No. 14 Tritons Begin Road Back to Cary With Three Games Against Concordia Irvine; Home Opener Sunday
The 14th-ranked, two-time defending West Region champion University of California San Diego baseball program hopes to open a second straight season in Irvine at Concordia this Friday, Feb. 1. Expected rain has already on Wednesday night, affected the schedule, as that intended opener has been moved up from 2 p.m. to 1 p.m. at Eagles Field. The middle meeting of the three-game non-conference series with the Pacific West Conference (PacWest) representative tentatively remains a 1 p.m. start in Irvine on Saturday, but is in jeopardy based on the forecast. The finale on Opening Day at Triton Ballpark on East Campus in La Jolla this Sunday, Feb. 3, is now a listed 12 p.m. first pitch instead of 11 a.m., to gain an extra hour of field preparation. That could end up being a doubleheader at UC San Diego on Sunday, should Saturday be lost. Monday could also be utilized to wrap things up, in Irvine or La Jolla, time to be determined. The entire weekend is subject to further change. Please check back here at UCSDtritons.com, or on Twitter (@UCSDtritons, @UCSDbsb) for any updates.
ADMISSION POLICIES FOR TRITON BALLPARK
General admission tickets to all regular-season home dates at Triton Ballpark are $5, whether for a single game or doubleheaders. UC San Diego students are admitted FREE with valid identification. By University policy, dogs and other pets are not allowed, with the exception of service animals. Coolers are also not allowed. UC San Diego Concessions is on site for home contests.
Parking on the UC San Diego campus is free on weekends, but a permit is required for weekday 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. The next closest parking lot is located further down Voigt Drive heading in toward campus, on the right after crossing the Interstate 5 bridge.
UC San Diego home games in 2019 feature a live pay-per-view video stream on UCSDtritons.tv. The cost is $5.99 for a 24-hour window, meaning one fee for doubleheaders, and $34.99 for the 2018-19 academic year, to include other Triton athletics teams. Viewing is still free from UC San Diego campus IP addresses. Broadcasts are in high definition, and can be viewed from smartphones and tablets alongside desktop and laptop computers. Returning for a third season as the play-by-play announcer is local radio personality Ted Mendenhall (@TedMendenhall). Events are archived. Some road contests also have video and/or audio, but not this week in Irvine. (NOTE: Please be advised that the home broadcast schedule for this first week could also be affected if weather forces further changes.) 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 in-game updates and other news and notes can be found by following Triton Baseball on Twitter (@UCSDbsb). Fans are encouraged to also still follow @UCSDtritons, and check out Instagram stories during home dates in particular (@ucsd_baseball, @ucsdtritons). Finally, check out the CCAA live scoreboard here to keep up on results around the league.
Among the three separate preseason polls for NCAA Division II baseball, UC San Diego is rated No. 14 by the older Collegiate Baseball Newspaper (CBN), No. 4 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and No. 17 by Perfect Game. The Tritons are the unanimous No. 1 in the NCBWA Preseason West Region poll, grabbing all seven first-place votes. They also earned one of 19 first-place nods in the NCBWA's national listing.
|Tritons in the Polls|
|Collegiate Baseball Newspaper||No. 14||No. 14||N/A|
|NCBWA||No. 4||No. 4||No. 1|
|Perfect Game||No. 17||No. 17||N/A|
UC San Diego swept through a second successive NCAA West Regional in Azusa to make a return trip to the NCAA Championship, this time back in Cary, N.C., with 2010 marking its last visit. After a 4-0 shutout over Texas A&M Kingsville in their first game there, the Tritons dropped back-to-back contests to end the campaign at 43-17 overall. That was all after UC San Diego also swept through four games for its record seventh CCAA Tournament crown, up north in Stockton. The Tritons had shared the top spot in the final CCAA standings with Cal State Monterey Bay at 30-14 each, but lost out to the Otters for the regular-season banner by virtue of tiebreaker rules. In Azusa, UC San Diego rolled over city rival Point Loma for openers, 22-3, as Zander Clarke drove in seven runs over the first three innings on a two-run home run, grand slam, and RBI single. The Tritons rallied from deficits of 6-0 after one and 7-1 after six, to edge California Baptist in a winner's bracket matchup, 9-8. A six-run seventh tied it, and Clarke's solo shot in the ninth broke an 8-8 tie for good. UC San Diego surrendered the first two runs, again against the Lancers, the next night, before taking a 5-3 victory, with Blake Baumgartner's two-run home run in the ninth serving as huge insurance in the end. In the final, with host Azusa Pacific having to win twice to advance, the Tritons stormed back from another 7-1 deficit, to walk off as 8-7 winners on Michael Palos' pinch-hit, one-out, bases-loaded single through the left side.
