Defending West Champion Against Reigning CCAA Double Winners: Tritons and 'Cats Square Off in Chico
The University of California San Diego baseball program heads back up to the Bay Area for the third and final time during the 2018 regular season, for another four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) series. The Tritons (19-10, 15-9 CCAA) fly north on this occasion on Thursday evening, April 5, to take on preseason CCAA favorite Chico State (18-14, 14-12 CCAA) at Nettleton Stadium. With rain expected in the area, the schedule was already altered on Thursday afternoon, and has shifted a full day backward. It will now begin on Saturday, April 7, still in primetime at 6 p.m. Sunday's doubleheader starts at 12 p.m., with the nightcap a shortened seven innings, and about a 40-minute gap in between contests. The Tritons will remain in Northern California an extra day than originally planned, and Monday's single getaway game is at 11 a.m. There will be no attendance charge on Monday. Please stay tuned for any further updates at UCSDtritons.com, and/or on relevant Twitter outlets (@UCSDtritons, @UCSDbsb).
Now just past the midway point of the 44-game CCAA slate, UC San Diego is in a two-way tie for second place with Cal State LA (18-11, 15-9 CCAA). Both sides are a full two games back of 19th-ranked league leader Cal State Monterey Bay (23-7, 17-7 CCAA). Cal Poly Pomona (17-13, 14-10 CCAA) is in fourth, one game back of the Tritons and Golden Eagles. Chico State is tied for fifth with Stanislaus State (18-14, 14-12 CCAA). The Tritons are 8-5 away from home in 2018, including 6-4 during the recently-concluded, season-long 10-game road stretch. All six southern CCAA schools are at the northern clubs this week, though adverse weather is affecting all of those matchups.
UC San Diego and Chico State's showdown will pit two rivals who combined for three trophies a year ago, as the Wildcats took the CCAA regular-season and tournament crowns, and the Tritons earned the West Region title en route to a national runner-up showing. The 'Cats have grabbed three of the last four CCAA banners, as back-to-back tourney champs.
ADMISSION POLICIES FOR TRITON BALLPARK
General admission tickets to all regular-season home dates at Triton Ballpark are $5, whether a single game or doubleheader. UC San Diego students are admitted FREE with valid identification. Dogs and other pets are not allowed, nor are coolers. Bullseye Kettle Corn is on site for all home contests, with the menu featuring hot dogs, nachos, and of course, kettle corn, among other snacks, as well as both cold and hot beverages, like coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
Parking on the UCSD campus is free on weekends, but a permit is required for weeknight contests. They can be purchased at the machine near the entrance to the Triton Ballpark parking lot. Please be aware of the danger of foul balls to your vehicle when parking. Overflow parking is available adjacent to the aquatics facility (across freeway bridge), or in the opposite direction, further down Voigt Drive and well beyond the right field wall and trolley construction site.
UC San Diego home games at Triton Ballpark feature live online video on UCSDtritons.tv. All broadcasts are in high definition, and can be viewed from smartphones and tablets. Viewing is subscription-based, though it is free from UCSD campus IP addresses. The single-day fee is $5.99 (24-hour window), meaning doubleheaders are two-for-one. The play-by-play commentary is again provided by local radio personality Ted Mendenhall (@TedMendenhall). Events are archived. Some road contests also have video and/or audio. Both are available separately, both for free, for all four games in Chico this weekend through Stretch Internet. Longtime Wildcat play-by-play announcer and sports director at Chico's Newstalk1290 KPAY, Michael Baca, will have the call. All games have live stats. Fans can access live coverage from the Schedule/Results page, or by clicking on the links above. Starting lineups, live between-inning updates and other in-game news and notes can be found this year primarily by following Triton Baseball all season long at their own Twitter handle (@UCSDbsb), with Instagram stories at @ucsd_baseball. Fans are encouraged to also still follow @UCSDtritons. Finally, check out the CCAA live scoreboard here to keep up on results around the league.
On Nov. 27, UC San Diego was officially invited to become a member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference. The Tritons will begin a four-year reclassification period starting in the fall of 2020. They will play a full Big West schedule that season and will be eligible for the NCAA Championship in men's volleyball, men's and women's water polo, and fencing. For the 2024-25 academic year, all sports will be eligible to compete in Big West and NCAA Division I championships. Read the full press release here.
