LA JOLLA, Calif. - UC San Diego benefited from solid pitching and clean defense all afternoon, leading to the sweep of a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball doubleheader over No. 28 Cal State L.A. at Triton Ballpark on Saturday.
The Tritons took the opening game, 10-2, behind six strong innings from starter Blake Fassler and three scoreless frames from fellow junior right-hander David Hart in relief. They then posted a 4-0 shutout in the seven-inning nightcap, true freshman Troy Cruz earning his first winning decision in his first collegiate pitching start with five innings of shutout baseball. The Chula Vista native out of Bonita Vista High School reached base in all five plate appearances in game one with four walks and a hit-by-pitch, and scored three times.
UCSD pitching allowed only one walk all day, and the Tritons went consecutive games without committing an error for the first time this season.
The two triumphs moved the Tritons to 15-12 overall and back to even at 10-10 at the halfway mark of their CCAA season. Cal State L.A., which still ended the day like it began the week, atop the league standings, dropped to 16-11 overall and 14-6 in the conference.
More importantly, the two results meant a much-needed series victory for four-time defending CCAA regular-season champion UCSD, which had split the first two games of the set with the Golden Eagles in Los Angeles, winning 10-7 on Thursday and losing 11-9 on Friday night. It marked the Tritons' first CCAA series success since the opening weekend of league activity in mid-February.
UCSD now takes a break for winter quarter final exams before hosting Cal State East Bay for another four-game league series beginning Thursday, Mar. 28, at 6 p.m.
Through five innings of Saturday's first game, the new scoreboard in right field showed a rare line for the Tritons of seven runs on three hits. UCSD took advantage of four Cal State L.A. errors during that stretch and worked a season-high 12 walks for the contest while not issuing a single one of its own.
Fassler hit the first batter of the afternoon in centerfielder Scott Masik before cleaning it up with a pair of infield popouts around his first of three strikeouts.
Cruz was the sparkplug from the get-go as he walked on five pitches in the home first and opened the scoring on centerfielder Danny Susdorf's double to right center.
After leveling matters on an RBI groundout in the second, the Golden Eagles threatened again in the third, putting two men on with nobody out. Fassler induced three consecutive fly-ball outs, however, the last one deep off the bat of third baseman Tyler Christian which Susdorf expertly tracked down.
UCSD took the lead for good with a pair in its half of the third. The first came on Dillon Moyer's hustle as the junior shortstop walked to lead off, took second easily on a passed ball, alertly continued on to the extra base as the Golden Eagle catcher was slow to react, and trotted home when the throw to third scurried down the left field line. Cruz then walked again, was safe at second via error and moved to third on two successive fielder's choice plays that netted zero outs for the visitors, and was forced home when Nick La Face drew a free pass.
UCSD also put together two-run rallies in the fourth, fifth and seventh frames.
Moyer's infield single plated Corbin Wirta in the fourth before scoring himself on a La Face sacrifice fly.
Cruz finished without an official at-bat with career highs of four walks and three runs, as well as his first stolen base. Wirta added a career-high three walks of his own with two runs and two steals. Susdorf was 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI. Moyer finished 1-for-4 with a walk, two runs, two RBI and a stolen base.
Fassler (4-1) won his second straight start, allowing the two runs on five hits. Hart picked up his first save as a Triton, facing one over the minimum in his season-high three innings as he gave up just a two-out single in the sixth and negated a ninth-inning hit-by-pitch by dialing up a 6-4-3 double play. A popout ended the game.
Triton junior Garrett Tuck made a couple of strong plays at third base, diving toward the line and springing up to throw out Ryan Cooperstone to begin the fourth, and turning away James Wharton to cap the seventh.
CSULA starter Jordan Cavazos (1-2) picked up the loss. Cody Doyle's home run to lead off the sixth was his third of 2013. Masik and Cooperstone had two hits apiece.
The teams combined for eight hit batsmen in the contest, with four apiece.
Cruz took the ball to start from head coach Eric Newman for the first time as a college pitcher, and was unfazed by the club that had the top team batting average in the entire conference at the start of the series, at .325. In the end, Cruz, Scott Zeman, Richard Kilbury and Dan Kolodin combined to blank the Golden Eagles over seven.
Cruz (1-1) went the first five with three hits and a walk against him, striking out a career-high four. His three teammates combined for two perfect frames.
UCSD got all the offense it would need in the first. Moyer beat out an infield single as Cooperstone's throw was a split-second too late after a diving stop. After a sacrifice bunt by freshman Andrew Hobson, Cooperstone sailed his toss to first trying to get Susdorf, and Moyer scooted around third and in with the game's first tally. La Face picked up Susdorf by lifting a double to right center.
Susdorf and Seigel then tagged back-to-back two-out doubles off the wall in right center, Seigel's a two-strike, line-drive missile that hit three-quarters of the way up, to produce a third Triton score in the third.
Wharton sent Justin Rahn to the warning track in the fourth, but the Triton leftfielder made the grab to keep the Golden Eagles scoreless.
With CSULA runners at second and third and two gone after a pinch-hit double down the left field line by Jordan Castro, Cruz's final pitch of the game may have been his best as an inside strike froze Masik.
UCSD added one final bit of insurance in the bottom half when Moyer singled to right with one away, advanced to second on another Hobson bunt and to third on a wild pitch, and scored when Susdorf stung a ball up the middle that squirted through Cooperstone and toward center, the Triton All-American's usual all-out aggressive base-running netting him a third double for the doubleheader.
Moyer and Susdorf each had two hits and two runs for the Tritons.
Brandon Quintero (4-3) was on the wrong end of the decision despite a complete-game effort with seven strikeouts and no walks. Cooperstone had two more hits.
A stellar defensive day for UCSD was capped with two spectacular plays on back-to-back pitches to begin the seventh. Susdorf first gobbled up a second extra-base bid by Christian in full gallop toward left center, before Moyer ranged deep into the hole and came up firing to deny another tough-luck customer on the day in Cooperstone.
Triton Notes: UCSD is 6-5 against ranked opponents in 2013 ... Nick La Face has started 84 straight games ... Richard Seigel has started 64 games in a row, all at first base ... Seigel's game-two double was his 10th ... With five more putouts today, Susdorf's defensive streak without an error extended to his last 94 games and 232 chances dating back to April 29, 2011 ... Susdorf produced three doubles on the afternoon to increase his team-leading season total to 12 and career total to 53, still fifth all-time in program history ... Blake Fassler drew his third starting assignment in a Triton uniform and has not walked anyone over his last 14.2 innings of work ... Corbin Wirta and Garrett Tuck's sacrifice hits in the opener gave them eight and six, respectively, on the year, with Wirta still holding a share of the conference lead ... True freshman Andrew Hobson's eighth-inning double in the first game was the first extra-base hit of his career ... In game one, UCSD drew a season-high 12 walks and reached double digits for the second time in 2013, having previously taken 11 bases on balls in the seven-inning nightcap vs. Cal State Dominguez Hills on Feb. 23.
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