UC San Diego was picked by the 11 opposing CCAA head coaches as the favorite to take the 2019 CCAA regular-season title, as announced on Jan. 28. The Tritons earned nine of 11 possible first-place votes for 119 points, edging out fellow 2018 CCAA Tournament finalist Cal Poly Pomona (104 points and two first-place votes), reigning regular-season champion Cal State Monterey Bay (102, one first-place vote) and rival Chico State (99).
Seniors Alex Eliopulos and Preston Mott both earned preseason All-America recognition from a pair of outlets. Eliopulos is the NCBWA Preseason All-America Third Team third baseman, with Mott picking up an honorable mention. Both were among 10 West Region standouts to earn CBN Preseason All-America selections. Those two also represented UC San Diego on the NCBWA Preseason All-West Region First Team, with sophomores Shay Whitcomb and Blake Baumgartner on the second team. Whitcomb was among CBN's Players to Watch in the West, with junior right-hander Luke Mattson a Newcomer to Watch.
UC San Diego broke single-season standards in 2018 in home runs (78) and walks (nation-leading 329) offensively, and strikeouts (528) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.29) by its pitching staff. The Tritons also won a school-record nine consecutive postseason contests, the first eight via sweeps at both the CCAA Tournament and NCAA West Regional.
ELIO AT THE HOT CORNER
Alex Eliopulos begins his third and final season as a Triton having started the last 76 games in a row, all at third base. He was UC San Diego's only player to even appear in all 60 contests in 2018. There is only one returner in all of Division II baseball (Mines' Mikey Gangwish with 86) who drove in more than Eliopulos' 72 runs a season ago. Those came in part through a career-best 14 home runs (two grand slams) for the La Jolla product, up from five from his first year in the program in 2017 as a transfer from San Diego Mesa College.
MOTTY ON THE BUMP
Preston Mott, a left-hander from Clovis, returns for a fourth and final season at UC San Diego with 43 starts among 45 appearances, an 18-9 win-loss record and 3.69 ERA for his career. He's thrown 229.0 innings with 166 strikeouts. Mott has answered the call for double-digit starts (14-plus) in each of his first three years, leading the Tritons in that category in both 2016 and 2018. The Opening Day starter as a sophomore in 2017, he may duplicate that achievement this weekend.
SHAY HEY KID
Sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb strung together UC San Diego's longest reached-base (31) and hit (14) streaks of 2018. The reached-base stretch came over the first 31 contests of his college career, finally snapped through an 0-for-4 day in the series finale at Chico State on April 9. It was the sixth-longest such streak in UC San Diego's Division II era, since 2001. The Newbury Park product missed a single contest and started the other 59 at shortstop.
UC San Diego pushed aside an 11-year-old program standard (72 in 2007) with 78 home runs a year ago. The Tritons return 42 of them, led by Alex Eliopulos' career-best 14. The record-breaker was Aaron Kim's pinch-hit, two-run blast in the eighth inning of the May 17 romp over Point Loma at the West Regional in Azusa. A remarkable eight were grand slams. UC San Diego has led the CCAA in home runs in consecutive seasons after belting 53 in 2017.
The UC San Diego pitching staff finished with a 3.93 ERA a season ago, good for 23rd in the country, third in the West Region and second in the CCAA. The Tritons have thus placed among the top three in the CCAA in ERA in six of the past seven years. The UC San Diego staff threw the fourth-most total innings in all of Division II in 2018 at 511.1, after leading the nation in 2017 (557.1).
UC San Diego continues a tradition of being strong defensively, as it wound up first in the CCAA and West Region and sixth nationally with a .974 fielding percentage in 2018. The Tritons also 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. UC San Diego 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. UC San Diego has been in the top 30 nationally and top three in the conference in fielding for each of the past nine 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. UC San Diego 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 two programs in the country have even fielded at a .980 rate since 2010, and they were Chico State in 2017 and Georgia College (.981) in 2018.
UC San Diego head coach Eric Newman, the two-time reigning American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Diamond NCAA Division II West Region Coach of the Year, has 20 returners and 15 newcomers to form a 35-player roster for 2019. His Tritons have posted back-to-back 40-win campaigns, going 43-17 a year ago with a record seventh CCAA Tournament banner and second successive regional trophy. That run included a program-record nine-game postseason win streak.