UC San Diego was at No. 7 in the preseason edition of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's NCAA Division II top-40 poll (Dec. 20). The Tritons were No. 4 and No. 19 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and Perfect Game preseason polls, respectively. UCSD is No. 3 in the NCBWA West Region poll.
|Tritons in the Polls|
|Collegiate Baseball Newspaper||RV||No. 7||N/A|
|NCBWA||No. 21||No. 4||No. 3|
|Perfect Game||NR||No. 19||N/A|
LAST TIME OUT
UC San Diego won its home series last weekend against Cal State East Bay, three games to one, bookending 25-2 and 11-1 romps around a doubleheader split (7-6, 1-6 in seven innings) on Friday, March 30. Thursday night's demolition featured two grand slams among six home runs for the Tritons. They scored multiple runs in six of the eight innings in which they batted, with a season-best eight runs in the sixth. Tyler Durna had a three-run home run in the fifth, followed by a grand slam in that sixth. Zander Clarke had the other grand slam, to make it 7-1 in the second. The junior rightfielder added a solo shot in the sixth as Durna, Clarke and Alex Eliopulos went back-to-back-to-back. The final home run came from junior transfer Christopher Schasteen, his first as a Triton, to lead off a four-run eighth. Jack Rupe, Jr., earned the start on the mound and provided six solid frames with a season-high seven strikeouts. Friday's first game of the twin bill saw UC San Diego rally from a 6-0 deficit thanks to a six-run sixth, and what proved to be the game-winning run in the seventh courtesy of a two-out infield single by Keenan Brigman after Durna had led off with a double. Jonah Dipoto and Mitch Hickey each provided four shutout innings in Saturday's finale, picking up the win and save, respectively.
EAST BAY OPENER SUPERLATIVES
UC San Diego's 25-2 victory over Cal State East Bay last Thursday night, March 29, marked the second-best run output of its NCAA Division II era, since 2001. The Tritons had won 26-5 in a seven-inning doubleheader nightcap at Cal State Monterey Bay on April 15, 2007. UC San Diego managed two grand slams, by Zander Clarke and Tyler Durna, and back-to-back-to-back shots, by Durna, Clarke and Alex Eliopulos, among six home runs, tying D-II-era record from a 14-7 win at Cal State San Bernardino on April 2, 2010. The 25 runs and six home runs are single-game highs in the CCAA in 2018. Durna finished with career highs of five runs and eight RBI, which both equal D-II-era program records. Justin Rahn had knocked in eight during a 20-5 home victory over Cal Poly Pomona in the NCAA West Regional on May 16, 2014. He also had a grand slam among two home runs that night.
SHAY ON BASE
Heading into this weekend's Chico State series, true freshman Shay Whitcomb has begun his college career by reaching base safely in all 28 of his games played. The Newbury Park native has missed a single contest and started the other 28 at shortstop, and in the leadoff position of the batting order. Whitcomb is seventh in the CCAA in both runs (27) and walks (20).
UC San Diego has yet to lose a series in 2018. The Tritons have won three CCAA sets by 3-1 counts, and split the other three. That was after a three-game sweep and two-game split in non-conference action.
UC San Diego has blasted four grand slams this season. The first two were by Alex Eliopulos, against then-fourth-ranked Colorado Mesa at home on Feb. 11, and at Sonoma State on March 9. Zander Clarke and Tyler Durna both got in the act on March 29 at home against Cal State East Bay.
CLARKE FINDING POWER STROKE
Junior rightfielder Zander Clarke, a first-year transfer from UCLA, homered in each of the first three games of the Cal State Monterey Bay series, and added his first two-home-run game as a Triton, including a grand slam, in the opener against Cal State East Bay last Thursday, March 29. Having tallied seven long balls in the month of March, he now has nine on the season, second on the team and fourth in the CCAA. The Newbury Park native drove in nine runs against the Otters and seven versus the Pioneers, and has 39 RBI for the year, with his batting average up to a team-leading and season-high .368.
TOP OF THE ORDER
The top of the Triton batting order has been a monster for opposing pitchers to deal with. Shay Whitcomb, Tyler Durna, Zander Clarke and Alex Eliopulos are all batting .316 or better, now led by Clarke at .368. They have combined for 111 of UCSD's 210 runs (.529), and more impressively, 119 of 191 RBI (.623).
