The UC San Diego baseball team finally embarks on its 2014 campaign this weekend, with Opening Day set for Sunday, Feb. 2. A non-conference doubleheader with visiting Holy Names University is slated for an 11 a.m. first pitch at Triton Ballpark. Both contests are scheduled for the regulation nine innings, with approximately a 30-minute break in between.
General admission tickets to all regular-season home games at Triton Ballpark are $5, and are available for purchase beginning one hour prior to start time. All UCSD students are admitted FREE with valid identification. Parking on the UCSD campus is free on weekends, but a permit is required and strongly recommended for weeknight contests. They can be purchased at the machine near the entrance to the Triton Ballpark parking lot.
All UCSD home games at Triton Ballpark feature a live online video stream and live stats. Select weeknight contests will additionally have audio commentary. The audio/video is free, but does require registration and a login. Fans can access all live coverage for home and away dates from the Schedule/Results page. Finally, starting lineups, live between-inning updates and other in-game news and notes can be found during home contests and some road games by following Triton Baseball all season long on the UCSD Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons).
ABOUT THE HAWKS
Holy Names University hails from the Bay Area in Oakland. The Hawks are members of the NCAA Division II (candidacy) and the Pacific West Conference (PacWest). They were picked to place seventh in the nine-team PacWest's preseason coaches' poll. HNU finished 15-35 overall and 11-25 in the PacWest a year ago. The Hawks open the 2014 campaign with a doubleheader at UCSD's league rival Cal State Dominguez Hills at 11 a.m. on Saturday, prior to heading further south to La Jolla. John Carrion is in his second season in charge at Holy Names, which only just began a baseball program ahead of its inaugural 2013 season.
Sunday will mark the first-ever meetings between the schools in baseball.
UCSD appeared in the No. 39 position in the preseason edition of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's NCAA Division II top-40 poll, released back on Dec. 24. The Tritons did not make it onto any of the other three national rankings in Division II college baseball. UCSD is No. 10 in the preseason National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) West Region listing.
PLENTY OF TALENT BACK
UCSD's 37-player 2014 roster features 18 letterwinners, two returning redshirts and 17 newcomers. The Tritons bring back six of nine position starters, as well as three of four starting pitchers from a year ago.
Head coach Eric Newman welcomes back 2013 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Freshman of the Year Troy Cruz, who was also an All-CCAA First Team honoree after a standout rookie campaign as a dual threat on the mound and in the field. The senior tandem of fifth-year catcher Nick La Face and fourth-year infielder Garrett Tuck were both All-West Region selections in 2012 and are each former All-CCAA First Team picks themselves, with Tuck in 2012 and La Face in 2011. Tuck earned that distinction at shortstop, and looks to be back at that position after spending 2013 at third base. Spencer Frazier and Justin Rahn are two more returning seniors who garnered All-CCAA honorable mention in 2012.
On the mound, senior Blake Fassler has the inside track to be the lead starter, and is joined by junior Dan Kolodin and a third right-hander in Cruz in reprising their roles in the rotation. Senior right-hander Scott Zeman should be the closer after notching a team-best four saves in 2013, with junior Chad Rieser a top left-handed specialist out of the bullpen.
Of the 17 players new to the roster, junior Erik Lewis and freshman Christian Leung started all three exhibition dates at second base and right field, respectively. Lewis spent the 2013 season at Fullerton College after beginning his college career at Division I Big West Conference power Long Beach State. Tyler Howsley (SS), Jack Larsen (CF) and Michael Mann (1B) also saw extensive action, with Larsen and Mann (Diablo Valley College) drawing two starts each. Howsley and Larsen were teammates at Capistrano Valley High School. The only new arm to see time in the preseason was Eric Moersen, a sophomore left-handed specialist who transferred from the University of Utah and struck out the only batter he faced against Cal State San Marcos (1/21). Eight newcomers are slated to redshirt.
UCSD is 1-1 in openers under Eric Newman and 10-3 since moving to Division II status for 2001 ... The Tritons last began a season with a doubleheader in 2004, sweeping a home pair from Regis ... Troy Cruz was named on Wednesday to the utility position on the 15-player NCBWA Preseason All-West Region First Team ... UCSD was picked to place sixth in the 2014 CCAA regular-season race by the league's 11 head coaches, also as announced this past Wednesday, with 2013 West Region runner-up Chico State favored for the third time in as many years to finish first, and reigning CCAA regular-season champion Cal State Monterey Bay projected for second ... All but two players on the 37-man 2014 roster, junior pitcher Alon Leichman (Kibbutz Gezer, Israel) and redshirt outfielder Tim White (Stratford, CT), are California natives ... Besides Cruz (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista HS), the four remaining San Diego products are fellow sophomore Adrian Orozco (Chula Vista/Otay Ranch HS), redshirt freshman Austin Hensley (San Diego/Valhalla HS) and redshirts Steven Coe (Valley Center/Valley Center HS) and Gabe Simpson (Encinitas/Cathedral Catholic HS).
UCSD's 2014 schedule consists of 50 regular-season games, including 26 at home within the friendly confines of Triton Ballpark. The Tritons have the luxury of facing the two projected favorites in the CCAA, Chico State and Cal State Monterey Bay, a combined eight times in La Jolla. UCSD will play 20 of its first 25 at home, but close with 19 of 25 on the road. For the second year in a row, the CCAA Championship will be held at Stockton's neutral-site Banner Island Ballpark, home of the Stockton Ports, the Class A Advanced affiliate of Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics. The four-team tournament takes place May 8-11, with UCSD a five-time champion (2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).
HEAD COACH ERIC NEWMAN
Eric Newman enters his third season as the UCSD head coach. The 2012 CCAA Coach of the Year has a 59-48 record (46-34 CCAA) in charge of the Tritons and 154-120 overall in his five seasons as a head coach. Newman guided UCSD to the 2012 CCAA regular-season and tournament titles in his first go-around in La Jolla. He previously spent three years at the helm of Dallas Baptist University from 2004-07.
UCSD went 3-0 in three January exhibitions at home in this 2014 lead-up. UCSD throttled Vanguard this past Tuesday night, 13-0, and Cal State San Marcos exactly one week prior, 19-0. CSUSM was rated No. 16 in the NAIA preseason projection. The Tritons previously blanked San Diego Christian, No. 22 in the NAIA, 4-0 in its first warm-up tilt back on Jan. 17. All told, UCSD scored 36 runs while its pitching staff allowed only 13 total hits and three walks against 35 strikeouts over 27 shutout frames in the three games. The individual story of the exhibition season was Justin Donatella. The big 6-foot-6 right-hander who saw just 13.2 innings of work as a freshman in 2013 (11.20 ERA), wrapped up his preseason with nine complete frames over two starts with six hits allowed, all singles, no walks, and 14 strikeouts.
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Following Opening Day this Sunday, UCSD will take on CCAA foe Cal State L.A. in a three-game non-conference series next weekend. The Tritons and reigning CCAA tourney champion Golden Eagles will contest a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. in La Jolla on Saturday, Feb. 8. The set will wrap up with a single game at Reeder Field in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 9, also at 2 p.m.