SAN DIEGO - Troy Cruz and Jack Larsen, both standout seniors in the University of California San Diego baseball program, were announced last Thursday, June 1, as San Diego Hall of Champions (SDHOC) Stars of the Month for May.
UC San Diego just concluded its fantastic 2017 campaign last Sunday, June 4, as NCAA Division II national runner-up and West Region champion, at 44-19 overall. The runner-up placement matches the program's best, with the 44 wins second-most all-time. The Tritons claimed their third Division II West trophy.
Cruz, a fifth-year right-handed pitcher and Chula Vista native out of Bonita Vista High School, made five appearances in May with four starts, going 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA, 21 strikeouts and nine walks over a team-high 30.0 innings pitched. His highlight was a complete-game masterpiece on the first night of the West Regional (one earned run), as UCSD swept through the tournament in Azusa and won its first West crown since 2010. Cruz in fact came back on Monday afternoon after the Thursday night start, to register the last three outs in the final and take his rightful place at the bottom of the Triton dog pile. He also went 8.0 strong innings to begin the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship, and 7.0 frames to start the NCAA Championship in Grand Prairie, Texas, a contest which UCSD ultimately dropped 6-5 in 12. Cruz made the All-Tournament Team of both the CCAA Championship and NCAA West Regional. The local product is now a three-time SDHOC Star of the Month, as well as a 2014 SDHOC Star of the Year.
Larsen carried UCSD throughout an incredible month of May. The rightfielder hit a team-best .456 (31-for-68) and slugged exactly 1.000, with 13 doubles, eight home runs, 29 runs, 30 RBI, 19 walks, and a .580 on-base percentage, all team highs. He fielded all 40 defensive chances cleanly, including three outfield assists. He extended his reached-base streak to 42 games, a new program record for the Division II era, since 2001. That stretch made it all the way through his final appearance for UCSD, to 45. Larsen was honored as the CCAA Championship Co-Most Outstanding Player, and also was chosen to the NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team and NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team. With three walks in the national semifinal on June 3 in Texas, he broke UCSD's all-time record, finishing with 144.
For May, five of the six amateur honorees were baseball players.
Each month, the San Diego Hall of Champions honors as many as four professional, six amateur and six prep athletes as Stars of the Month for their outstanding athletic accomplishments. Stars of the Month are recognized in the San Diego Union-Tribune, via the Hall of Champions' app, social media channels and website, on-field at Petco Park prior to a Padres game, and at the annual Salute to the Champions awards dinner. And, top-performing Stars of the Month will also earn Star of the Year accolades. Those considered are either from San Diego, or have achieved stardom for local teams.
May Stars of the Month will be recognized on-field at Petco Park prior the Padres' game against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, June 27.
Seven Tritons have been named a San Diego Hall of Champions Star of the Month so far in the 2017 calendar year:
• Beth Mounier, women's basketball (January)
• Adam Klie, men's basketball (February)
• Gabriel Hernandez, men's swimming & diving (March)
• Taly Yukelson, women's fencing (March)
• Tyler Durna, baseball (April)
• Troy Cruz, baseball (May)
• Jack Larsen, baseball (May)
ABOUT THE HALL OF CHAMPIONS
The "Hall" is dedicated to recognizing and celebrating outstanding local athletic achievement and providing sports programming to the community. The Hall was launched by the Breitbard Athletic Foundation, which was founded in 1946 by the legendary Bob Breitbard to recognize significant athletic achievement in San Diego. Through its awards and recognition programs and vigilant focus on the community of San Diego and its betterment, the Hall is devoted to motivating and inspiring youth of all ages to reach their full potential. For more information, please visit www.sdhoc.com.