ROHNERT PARK, Calif. - The No. 12 University of California San Diego baseball team wiped out a pair of early deficits to sweep a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) doubleheader from host Sonoma State University at Seawolf Diamond on Saturday. Final scores were 7-3 and 5-2 in the shortened seven-inning nightcap.
The two wins move UC San Diego to 14-6 overall and 10-5 in the CCAA. Sonoma State dropped to 8-9 overall and 4-7 in league play. The Tritons had taken Friday afternoon's opener by the final score of 7-4. They are up to second in the conference standings, behind Chico State (9-3), as the first team to reach 10 CCAA wins.
UCSD was down 2-0 after one and 3-1 through five innings in game one Saturday before scoring in each of the final four frames, a six-run haul. The Tritons then surrendered a second-inning opener in the second meeting before flipping the score in their favor. Friday's initial meeting had also seen UC San Diego rally, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 7-1 bulge with three in the eighth and four more in the ninth.
The Tritons will look for their first CCAA series sweep of 2018 as it concludes with a single finale on Sunday, March 11. First pitch at Seawolf Diamond is set for 11 a.m. Only live stats are available this weekend, here.
Game One - No. 12 UCSD 7, SSU 3
UC San Diego's day started on the sloppy side as it allowed two unearned runs on two infield errors in the home half after going down quietly in order in the top of the first.
The Tritons cut that margin in half through a first collegiate home run by true freshman shortstop and leadoff hitter Shay Whitcomb (Newbury Park/Newbury Park HS), to left center with one away in the third.
Sonoma State answered through a two-out RBI double in the fourth after a leadoff hit-by-pitch, but then UCSD went to work.
Eight straight Tritons had been retired by starter Dominic Garihan since Tyler Durna followed Whitcomb's blast with a double. The junior first baseman came back around to begin the sixth, and his five-pitch walk netted a single tally as Durna moved to second on a one-out wild pitch and scored on an error.
Keenan Brigman opened the seventh with a single to left, Steven Schuknecht sacrificed him to second, and redshirt sophomore catcher Nick Kitzmann pulled an RBI double down the left field line. Whitcomb's single put Tritons at the corners, and with two gone after a Durna lineout and a pitching change, star third baseman Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) sent an opposite-field RBI double down the left field line on a 2-2 pitch to give UCSD its first lead of the afternoon at 4-3.
The Tritons surged further ahead in the eighth on Kitzmann's first home run of the campaign, a two-out, two-run shot to left after a four-pitch leadoff walk to Justin Beck.
One final insurance tally came in the ninth. UCSD loaded the bases on a Durna walk and singles by Eliopulos and Zander Clarke around a pitching change. Brandon Stewart's RBI fielder's choice grounder plated Durna.
Blaine Jarvis (1-0) earned the winning decision after getting in and out of a jam in the sixth, registering only the third and final out. The redshirt sophomore right-hander entered with a runner at first and two outs, walking the next two Seawolves to fill the bags before inducing an inning-ending ground ball.
That was in relief of starter Kyle Lucke, who drew his sixth career start and first since March 13, 2016. The big junior right-hander went 5.2 innings and allowed three runs, just one of them earned, on four hits and one walk. He hit two and struck out two. Lucke cleaned up a one-out infield single in the third with a 4-6-3 double play, and a one-out walk in the sixth with a 6-4-3 twin killing.
Ted Stuka threw the final three frames and picked up his third save, all now of three or four innings. The sophomore right-hander set Sonoma State down in order in the seventh, navigated around a one-out error in the eighth, and got three successive fielder's choice grounders to Whitcomb after a leadoff walk in the ninth.
Whitcomb, Eliopulos, Brigman and Kitzmann finished with two hits apiece as UCSD out-hit the home side, 10-4. Kitzmann was 2-for-4 with the double and home run, both on 1-0 counts, two runs and three RBI. Durna went 1-for-3 with his fourth double, two walks and two runs.