Newman welcomes back a pair of senior left-handers in power bat Alex Eliopulos at third base and Preston Mott on the mound. Other returning starters include utility Keenan Brigman, fellow redshirt junior Nick Kitzmann behind the plate, sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb, and redshirt sophomore centerfielder Brandon Stewart. More will be expected of redshirt sophomore Blake Baumgartner and seniors R.J. Prince, Christopher Schasteen and Steven Schuknecht.
Jonah Dipoto and Kyle Lucke, fourth-year seniors like Mott, are among the arms who are back, alongside the likes of redshirt juniors Blaine Jarvis and Mark Quinby, junior Ted Stuka, and sophomores Noah Conlon and Cameron Leonard. Stuka, a 6-foot-7 right-hander, was the 39th-round draft selection of the Baltimore Orioles, but opted to return to the Tritons. Conlon's freshman effort was cut short by injury.
Some top newcomers include junior college transfers Tyler Leskiw, Luke Mattson and Brandon Weed, and true freshman infielders Ryan McNally and Michael Fuhrman. Leskiw, an Australian native out of nearby San Diego Mesa College, is an outfielder, with Mattson (Golden West College) and Weed (Southwestern College) both right-handed pitchers.
UC San Diego's 2019 schedule consists of 50 regular-season games, including 26 at home ... UC San Diego is 6-1 in season openers under Eric Newman and 15-3 since moving to Division II status for 2001 ... The Tritons are 5-2 in CCAA openers with Newman in charge, having last year had its five-game win streak snapped by San Francisco State, 4-1 ... UC San Diego is 10-8 in CCAA openers all-time (since 2001), and 10-1 with seven splits in sets to begin the league season ... The Tritons were 7-1-5 in sets in 2018, and were an undefeated 3-0-1 in their last four after a lone 3-1 series loss at Chico State, April 7-9.
The CCAA baseball landscape stays the same in 2019. The top six teams in the final standings, by straight winning percentage, qualify for the 2019 CCAA Tournament. Each team will play 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. It will be held in the neutral-site city of Stockton for the seventh year in a row, returning to Banner Island Ballpark of the minor-league Stockton Ports, May 8-11. UC San Diego has earned five successive trips.
UC San Diego's road back to Cary, N.C., this year will have a different look. Though six teams still qualify for the West Regional of the NCAA Championship, there will now be two weekends of action to determine the West's representative in Cary. A pair of three-team, double-elimination sub-regionals take place May 16-18, with a super regional added the following week to mirror the Division I format. That will be a best-of-three series, taking place at a campus site, May 24-25.
UC San Diego brings back two unanimous All-West Region Second Team and All-CCAA First Team performers from 2018 in senior left-handers Alex Eliopulos at third base and Preston Mott on the mound ... Shay Whitcomb, the 2018 CCAA Freshman of the Year, earned All-CCAA honorable mention, as did fellow returners Blake Baumgartner, Keenan Brigman and Nick Kitzmann ... There are 16 players on the 2019 roster who were in Cary, N.C., last May, with seven of those Tritons (Brigman, Eliopulos, Kitzmann, Mott, Jonah Dipoto, Blaine Jarvis and Kyle Lucke) having also made the trip to Grand Prairie, Texas, for the 2017 NCAA Championship ... All but three players on the 35-man roster are California natives, the only exceptions being transfers Tyler Leskiw (Gold Coast, Australia) and Logan White, Jr. (Gilbert, Ariz.), and redshirt freshman Warren King (Bainbridge Island, WA) ... There are four San Diego products in Eliopulos (La Jolla/San Diego Mesa College/La Jolla HS), Brandon Weed (Lemon Grove/Southwestern College/Grossmont HS), Christopher Giovengo (San Diego/Grossmont HS) and Arjun Nichani (San Diego/Canyon Crest Academy) ... Dipoto, a fourth-year senior right-hander, is the son of Jerry Dipoto, who pitched eight seasons for three MLB organizations, and is the executive vice president and general manager of the Seattle Mariners ... Brigman (San Jose/UOP), a redshirt junior utility player, is the younger brother of former University of San Diego shortstop and current Miami Marlins top-30 prospect (No. 28) Bryson Brigman, a third-round selection of the Seattle Mariners in the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft ... Sophomore right-hander Noah Conlon is the younger brother of P.J. Conlon, a former left-handed ace for the University of San Diego who made his major-league debut for the New York Mets in Cincinnati on May 7, 2018, and is currently the No. 24 prospect in that organization ... White, who redshirted as a freshman at Division I Coastal Carolina last year, is the son of Logan White, director of player personnel for the San Diego Padres and senior advisor to general manager A.J. Preller.