FIRST WEEKLY HONORS FOR MOTT AFTER LIGHTS-OUT START
On March 6, junior left-hander Preston Mott was selected the CCAA and NCBWA West Region Pitcher of the Week, both for the first time in his career. The awards came thanks to seven shutout innings against then-14th-ranked Cal Poly Pomona in a 6-4 home victory on March 2, with a career-best 10 strikeouts. Mott scattered three singles and a walk. He had two perfect frames and also struck out the side twice. Mott had won three starts in a row prior to a no-decision at Sonoma State on March 9. He allowed just two runs over four outings from Feb. 17-March 9, in 24.0 innings for a 0.75 ERA. Mott is 4-0 over his seven starts, with a season ERA of 2.23, and is fourth in the CCAA with 53 strikeouts. Mott has improved on his single-game career best in strikeouts three times in 2018, and has at least five in all seven appearances. That season total is against nine walks, for an 5.89 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which ranks fifth in the CCAA and 41st nationally.
BIG WEEK NETS ELIOPULOS SEVERAL AWARDS
For the week of Feb. 19-25, Alex Eliopulos was named among Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's National Players of the Week, with the other 11 all being from Division I, as well as the CCAA Player of the Week for the first time, and then NCBWA West Region Player of the Week. That all came after a Cal State Dominguez Hills series in which he hit .600 (9-15) and slugged 1.467, with a .714 on-base percentage, four home runs, one double, six runs, eight RBI and six walks. The La Jolla native produced back-to-back two-home-run games at home on Feb. 23 and in Carson to begin the Feb. 24 doubleheader, and in fact has three of them on the season, as well as a pair of grand slams. Eliopulos' 10 home runs, all to right field, lead the Tritons and tie him for second in the CCAA.
TOP 50 IN NATIONAL STATISTICS
As of the NCAA Division II statistical report from April 1, Cameron Kurz is tied for eighth nationally with his seven saves. Tyler Durna is eighth in runs per game (1.46), 28th in base on balls per game (0.88) and 42nd in on-base percentage (.509) and runs (tied-35). Nick Kitzmann is tied for 13th with 13 hit-by-pitches. Alex Eliopulos is tied for 24th with his 10 home runs, 31st in home runs per game (0.34), tied for 17th in RBI (40), 12th in RBI per game (1.38), and 25th in toughest to strike out (16.3). Zander Clarke is tied for 21st in RBI (39), 16th in RBI per game (1.34), 38th in home runs (tied-nine) and 50th in home runs per game (0.31). Preston Mott is 41st in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.89), and 47th in strikeouts per nine innings (11.83). The Tritons' top rankings as a team are 11th in base on balls (165) and 20th in fielding percentage (.972).
Tyler Durna leads the CCAA in runs (35) and runs per game (1.46). Alex Eliopulos is tied for first in RBI (40), first in RBI per game (1.38), and is the toughest to strike out (16.3 at-bats per strikeout). As a team, UC San Diego paces the conference in fielding percentage (0.972), home runs (33), home runs per game (1.14), triples (nine) and triples per game (0.31).
UC San Diego used seven home runs in its four-game series with Cal State East Bay, including six in the opener, to move four clear of Cal State Monterey Bay atop the league table at 33 long balls. The Tritons had also topped the league with 53 a year ago. The first 10 in 2018 were all to right field, prior to Zander Clarke's solo shot to left center in the first inning to kick off the Feb. 24 doubleheader at CSUDH. Among a team-best 10 by redshirt junior third baseman Alex Eliopulos have been two grand slams and three two-home-run games. UC San Diego's 53 long balls last season included 11 in a four-game series against Cal State San Bernardino to wrap up the regular season, and 11 more in six contests at the CCAA Championship. The Tritons topped the league thanks to a late-season outburst that saw them hit at least one long ball in a Division II-era (since 2001) program-record 11 consecutive games (May 4-18), with multiple blasts in eight of them, and 26 in all over the last 20 contests. It was the most home runs by a UCSD squad since the Tritons had 60 in 2010. The 53 were more than what UCSD managed in the previous three years combined (41), and is the fourth-largest single-season total in the program's D-II history.
DURNA NAMED CCAA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Junior first baseman Tyler Durna was named the CCAA Player of the Week for the third time in his career on Feb. 13. Durna hit .524 (11-21) and slugged .810 (2B, 3B, HR, 17 TB) with a .615 on-base percentage, all team bests, producing 11 hits, seven runs and 10 RBI. He walked five times without a single strikeout, and handled all 39 defensive chances cleanly. Durna reached base at least twice in each game.
