Zander Clarke Named Season's Final CCAA Baseball Player of the Week; Adds West Region Award
SAN RAMON, Calif. University of California San Diego redshirt junior rightfielder Zander Clarke was named Tuesday as the final California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Baseball Player of the Week of the 2018 season, for the week of April 30-May 6.
Clarke led No. 25 UC San Diego to a four-game sweep over crosstown foe Cal State San Marcos, batting .563 (9-for-16) with team highs of nine runs, nine hits, three doubles, two home runs (tied), 10 RBI, 18 total bases and a 1.125 slugging percentage (tied). The Newbury Park native (Newbury Park HS) and first-year transfer from UCLA produced his second two-home-run game of the season in Thursday's opener in San Marcos, getting the Tritons started with a two-run shot in the first, and adding a double and run in the fourth and a solo blast to lead off the sixth. Clarke finished 3-for-4 with three RBI and season highs of four runs and 10 total bases.
Clarke would go on to provide multiple hits and RBI in all four contests, with at least one run in each, and 10 clean putouts in right field. His sacrifice fly got the Tritons on the board Friday in San Marcos, and his two-run single in the fifth inning of Saturday's seven-inning finale turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead in a 9-2 win. Clarke improved his batting average to a season-high and league-best .390. He struck out just once.
Clarke achieved the CCAA Triple Crown for the 44-game league slate, with a .409 average, 61 RBI and 13 home runs. He was the only player in the league to bat .400 in CCAA action, won the RBI race going away by 11 over teammate Alex Eliopulos and 16 over everyone else, and wound up in a two-way tie for first in home runs. Clarke is also still in the running for a CCAA Triple Crown in all games, as he is tops in average (.390) and RBI (65), and tied for third in home runs (13), just three back of the leader.
UC San Diego finishes with six weekly conference awards for 2018, with Clarke a first-time honoree. Junior first baseman Tyler Durna was selected twice, on Feb. 13 and April 17, and Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS), a redshirt junior third baseman, on Feb. 27. A fourth junior, Preston Mott, was the CCAA Pitcher of the Week on March 6. Most recently, senior second baseman Justin Beck earned the April 24 award.
Later on Tuesday, Clarke added National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) West Region Player of the Week distinction. He joins Durna (Apr. 17) and Eliopulos (Feb. 27), with Mott having garnered NCBWA West Region Pitcher of the Week selection on March 6. Clarke becomes eligible for the NCBWA's national award.
UC San Diego (34-15, 30-14 CCAA), a winner of 14 of its last 16 to conclude the regular season, begins its postseason run this week as the No. 2 seed at the 2018 CCAA Championship, which returns to Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton. The Tritons take on fifth-seeded Cal State LA in their opener on Wednesday, May 9, at 3 p.m. UC San Diego was the 2017 CCAA tournament runner-up, West Region champion, and national runner-up, and looks to make another deep, month-long run like last year.