HEAD COACH ERIC NEWMAN
Eric Newman begins his eighth season as the UC San Diego head coach. The two-time reigning ABCA/Diamond Division II West Region Coach of the Year and 2012 CCAA Coach of the Year has a 251-142 record (173-101 CCAA) in charge of the Tritons and 346-214 overall in his 10 seasons as a head coach. Newman has guided UC San Diego to back-to-back West Region crowns, sweeping through all eight games at the last two regionals, both in Azusa. The Tritons were national runners-up in 2017 in Grand Prairie, Texas. Newman led UC San Diego to the CCAA regular-season and tournament titles in his first go-around in La Jolla in 2012, and record sixth and seventh CCAA tourney championships in 2014 and 2018, respectively. The Tritons have appeared in the NCAA West Regional in four of the last five seasons, advancing to the title round each time, and earned five NCAA Championship bids in all during Newman's tenure. With UC San Diego earning the region's top seed, Triton Ballpark played host to the 2014 NCAA West Regional. Newman has led the Tritons to seven plus-.500 and six 30-win seasons, and now back-to-back 40-win campaigns. He earned win No. 200 in charge of UC San Diego 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 welcomed in an entirely new staff for the 2019 campaign in Jonathan Johnston, Bryson LeBlanc, Matt Harvey, Michael Ramazzotti and Justin Beck. Johnston is in his second go-around in the Triton dugout, having assisted Newman in his first three seasons in La Jolla, 2012-14. Harvey is the pitching coach. Beck was an All-West Region and All-CCAA Second Team second baseman for UC San Diego last year following a transfer from San Jose State. He is the undergraduate assistant coach while completing his degree in communication. Ramazzotti coaches first base, with LeBlanc at third.
ABOUT THE EAGLES
Concordia (0-0) has been picked to place third in the now-nine-team PacWest. The Eagles are in their second season of full NCAA Division II membership following the completion of a three-year transition. Like the Tritons, they open their 2019 campaign on Friday. Concordia went 22-28 overall (15-11 at home, 7-17 on the road) for a second season in a row in 2018, with a 19-21 league mark good for a sixth-place tie in the then-11-team PacWest. The Eagles will have six more games against CCAA foes, with three each against Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State San Marcos, after this weekend. Concordia returns a pair of third-year standouts in shortstop Haloa Dudoit and outfielder Jair Donovan. Dudoit has started all 100 games since arriving on campus, while Donovan sat out the 2018 season due to injury. Joe Turgeon enters his fourth season as the Eagles' head coach.
UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 35-11-1. The Tritons are 15-4 against the Eagles since moving up to Division II for the 2001 season, including a three-game sweep a year ago, 5-3 in their opener in Irvine, followed by 10-3 and 14-2 romps in La Jolla. The 2017 matchup saw a 3-1 split-venue victory, as the sides split a doubleheader in Irvine in between two UC San Diego home wins (14-0, 5-4). The teams played a four-game set in 2016, all in La Jolla, with UC San Diego rallying for a 3-1 series victory after being blanked 5-0 to start things off. Before that, the sides had last faced off over a decade ago, on Feb. 11, 2004, with the Tritons taking a 7-4 victory in La Jolla. They contested a home-and-home set early that season, with UC San Diego also winning 11-4 in Irvine one week prior on Feb. 4. The Tritons swept the two-game series in 2003 as well, with scores of 13-6 in Irvine and then 8-1 at home. The 2002 series saw a doubleheader split in La Jolla, with UC San Diego winning 11-5 before dropping the seven-inning nightcap, 2-1. A twin bill in Irvine in 2001 ended in another split, UC San Diego taking the opener, 8-3, and CUI returning the favor, 6-4. Both games were seven innings.
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.
Triton Ballpark on East Campus at UC San Diego 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 UC San Diego 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 younger, check out the Junior Triton Club. Membership includes a free t-shirt, admission to over 100 UC San Diego home athletic events, and much more!
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UC San Diego will complete the non-conference portion of its schedule by hosting the other Concordia, Concordia of Portland, Ore., for a three-game series, Feb. 11-12. Start time on both days will be 2 p.m., beginning with a doubleheader that Monday consisting of two regulation nine-inning contests.
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).