diego was downed by San Francisco State, 5-1, in the first elimination game of the 2019 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament on Thursday afternoon. The event is being held for a fourth straight year at neutral-site Banner Island Ballpark, home of the minor-league Stockton Ports.
With the defeat, top-seeded UC San Diego dropped to 35-12 overall. Fifth-seeded San Francisco State improved to 24-20-1, and continues on in the tournament.
UC San Diego will still make the six-team field for the NCAA Division II West Regional, with it just a matter of whether the Tritons have done enough to maintain a top-two position in the region, in order to host at least the first weekend, next Thursday through Saturday, May 16-18. The selection show airs live on NCAA.com this Sunday, May 12, at 7 p.m. PT.
Thursday was the first meeting of the season between UC San Diego and San Francisco State, as the entire intended four-game series up in San Francisco in early March was wiped out by poor weather and field conditions. It was also the teams' first-ever CCAA Tournament matchup, and the Gators' first win at the event in their second appearance, having gone 0-2 last May.
The contest likely marked UC San Diego's last-ever game at Banner Island Ballpark, with the CCAA Tournament looking like it is headed to a campus site for 2020, and the Tritons departing for Division I and the Big West Conference in 2021. They went a combined 12-6 over five CCAA tourney appearances at the venue, taking home two banners, in 2014 and 2018, among their conference-record seven titles overall.
The Gators, as the designated home team, struck first in the opening frame. Jack Harris dumped a leadoff single into left on the second pitch from CCAA Most Valuable Pitcher Brandon Weed (9-1). The junior rightfielder wound up on second as the throw from the outfield was awry. A one-out Brady Dorn double and two-out Antone Self single made it a 2-0 game right away.
San Francisco State threatened again in the third, moving runners to second and third through another leadoff single by Harris, a one-out Dorn single, and a groundout. Weed was able to get Self to ground out to shortstop Shay Whitcomb.
With one gone in the sixth, Prince overturned an 0-2 deficit and worked a seven-pitch walk. Again, nothing came of it, as Whitcomb bounced back to the pitcher for a fielder's choice groundout, and Eliopulos flew out to left center.
The Tritons finally tallied their first run on Blake Baumgartner's leadoff home run in the seventh, an opposite-field shot over the wall in right center. It was his 11th on the year, tying fellow redshirt sophomore Aaron Kim for the team lead.
UC San Diego then advanced runners to the corners as Kim worked a two-out, pinch-hit, six-pitch walk, and freshman second baseman Ryan McNally lined a single in front of leftfielder Harley Lopez on a 1-2 toss from reliever Jeff Piver. Kim got a great read as Lopez played the hop slowly, and made it to third. Redshirt freshman Logan White, Jr., pinch-hitting, flew out to left as SFSU maintained a 2-1 edge.
San Francisco State got that run right back on a two-out, pinch-hit, RBI single in front of new centerfielder Brandon Stewart by Jonah Gonzales in the home half. The Gators then added two big insurance runs in the eighth on a leadoff walk, RBI triple by Dorn, and successful squeeze play.
Weed (Lemon Grove/Southwestern College/Grossmont HS) went 7.0 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits and no walks. The junior right-hander struck out seven. Weed was perfect in the second with back-to-back strikeouts and a flyout, and again in a quick fourth with two groundouts and an infield pop-up. Weed in fact needed just seven pitches in both the fourth and fifth. He set down 11 in a row through the sixth. UC San Diego had won the game in each of his previous 13 outings.
Riley Cleary (4-3), himself a junior right-hander, gave up one run on three hits and three walks over 6.1 frames, striking out three. He had a quick 1-2-3 frame on 12 pitches through two groundouts and a popout. Cleary retired the first seven Tritons in a row, and used double plays that he started, to get out of the third and fourth.
Triton Notes: Alex Eliopulos started his 123rd straight game, all at third base ... Eliopulos, first baseman Blake Baumgartner and shortstop Shay Whitcomb are the only Tritons to start all 47 games in 2019 ... Senior rightfielder R.J. Prince was in the leadoff spot for the 11th straight game ... Senior right-handed pitcher Kyle Lucke was in the designated hitter spot on Eric Newman's lineup card, but was hit for by Steven Schuknecht in the second ... Brandon Weed drew his 10th mound start of the year, making his 14th appearance as a Triton ... The Tritons are 13-8 away from home ... The Tritons are now 24-4 when hitting a home run after back-to-back losses ... The game was attended by UC San Diego great and former Triton head coach Dan O'Brien.
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 37 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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