The UC San Diego pitching staff finished with a 3.67 ERA a season ago, 24th in the nation, fourth in the West Region and third in the CCAA. The Tritons have thus placed among the top three in the CCAA in ERA in five of the past six years. The UCSD staff in fact threw the most total innings in all of Division II in 2017, at 557.1, with fellow national semifinalist St. Thomas Aquinas closest at 530.1. The Tritons are currently fifth in the CCAA with a 4.33 ERA.
UCSD continues a tradition of being strong defensively, still first in the CCAA with a .972 fielding percentage. The Tritons fielded at a .974 clip in 2017, ninth nationally and second in both the West and CCAA behind Division II-leading Chico State's .983. UCSD had finished at .970 for two straight years in 2015 and 2016, topping the CCAA and ranking 20th in Division II in the latter. The Tritons were second in the CCAA, behind only Cal Poly Pomona (.971), and 21st in Division II, in 2015. UCSD has been in the top 30 nationally and top three in the conference in fielding for each of the past eight seasons. The Tritons were also second in the CCAA (behind Chico State) in 2014 with a .974 clip, and fifth in the country. In 2013, they were second in the league behind Chico State and 11th nationally (.972). They were 29th in Division II in 2012 (.966) and third in the conference. UCSD led the nation with a Division II- and school-record mark of .984 (1611-673-38) in 2010 and was fifth in 2011 (.972), pacing the CCAA both years. Only one program in the country has even fielded at a .980 rate since 2010, and that was Chico State a year ago, falling just short of the Tritons' D-II standard.
UC San Diego wound up second in the CCAA South in 2017 behind Cal Poly Pomona (27-11) for the second year in a row, with a league record of 24-13, qualifying for a fourth consecutive CCAA Championship. That's when the Tritons caught fire, winning three straight elimination games at the CCAA Championship in Stockton before dropping a winner-take-all final to rival Chico State, and then sweeping through the NCAA West Regional with two victories each against higher seeds Dixie State and host Azusa Pacific. In its first return to the NCAA Championship since 2010, UC San Diego dropped a heartbreaker in its opener, only to take four more elimination games within a five-day span, and make it to the final round. Needing to beat West Chester of Pennsylvania twice on that final day of the season on June 4, the Tritons fell by a score of 5-2 in the initial meeting. Their final overall record stood at 44-19, marking the second-most wins in program history.
Last year, the Tritons were NCAA Division II West Region champions for the first time under head coach Eric Newman and third since moving up to Division II for the 2001 season. They were previously crowned in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010, finishing as national runners-up in the latter season, as well as in 2017. UC San Diego also won a pair of West titles in Division III, in 1987 and 1994.
UC San Diego head coach Eric Newman, the 2017 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Diamond NCAA Division II West Region Coach of the Year, has 19 returners and 16 newcomers to form a 35-player roster for 2018, after last season's edition posted a 44-19 overall record and secured the program's first regional crown since 2010. It marked UCSD's second-best win total all-time, as Newman's club went 12-4 in postseason play, including 7-2 in elimination games.
The Tritons are led by junior first baseman Tyler Durna, who produced the opposite of a sophomore slump and took a star turn a year ago, with his team-best .363 batting average, dazzling defense, a memorable 28-game hitting streak, and a stretch of 41 straight contests in which he reached base safely. Redshirt junior Alex Eliopulos, a La Jolla native (La Jolla HS) and second-year transfer from San Diego Mesa College, should be across the diamond from Durna again at third base. Jack Rupe, Jr. (San Marcos/Mission Hills HS), is a fourth-year senior right-hander, and Preston Mott a junior left-hander who was the Opening Day mound starter in 2017.
Among the prized incoming contingent are a pair of notable transfers from Pac-12 Conference powerhouses in redshirt junior power-hitting outfielder Zander Clarke from UCLA and senior right-handed starting pitcher Mitch Hickey out of Oregon State. Clarke, who bats from the right side, slammed 15 total home runs over an incredible summer as the Great West League (GWL) Player of the Year with the Portland Pickles, adding a second straight GWL All-Star Game appearance and in fact, GWL All-Star Game Most Valuable Player distinction as well. All of that netted the Newbury Park native an outfield spot on the 2017 Perfect Game/Rawlings Summer Collegiate All-America First Team. Hickey was one of 13 arms who saw action for Oregon State during a historic 2017 campaign that finished at 56-6 at the College World Series. That staff completed the year with a 1.93 team ERA. Hickey, a product of Morgan Hill in Northern California, compiled a 4.91 ERA over seven relief appearances, with one save.
