LA JOLLA, Calif. - The 25th-ranked UC San Diego baseball team tallied six runs over the first two frames in each game and 27 all told in producing the resounding sweep of a non-conference doubleheader over Azusa Pacific University Saturday at Triton Ballpark. Scores for the two nine-inning contests were 11-7 and 16-0.
UCSD is now 29-13 overall with the two results, with APU falling to 26-18. The Tritons won the four-game season series, 3-1, with the sides having split two meetings in Azusa in late March.
In action around the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), No. 6 Chico State swept two games at home from No. 11 Cal Poly Pomona to widen its league lead, with second-place Sonoma State following suit at Cal State Stanislaus. Third-place UCSD, idle from CCAA activity, gained another game on fourth-place CPP.
The Tritons’ early production mirrored itself from game to game Saturday. They sent nine men to the plate in striking for four runs in the first inning of both, as well as then adding a pair in the second. APU had begun the day with a 2.97 team earned run average. The 16 runs in the nightcap were a season high for an opponent.
Nick La Face and fellow senior Justin Rahn were terrors all afternoon for Cougar pitching. La Face reached base in all five plate appearances in game one, finishing a perfect 4-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch, two doubles, a home run, four runs scored and four runs driven in. Rahn, like La Face earlier, launched his second long ball of 2014 in the second game, a two-run shot well over the scoreboard in right in the second inning. For the day, the duo combined to go 10-for-14 with two walks, a hit-by-pitch, four doubles, two home runs, 10 runs and nine RBI. La Face was retired just once, striking out swinging in the fifth inning of game two.
UCSD completes the 2014 regular season with a split-venue four-game series against Cal State San Bernardino in the week ahead. Single games in San Bernardino on Thursday and Friday will be followed by a Senior Day doubleheader at Triton Ballpark Saturday beginning at approximately 2 p.m.
UCSD jumped all over APU ace Josh Staumont (7-4) with four runs on four hits, one walk and one hit-by-pitch under rainy conditions in the first. A one-out Troy Cruz double started things off, with the biggest hits both the opposite field in the way of a two-run single to right by junior catcher Brett Levy on a 2-2 pitch and a run-scoring single to right center by senior shortstop Garrett Tuck moments later. Rahn had dumped a single into center to plate Cruz with the initial run.
In the second, the Tritons got back-to-back RBI doubles from their big bats, as La Face stung one down the left field line to score Cruz and Rahn then smoked his off the base of the wall down the right field line on a 1-2 pitch by Staumont. The sophomore right-hander lasted just 1.1 innings with six runs against him on six hits.
Staumont was tabbed the Division II Pitcher of the Year in Baseball America’s preseason prognostications, and is rated by the national publication as Division II’s top prospect for the 2014-15 drafts, projected as a potential first-round selection with a fastball touching 98-99 mph. He led the Golden State Athletic Conference in strikeouts as a freshman at Biola University a year ago before transferring to APU.
Trevor Scott (5-2) went the first 5.0 innings for UCSD, giving up two runs, one earned, on five hits and two walks. He struck out three, registering three ground-ball outs in a perfect second after gaining the immediate upper hand. Scott also negated a one-out Joseph Daris triple into the right field corner in the third by getting a strikeout and a flyout around a walk. Fellow junior right-hander Chad Rieser had the only other 1-2-3 inning for UCSD, in the eighth with a strikeout and two groundouts. After finding some trouble in the ninth, the Tritons went to Eric Moersen for the final out and the sophomore left-hander’s first save of the year.
Daris drew a remarkable 14-pitch walk in the fifth after a leadoff double by Dusty Sanderson, with the Cougars ultimately producing their first two runs.
UCSD was already up 8-0 by that point, and answered immediately with two more in its half of the fifth. The deficit was too much to overcome despite APU’s late efforts.
To complement La Face, Rahn was 3-for-4 with a walk, double, two runs and two RBI. Cruz was 2-for-3 with a walk, double and three runs scored.
In addition to Rahn’s massive effort, freshman centerfielder Jack Larsen provided his first collegiate home run in the nightcap, a three-run job to right to cap a five-run fourth that made it an 11-0 contest. UCSD rounded out the scoring with a five-run seventh.
Tuck saved the best for last in the big first inning with an 11-pitch, bases-loaded walk drawn after fouling off five 2-2 pitches by APU starter Joel Belk (5-2).
Cruz (7-2) combined with three relievers on UCSD’s sixth shutout. He scattered four singles and walked two while fanning three. Cruz set down the Cougars in order in the second and fifth, and managed to put up zeroes despite allowing the leadoff runner to reach base in the first, third and fourth. He has now earned the winning decision in five consecutive starts.
David Hart tossed a 1-2-3 seventh with a strikeout, popout and groundout, with Javier Carrillo, Jr. doing the same via three ground balls in the ensuing frame. A fourth right-hander, Scott Zeman, took over for the ninth and struck out the final two Cougar batters swinging after a one-out walk.
In his first start of the year, sophomore Andrew Hobson was 2-for-4 with a run scored and a career-high three RBI.
Triton Notes: Troy Cruz is the only Triton to start all 42 games, with 10 coming on the mound ... Cruz has now made 16 pitching starts in his career ... In the opener, Trevor Scott drew his ninth start of the year and 25th of his career ... Nick La Face’s five RBI on the day gave him 133 for his career and moved him up to No. 9 on UCSD’s all-time chart ... La Face’s three doubles increased his team-best total to 17 doubles for 2014, now the joint leader in the CCAA as well ... Sophomore infielder Andrew Hobson made his 2014 season debut as a defensive substitute at first base in the seventh inning of game one, and drew the start there in the nightcap, having not appeared at first base as a freshman in 2013 ... Junior catcher Brian Choi came on as a pinch-hitter in both ends of the twin bill, lining out in game one before going 2-for-2 with a couple of singles in game two, including one off the base of the wall in right on the first pitch he saw ... The Tritons have reached double figures in runs 12 times in 2014, and improved to 21-3 when tallying at least six runs in a game ... UCSD increased its league-leading run total to 286, with Cal Poly Pomona closest at 225 ... The Tritons have hit two home runs in a game twice in 2014.