Garihan (1-2) took the loss, going 5.2 innings and giving up four runs, three earned.
Game Two - No. 12 UCSD 5, SSU 2 (7)
Whitcomb and Durna drew back-to-back walks for starters, but UC San Diego was unable to turn that into an early lead. Senior right-hander Mitch Hickey took the hill for his first inning of work and fanned the side in order, the latter two swinging.
Justin Beck led off the second with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on Brigman's right-sided groundout, but was stranded there.
Sonoma State's cleanup hitter, Joshua Montelongo, then opened the home half with a double, scooted to third on a flyout, and scored the game's first run on a groundout.
UC San Diego put its leadoff man on for the third straight frame in the third and pushed across two runs to gain a 2-1 edge. Whitcomb singled and Durna walked. Eliopulos laid down the bunt, but pitcher Tyson Canfield threw the ball away, scoring Whitcomb and putting the remaining Tritons both in scoring position. Clarke's RBI groundout scored Durna. They still loaded the bases with only that one out, but a play at the plate and a flyout limited the damage for Canfield.
The Tritons added a tally in the fifth as Eliopulos singled to lead off, advanced to second on a passed ball, to third on a Clarke flyout, and scored on a clutch RBI single to center by senior designated hitter Jesse Moore.
Hickey allowed a second leadoff double in the sixth and exited after a groundout, with the Seawolf runner not advancing. Bryce Nagata greeted Cameron Kurz (Encinitas/La Costa Canyon HS) with an RBI double, before the redshirt junior right-hander got a called third strike and an inning-ending groundout to strand the tying run at second.
UC San Diego loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh on an Eliopulos walk, Clarke single and hit-by-pitch to Moore. Following a pitching change and strikeout, Brigman came through with a huge opposite-field RBI single to right, and pinch-hitter Aaron Kim drew a walk to force in Clarke for a 5-2 cushion.
That's all the Tritons would get there, but Kurz got successive flyouts to Clarke in right from the 4-5 hitters to open the home half, and then struck out his second batter for a sixth save on the year, and fourth in the past six games.
Hickey (2-2) allowed two runs on three hits and one walk, striking out four over 5.1 innings. He retired nine of the first 10 Seawolves he faced, only letting up the Montelongo double between a clean first and third. Hickey brushed aside a leadoff infield single in the fourth with a 6-4-3 double play before getting Montelongo to fly out that time. He then wiped out a leadoff walk, his only one of the afternoon, with a 4-6-3 twin killing and another groundout in the fifth. Hickey faced one over the minimum through five, with nine ground-ball outs in all.
"Mitch did a great job this week making some adjustments, and it really showed up today," remarked UCSD head coach Eric Newman. "He was efficient and threw strikes with three pitches. He gave us a great start and one he can build on for the future."
Moore and Beck each provided two hits, with Whitcomb and Durna both walking twice. Eliopulos was 1-for-2 with a walk, two runs, and his first sacrifice hit of 2018.
Canfield (1-2) went 5.0 innings and gave up three runs on six hits and three walks, striking out two. His lone 1-2-3 frame came in the fourth. Sonoma State again managed only four hits.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego has won four straight for the first time this season, all on the road ... Alex Eliopulos and Zander Clarke are the only two Tritons to start all 20 games thus far ... In addition to league victories (10), UCSD also has the most overall wins among CCAA teams, with 14 ... Game One: Tyler Durna was charged with his first fielding error of the season in the first inning, after 85 clean chances to start the year, and a total of 233 in a row going back to his last error on May 6, 2017 ... Nick Kitzmann produced his first two-hit game of 2018 ... Game Two: Aaron Kim's pinch-hit, bases-loaded walk in the seventh marked the redshirt freshman's first plate appearance since a start at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Feb. 24 ... Cameron Kurz now has a single-season career high of six saves, second in the CCAA, with 11 career saves.