Not to be outshone is an exciting crop of true freshmen, highlighted by the likes of right-handers Noah Conlon and Cameron Leonard, and shortstop Shay Whitcomb. In late September, Whitcomb and Conlon made Perfect Game's Top NCAA Division II Freshmen list at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, among 34 total prospects recognized. UC San Diego was one of four programs with multiple freshmen honored, but the lone one from the West Region, and the only one nationally with two in the top 10.
UC San Diego's 2018 schedule consists of 49 regular-season games, including 26 at home. Having contested four of just five non-conference dates in La Jolla, including two top-10 matchups with No. 4 Colorado Mesa, the Tritons dove right into league play with a four-game home split against San Francisco State, Feb. 16-18. UCSD also split a four-game set with then-14th-ranked 2015 and 2016 West Region champion Cal Poly Pomona, March 1-4. The Tritons travel north this week for a four-gamer at two-time reigning CCAA tournament champion, 2017 CCAA regular-season champion and league favorite Chico State. The CCAA Championship will be held in the neutral-site city of Stockton for the sixth year in a row, returning to Banner Island Ballpark of the minor-league Stockton Ports, May 9-12. UCSD has earned four successive trips.
DURNA LOCKED IN
Tyler Durna finished fifth in the league with his team-best .363 batting average as a sophomore a year ago. He started each of the last 54 games at first base, reached safely in all but one, and had a hit in all but eight of them, including a 28-game streak from March 4-April 29 that was a record for UCSD's Division II era (since 2001), and likely a program standard. It is tied for the third-longest hit streak in the CCAA's unofficial record book. Durna had multiple hits in 16 of those 28 contests. He was fourth in the CCAA in on-base percentage (.469).
Nick Kitzmann has a team-best 13 hit-by-pitches (tied-No. 2 in CCAA), after six all of last year, and on Feb. 11 against Concordia Irvine became the first Triton to be hit by a pitch three times in the same game, since Nick La Face at Cal State LA on April 1, 2011 ... The 18 runners the Tritons stranded in their CCAA opener with SF State on Feb. 16 were their most since leaving 19 at Chico State over a decade ago on May 14, 2005, in a 12-inning, 7-6 triumph for the program's first CCAA tournament title ... UCSD's first 10 home runs of 2018 were all to right field ... The Tritons' biggest frame this year was an eight-run effort in the sixth inning of a 25-2 home romp over Cal State East Bay on March 29 ... The largest inning they have surrendered was a seven-run fifth at Cal State Monterey Bay on March 25 ... UCSD is 6-1 in season openers under Eric Newman and 15-3 since moving to Division II status for 2001 ... UCSD is 5-2 in CCAA openers with Newman in charge, having this year had its five-game win streak snapped by SF State, 4-1, since another 4-1 loss to Chico State in La Jolla on Feb. 17, 2012 ... The Tritons are 10-8 in CCAA openers all-time (since 2001), and 10-1 with seven splits in sets to begin the league season ... UCSD was picked to place second in the 2018 CCAA race by the league's head coaches, as announced on Jan. 29, with defending CCAA regular-season and tournament champion Chico State the favorite for the sixth time in seven years.
The CCAA baseball landscape has changed again, and after having two six-team divisions, North and South, the past two seasons, there are no divisions in 2018. The top six teams, by straight winning percentage, in the final standings, will qualify for the 2018 CCAA Championship. Third-year member and city rival Cal State San Marcos is eligible for the postseason for the first time. The CCAA has also gone away from a 38-game league slate, with four-game sets within the division and three-gamers against the opposite division. Each team now plays a four-game series with the other 11 squads, for a 44-game schedule. UC San Diego is either entirely at home or away against the six northern teams, and faces split-venue sets with the southern ones. The automatic qualifier into the NCAA West Regional is still the winner of the CCAA tournament, which remains a four-day, double-elimination event.
