LA JOLLA, Calif. - The 39th-ranked UC San Diego baseball team scored 20 runs on 22 hits while allowing just one on nine in sweeping a non-conference doubleheader from Holy Names University on Opening Day at Triton Ballpark Sunday.
Scores were 11-1 and 9-0, with both contests of the regulation nine-inning variety. The results moved UCSD to 2-0 to begin the year.
Holy Names (1-3), from Oakland, is a candidate member of the NCAA Division II and is in just its second year as a baseball program in the Pacific West Conference. The Hawks began their season with a doubleheader split at UCSD’s California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) rival Cal State Dominguez Hills on Saturday.
Justin Rahn was the offensive sparkplug on the afternoon. The senior leftfielder provided a three-run double in the first inning of game one to open UCSD’s 2014 scoring account, before connecting on a two-run home run over the center-field wall to put the Tritons on the board in the second inning of the nightcap. He went 4-for-9 with the double, home run, run scored and five RBI on the day, adding a stellar catch sprinting back toward the wall while fighting off the sun to end the top of the second in the opener.
UCSD’s two right-handed starters, senior Blake Fassler (1-0) and junior Dan Kolodin (1-0), tossed five effective frames apiece to register the winning decisions. Fassler took the ball first from third-year head coach Eric Newman and allowed the one run on four hits. He struck out six without issuing a walk. Fassler retired the Hawks in order in the third and fifth.
In his shutout stint later, Kolodin gave up two hits and two walks while fanning three. He walked the leadoff batters in both the first and second, and in fact, Holy Names advanced at least one batter into scoring position with less than two outs in each of the first three frames, but Kolodin was up to the task at hand each time.
Triton debuts came from junior transfers Erik Lewis and Michael Mann with a pair of starts at second and first base, respectively. Redshirt freshman Brandon Shirley and true freshmen Christian Leung and Tyler Howsley all drew their first collegiate appearances, with Shirley directing a 2-2 pitch down the left field line for a double in his first career at-bat in the eighth inning of game one after replacing Leung defensively in the top half. Leung started both games in right field. Shirley came around to score UCSD’s final run in that contest, and later flashed some leather with a tough grab deep to center in the eighth inning of the second game.
It took six pitches for UCSD to load the bases at the very start of the day, on back-to-back hit-by-pitches and a Lewis single. With one gone, Rahn worked the count full and then laced a double that HNU leftfielder Daniel Catalan misjudged, the ball clearing his head and the double clearing the bags for a 3-0 Triton lead.
The Tritons increased their lead with two runs in the third and three unearned scores in the fifth by virtue of a two-out rally ignited by an infield error. Catcher Nick La Face and fellow senior Spencer Frazier provided the key hits in the form of an RBI double and a two-run single in those respective frames. In the seventh, sophomore Troy Cruz (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista HS) drove a first-pitch, two-RBI triple deep to center right on the heels of a two-strike Corbin Wirta double.
Cruz wound up 3-for-4 with the triple, a run, stolen base, hit-by-pitch, sacrifice fly and a career-high four RBI in the game.
Two innings were all UCSD needed in the second meeting, tallying three runs in the second and six in the fourth, when the Tritons sent 11 men to the plate and came up with five hits while also taking advantage of one Holy Names miscue, two walks and a wild pitch. Junior Brett Levy collected a pair of singles and scored once in the inning. Senior Garrett Tuck had a perfect bunt single to first load the bases.
More defensive gems for the day came from Tuck handling a tough, high hop to open the seventh and Mann making a nice stab of a skipped Howsley throw from shortstop in the eighth of game one, and later a running catch by centerfielder Wirta in the gap in right center in the fourth.
Newman’s bullpen use was identical in the twin bill. Adrian Orozco (Chula Vista/Otay Ranch HS) replaced Fassler for three shutout frames before Scott Zeman threw the ninth. The senior closer allowed a leadoff single and a one-out hit-by-pitch before slamming the door with a 4-3 double play started by Lewis. Orozco retired the first five Hawks he faced, all on the infield. Then junior left-hander Chad Rieser struck out three over 3.0 innings in relief of Kolodin. Cruz tossed a perfect ninth.
UCSD hosts CCAA foe Cal State L.A. in another doubleheader to kick off a three-game set with the Golden Eagles next weekend which does not count toward the conference schedule. First pitch on Saturday, Feb. 8, at Triton Ballpark is slated for 2 p.m. Cal State L.A. is the reigning CCAA tournament champion.