Photo by: Andy Wilhelm
Seniors Alex Eliopulos (left) and Preston Mott are 2018 All-West Region honorees who lead the Tritons into 2019.

UC San Diego Tabbed CCAA Favorite in Preseason Poll

UC San Diego

LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 14 University of California San Diego baseball program is the head coaches' favorite to win the 2019 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season title, per Monday's release of the preseason poll.

UC San Diego earned 119 points from the 11 opposing head coaches, due in large part to nine of their first-place votes. The Tritons are followed by Cal Poly Pomona with 104 points and two first-place votes, and Cal State Monterey Bay, at 102 points with the remaining first-place nod. UC San Diego and CSUMB tied atop the league standings in 2018, each at 30-14, but the Otters took home the regular-season banner by virtue of tiebreaker rules. The Tritons knocked off CPP in the tournament finals, 5-1.

The next three in the poll are 2016, 2017 and 2018 NCAA West Regional participant Chico State (99 points), Cal State LA (75) and San Francisco State (64).

Those six teams were the 2018 CCAA Tournament qualifiers, with the league format unchanged for 2019 and the top six squads in the final standings, by straight winning percentage, off to Stockton. The automatic entrant into the West Regional is still the champion of the tournament, which remains a double-elimination event.

The CCAA Tournament will be held in the neutral-site city of Stockton for the seventh year in a row, back at Banner Island Ballpark of the minor-league Stockton Ports, May 8-11. UC San Diego has earned five consecutive trips, and is the record seven-time and reigning winner.

Entering his eighth season in charge, Eric Newman, the back-to-back American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Diamond Division II West Region Coach of the Year, will rely on seniors Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) at third base and Preston Mott on the mound. Both were unanimous All-West Region Second Team selections, as well as All-CCAA First Team picks, in 2018. Blake Baumgartner, Keenan Brigman, Nick Kitzmann and Shay Whitcomb are all returners who picked up All-CCAA honorable mentions last May.

Among newcomers expected to contribute are junior college transfers Tyler Leskiw, Luke Mattson and Brandon Weed, and true freshmen Michael Fuhrman, Ryan McNally, Michael Mitchell and Lonnie Morris.

UC San Diego begins a second straight campaign at Concordia Irvine this Friday afternoon, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. Another short trip to Irvine will follow on Saturday for a 1 p.m. start. Opening Day at Triton Ballpark on East Campus in La Jolla is on Sunday, Feb. 3, with an 11 a.m. first pitch for the series finale between the Tritons and Eagles.

Following a three-game home series with the other Concordia, from Portland, Ore., Feb. 11-12, the Tritons jump into their CCAA slate the next Friday, Feb. 15, hosting No. 27 Cal State Monterey Bay in the primetime opener (6 p.m.) of a four-game set.

Two of the three national preseason polls have been unveiled, with UC San Diego 14th in the older Collegiate Baseball Newspaper (CBN) listing, and just on Thursday, tabbed No. 17 by Perfect Game as the lone West Region representative in its top 25.

Last Wednesday, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) released its preseason regional materials, with UC San Diego the unanimous No. 1 in the West Region, garnering all seven first-place votes. The Tritons also led all West teams with four student-athletes named to preseason NCBWA All-West Region squads. Eliopulos is the first-team third baseman, with Mott one of three starting pitchers. Whitcomb is the second-team shortstop, with Baumgartner the second-team designated hitter, though he is the Tritons' projected starter at first base in 2019.

In early January, Eliopulos and Mott were both dubbed preseason All-Americans in CBN's college preview issue, with Whitcomb a Player to Watch in the West, and Mattson a Newcomer to Watch.

2019 CCAA Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll
Institution, Points (First-Place Votes)

1. #14 UC San Diego, 119 (9)
2. #16 Cal Poly Pomona, 104 (2)
3. #27 Cal State Monterey Bay, 102 (1)
4. #21 Chico State, 99
5. Cal State LA, 75
6. San Francisco State, 64
7. Sonoma State, 63
8. Cal State East Bay, 49
9. Stanislaus State, 45
10. Cal State San Marcos, 26
11. Cal State San Bernardino, 25
12. Cal State Dominguez Hills, 21

About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.

Follow the Tritons
For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at UCSDtritons.com and through social media on Twitter (@UCSDtritons), Instagram (@ucsdtritons) and Facebook (UCSDtritons). For more information on UC San Diego Baseball, follow on Twitter (@UCSDbsb) and Instagram (@ucsd_baseball). Head coach Eric Newman is also on Twitter (@CoachEricNewman).

#BigWestBound

More From UCSD
Baseball