UC San Diego returns two all-conference performers from 2017 at the corners in All-CCAA First Team first baseman Tyler Durna and third baseman Alex Eliopulos, who earned honorable mention ... Durna was also a unanimous All-West Region selection by ABCA/Rawlings (First Team), the NCBWA (First) and D2CCA (Second) ... Eliopulos represented the Tritons on the NCBWA's preseason All-West Region Second Team ... All but five players on the 35-man 2018 roster, senior Jesse Moore (Port Orchard, WA) and newcomers Warren King (Bainbridge Island, WA), Garett Lake (Henderson, NV), Nick Senicka (Oak Brook, IL) and Tom Simpson (Port Orchard, WA), are California natives ... There are four San Diego products in senior Jack Rupe, Jr. (San Marcos/Mission Hills HS), redshirt juniors Eliopulos (La Jolla/San Diego Mesa College/La Jolla HS) and Cameron Kurz (Encinitas/La Costa Canyon HS), and freshman Evan Ianniciello (San Marcos/San Marcos HS) ... Junior right-hander Jonah Dipoto is the son of Jerry Dipoto, who pitched eight seasons for three Major League Baseball organizations, and is the general manager of the Seattle Mariners ... Redshirt sophomore utility Keenan Brigman (San Jose/UOP) is the younger brother of former University of San Diego shortstop and current Seattle Mariners top-30 prospect (No. 27) Bryson Brigman, a third-round selection in the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft ... True freshman right-hander Noah Conlon is the younger brother of PJ Conlon, a former left-handed ace for the University of San Diego who is currently the No. 24 prospect in the New York Mets organization.
Over the first week of UC San Diego's season, redshirt freshman Antonio Barrios, Blake Baumgartner, Aaron Kim, Kyle Selor and Brandon Stewart, and true freshmen Noah Conlon, Garett Lake, Cameron Leonard and Shay Whitcomb, all earned their college debuts. Transfers Justin Beck, Zander Clarke, Mitch Hickey, Rj Prince, Mark Quinby, Christopher Schasteen and Tom Simpson made their first appearances as Tritons.
HEAD COACH ERIC NEWMAN
Eric Newman is in his seventh season as the UC San Diego head coach. The 2017 ABCA/Diamond Division II West Region Coach of the Year and 2012 CCAA Coach of the Year has a 227-135 record (158-96 CCAA) in charge of the Tritons and 322-207 overall in his nine-plus 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, and a subsequent trip to the NCAA Division II West Regional. His Tritons won a record sixth conference tourney crown in May of 2014 in Stockton, to again nab the CCAA's automatic bid into the NCAA Championship. With UCSD earning the region's top seed, Triton Ballpark played host to the 2014 NCAA West Regional. After reaching the finals of the West Regional in both 2014 and 2015, UCSD won its first West crown since 2010 last week in Azusa. Newman has led the Tritons to three CCAA banners, four NCAA postseason berths and one regional championship in his six years, as well as six plus-.500 and five 30-win campaigns. Last year's was his first 40-win squad. He earned win No. 200 in charge of UCSD against Chico State, 13-4, on the final day of the 2017 CCAA Championship on May 13. Newman won his 100th CCAA contest at home against Cal State San Bernardino, 9-4, on Feb. 26, 2016. He previously went 95-72 in three seasons at the helm of Dallas Baptist University from 2005-07. Newman was the fifth-round draft choice of the San Diego Padres out of Texas Tech in 1994, pitching professionally for eight years with four different organizations.
Eric Newman has Justin James back on his staff for a second year as the pitching coach, and J.T. Bloodworth for a sixth season in the UC San Diego dugout, now in his fourth year as the Tritons' recruiting coordinator. Jeff Calhoon is in his third go-around with Newman, who has also retained two former star right-handed Triton pitchers and Chula Vista natives who graduated in 2017 in Troy Cruz and Adrian Orozco. Bloodworth coaches third base and Calhoon is again at first base.
ABOUT THE WILDCATS
Chico State (18-14, 14-12 CCAA) rallied to split last week's series at Cal State LA after dropping the first two games, which gave it a second four-game losing streak in March. The Wildcats won by scores of 3-1 in seven innings and 6-5, having lost 9-5 and 8-4 for openers against the Golden Eagles. They were coming off a 2-2 home split against Cal State San Bernardino, winning the first two contests there. That was after back-to-back 3-1 series losses, at league leader Cal State Monterey Bay and at home against Cal State East Bay. Chico State is an uncharacteristic 11-7 at home this season after going an incredible 25-1 there a year ago. The 'Cats are fielding at just a .955 clip after leading all of Division II with a remarkable .983 clip in 2017. They were in fact the first team to field .980 or better, since UC San Diego's D-II-record .984 in 2010. After missing the postseason entirely in 2015, Chico State, the nine-time West Region champion with its most recent title coming in La Jolla in 2014, won its fourth CCAA tournament crown, and second in a row, last May. The Wildcats cruised to the regular-season title with an impressive 34-4 mark. Two of those four league losses came in La Jolla. Dave Taylor is in his 12th season in charge at Chico State, and has more than 500 career wins.
