LA JOLLA, Calif. - The University of California San Diego baseball team put on an impressive offensive display against the able pitching staff of Stanislaus State in rolling to the sweep of a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) doubleheader, 17-2 and 9-2 in seven innings, Saturday at Triton Ballpark.
The two wins move UC San Diego to 23-13 overall and 19-12 in the CCAA. Stanislaus State, which has now dropped a season-high four straight, falls to 20-19 overall and 16-17 in league play. The Tritons had rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 walk-off triumph in Friday night's opener, and therefore have clinched the series victory. They will go for their first sweep of 2018 in Sunday's noon finale.
With all 12 CCAA teams in doubleheader action on Saturday, the Tritons ascended into sole possession of second place, now just two games back of league leader Cal State Monterey Bay (27-10, 21-10 CCAA), which split its twin bill at Cal Poly Pomona and trails that set, 2-1.
Stanislaus State had entered the series with the CCAA's top team ERA at 3.12, ninth-best nationally in Division II. About an hour before first pitch, UC San Diego head coach Eric Newman was forced to pull his leading hitter and second-best run producer, Zander Clarke, from the lineup.
What did his Tritons do?
They responded, producing their 26 runs off of 36 hits. The opener saw season highs of eight doubles, 10 extra-base hits (tied) and 23 hits in all for the home side.
Sunday's getaway game is set for a 12 p.m. first pitch at Triton Ballpark on East Campus in La Jolla. Parking is free.
Game One - UCSD 17, STAN 2
UC San Diego made its intentions for the day known early. Redshirt freshman designated hitter Blake Baumgartner, who took Clarke's spot in the lineup, paid immediate dividends for Newman, launching his second home run of the season over the wall in left center after Tyler Durna's one-out double. Durna inside-outed the first pitch he saw all afternoon and dropped it just to the left of center field, with the Warrior centerfielder shading him toward right center.
Ahead 2-1, the Tritons added three in the third thanks in large part to a two-run, stand-up triple by Keenan Brigman. The redshirt sophomore laced a 1-2 pitch to straightaway center, where junior Braeden Oki dove forward for it, and came up empty. The ball trickled all the way to the wall, scoring Baumgartner and Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS), who had singled and been hit by a pitch to lead off. Brigman trotted home on Michael Palos' clutch two-out single through the left side.
UC San Diego really broke it open through a six-run fifth, sending 11 to the plate and notching six hits. Redshirt sophomore leftfielder Steven Schuknecht doubled and Brigman singled him home on the first two pitches of the frame to ignite the rally. Schuknecht actually came back around for a second double, this one of the run-scoring variety with two gone. Both were to right field. Durna’s second double of the contest was the biggest knock, driving in a pair. Palos lifted a two-strike sacrifice fly.
Junior left-hander Preston Mott (5-1) scattered a couple of hits over his 5.1 innings, allowing a run on three walks while striking out three. He turned in three perfect frames, in the first, third and fifth. Mott began his outing by falling behind 3-0 to his very first batter, but battled back to a full count before inducing the groundout.
In fact, four Triton arms combined on a two-hitter. True freshman Cameron Leonard relieved Mott with men at first and second and two away. He went 2-0 to his first batter, but rallied to get him waving. Mott had actually also just struck out a Warrior swinging for his final batter with two men on through a one-out single and a walk.
Leonard bookended two groundouts around a called third strike in a clean seventh, the latter one the tough snare of a hot shot back to him, and toss to Durna at first.
Ted Stuka struck out one after two groundouts in his eighth. Senior right-hander Tom Simpson wriggled out of a jam in the ninth with just an unearned run against him after successive walks for openers. The first-year transfer struck out two.
Baumgartner finished 3-for-6 with a double, home run, four runs and two RBI. Brigman and Durna each were 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBI, with a triple and two doubles, respectively. Schuknecht was 3-for-5 with two doubles, a walk, two runs and two RBI. Brandon Stewart provided three hits, among them a double. The remaining two-baggers came from Palos and redshirt freshman Aaron Kim, the latter a pinch-hit, first-pitch, two-run double just inside the left field line in the seventh.
Facing an 0-2 count, senior second baseman Justin Beck made it 2-2 before pulling a leadoff single through the right side in the third to extend his hit and reached-base streaks to six and 21, respectively. Beck, Eliopulos and Palos had two hits apiece.
Game Two - UCSD 9, STAN 2 (7)
UC San Diego surrendered the opener but scored five times in the second and never looked back. Just like the big fifth in the first game, Schuknecht triggered the outburst that again brought exactly 11 Tritons to the plate. This time, he drew an eight-pitch walk. Runs batted in went to Beck on a fielder's choice, Stewart on a triple over the centerfielder, Shay Whitcomb on a single, and Eliopulos on a bases-loaded walk.
Junior right-hander Jonah Dipoto (3-3) was sharp in evening his personal win-loss record. He tossed six complete frames for the first time in his college career, giving up just two runs on five hits. For the second time in his last three starts, Dipoto did not walk a man, and struck out three. Redshirt freshman Antonio Barrios handled a perfect seventh with one strikeout.
After Dipoto was not quite able to turn in the shutdown inning after the five-run second, Beck got the single tally right back by belting his second home run of 2018, inside the right field foul pole, for 6-2. The Tritons added three more from there.
Beck finished 2-for-4 with the home run, run and three RBI. Stewart was 2-for-3 with a triple, walk, two runs, RBI and team-best sixth steal. The redshirt freshman has not been caught on the bases. Brigman added two more hits, one a double, and a run, as did Baumgartner. Eliopulos drove in a pair to increase his league-best total to 47.
Triton Notes: With Zander Clarke missing both contests, Alex Eliopulos is now the only Triton to start or appear in all 36 games ... Justin Beck extended his current team-best reached-base streak to 22 games with a leadoff single in the second inning of the first game, and a leadoff home run in the third inning of the nightcap ... Game One: UC San Diego reached double-figure runs for the 11th time in 2018 ... The Tritons produced 20-plus hits three times in 2017, most recently 21 on May 6 in a 20-1 home win over Cal State San Bernardino ... The 23 hits are UCSD's most since getting to 23 again in an 18-1 home defeat of CSUSB on April 21, 2015 ... The eight doubles are the most in over a decade, since hitting nine at home against Regis on Feb. 16, 2007 ... Tom Simpson made his second appearance as a Triton, and first since the Feb. 9 home opener, when he also threw the ninth.
B3: Stand-up 2-R TRIPLE by Keenan Brigman ⬇️❕ Brig drops it right in front of diving centerfielder and we’re off and running! Michael Palos later adds a 2-out RBI 1B for #Tritons.— UCSD Triton Baseball (@UCSDbsb) April 14, 2018
5-1 🔱#GoTritons #CCAAbsb #d2bsb pic.twitter.com/RXDePmEZq6