LA JOLLA, Calif. - With opening day about a month away, the UCSD baseball team is ranked 30th in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's Preseason Poll.
Defending national champion West Florida heads into the 2012 season ranked No. 1. Francis Marion, located in South Carolina, is second, Central Missouri is third, Grand Valley State in Michigan is fourth and North Carolina's Mount Olive rounds out the top five.
Aside from UCSD, two other California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) squads made the top 40 list. Chico State is tied for 15th with Georgia's Columbus State, while Cal Poly Pomona is just in front of the Tritons at 29th.
First year head coach Eric Newman leads UCSD into the season with several returning positional starters as well as last season's top relief pitcher.
Outfielder Danny Susdorf returns as a junior after earning ABCA First Team All-West Region honors, leading the Tritons in batting average, runs, hits and stolen bases. Sophomore catcher Nick La Face, an ABCA Second Team All-West Region pick in 2011, and sophomore shortstop Garrett Tuck also return.
On the mound, senior reliever Elias Tuma returns after leading the CCAA in appearances and finishing third in saves. Tuma was selected to the ABCA's All-West Region Second Team.
Newman will be looking to replace the wins and strikeouts lost due to the graduation of All-American Tim Shibuya and Guido Knudson. Both starting pitchers were drafted by Major League teams in 2011 - Shibuya by Minnesota and Knudson by Detroit.
Last year, the Tritons were ranked second in CBN's preseason poll. They owned the No. 1 spot in the nation for two straight weeks and finished the season ranked sixth. The team compiled a 42-15 overall record, won its third straight CCAA regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA postseason for a fifth consecutive year.
The 2012 season unofficially begins for UCSD on Monday, Jan. 23 with a 6 p.m. exhibition against Point Loma Nazarene under the lights at Triton Ballpark. A second exhibition warm-up will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 31 against Vanguard, also at 6 p.m. in La Jolla. The regular season opener is Friday, Feb. 3 as UCSD plays the first game of a four-game set against non-conference opponent Western Oregon at home.
Triton Ballpark will host the 2012 CCAA Tournament May 10-12, marking the first time since 2008 that the championships have been held at a campus site.
- UCSDtritons.com -