UCSD holds a 43-38 edge over Chico State, all since 2001, when the Tritons moved up to the NCAA Division II and joined the CCAA. This includes a 31-20 advantage over the last 51 meetings since 2008. UCSD is 33-30 against Chico State in regular-season league contests, 10-4 at the CCAA Championship and 0-4 in NCAA Championship play. The Tritons are 21-17 in La Jolla, 15-18 in Chico and 7-3 at neutral venues. They went 3-2 against the 'Cats a year ago. UC San Diego rallied after dropping the opener, 13-5, to take the regular-season series through wins of 7-0 and 6-4. The teams then split a pair on the final day of the CCAA tournament in Stockton, the Tritons first rolling to a 13-4 decision before Chico State grabbed the winner-take-all final, 12-5. UC San Diego was swept in three games in Chico in 2016 (7-0, 7-6, 7-2), before rallying from 6-2 down after four to walk the 'Cats off with three in the ninth on day two of the CCAA Championship in Stockton (5/12). UCSD never trailed in sweeping the four-game set in La Jolla in 2015 (6-0, 10-7, 4-3 and 4-2), after splits in each of the previous three years. The teams shared eight decisions evenly at 4-4 in 2014. The CCAA set finished 2-2 in La Jolla before UCSD earned a pair of wins at the conference tournament in Stockton en route to a record sixth banner. Chico State returned the favor, however, to win the West Regional at Triton Ballpark and advance on to Cary, N.C. The Tritons went 3-2 against the 'Cats in 2012, with the games all taking place in La Jolla. The teams split their four-game series before UCSD posted a 9-1 victory on its way to a fourth straight CCAA Championship crown. In 2005, UCSD fought all the way back after losing its tournament opener at Chico's Nettleton Stadium to Cal Poly Pomona, to win its first CCAA tourney title. Needing to beat the host Wildcats twice on the final day, the Tritons did just that, taking a pair of narrow one-run decisions, both in extra innings, 5-4 in 11 and 7-6 in 12.
Triton Ballpark on East Campus at UCSD was given a brand-new look outside the foul lines in 2015. Some of the main features of the extensive renovation included a permanent grandstand to seat just over 500, a press box, new sunken dugouts, an area for food trucks, and restrooms, among several other amenities. Read details here. Perhaps most significant is the Marye Anne Fox Clubhouse down the right field line, which was introduced to the players on March 17, 2015. The official Triton Ballpark re-opening and clubhouse dedication took place on April 10, 2015. View photo galleries from the ballpark construction, Opening Day and dedication.
For the latest in Triton athletic gear, make sure to visit ucsdtritonsgear.com. Run by UCSD Athletics' online partner, Advanced-Online, the site provides an on-demand option for Triton athletic apparel and merchandise. Fans have access to over 600 products that can be processed and shipped within 24 hours.
FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
Got some young Triton fans in your family? If they are in eighth grade or under, check out the Junior Triton Club. Membership includes a free t-shirt, admission to over 100 UCSD home athletic events, and much more!
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UCSD Athletics on Twitter (@UCSDtritons)
UCSD Athletics on YouTube (UCSDathletics)
Triton Baseball on Facebook (TritonsBaseball)
Triton Baseball on Instagram (@ucsd_baseball)
Triton Baseball on Twitter (@UCSDbsb)
Coach Newman on Twitter (@CoachEricNewman)
Coach James on Twitter (@CoachJames_3)
Coach Bloodworth on Twitter (@CoachBlood_)
Coach Calhoon on Twitter (@CoachCalhoon)
Coach Cruz on Twitter (@TroyCaseyCruz)
Coach Orozco on Twitter (@AdOrozco13)
UC San Diego returns home to kick off a six-game homestand at Triton Ballpark with a four-game series against Stanislaus State, beginning in primetime on Friday, April 13, at 6 p.m.