No. 14 Tritons' Comeback Falls Short in Exhibition Loss to San Diego Christian
LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 14 Universty of California San Diego baseball team scored three in the eighth and brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but dropped a 7-4 exhibition decision to visiting San Diego Christian College on Tuesday night at Triton Ballpark.
San Diego Christian, located in Santee, is from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC). Tuesday marked the sixth exhibition meeting between the sides since 2014, with UC San Diego having won each of the previous five.
R.J. Prince was the clear offensive star for the Tritons, reaching base in all five plate appearances. The senior rightfielder finished 2-for-2 with two walks, a hit-by-pitch, a second double in as many exhibitions, one run scored, one RBI and a stolen base.
On the mound, true freshman Michael Mitchell and fourth-year senior Kyle Lucke, both right-handers, turned in two strong innings apiece in relief. Mitchell struck out the side in order, all swinging, in the fourth to begin his stint. His second frame began a little rockier, with back-to-back doubles down the right field line on successive pitches to the top of the order making it 4-1 in favor of San Diego Christian. An infield single and a walk loaded the bases, but the Santa Cruz product induced a foulout to his catcher and a pair of strikeouts to limit the damage to a run.
With UC San Diego having allowed another single tally in the sixth and two more scores in the seventh for a 7-1 deficit, Lucke settled things down by retiring all six batters he faced. The eighth consisted of a groundout, popout and swinging strikeout. Lucke then needed just nine pitches in the ninth for two swinging strikeouts around a groundout.
The three-run eighth happened without the benefit of a single hit for the Tritons, as they took advantage of an outfield error to lead off, three walks, two hit-by-pitches and two wild pitches. Senior Christopher Schasteen notched the lone RBI, a fielder's choice groundout with the bases loaded to plate freshman Michael Fuhrman.
UC San Diego still had the bags full with only one out, but junior right-hander Brandall Buckles, Jr., entered to produce an infield popout and swinging strikeout.
In the home ninth, Prince drew a four-pitch walk with one gone, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball with two away. A walk to Schasteen brought up birthday boy Tyler Leskiw as the tying run, but a called third strike finally ended the lengthy game at three hours and 54 minutes.
The contest saw the teams combine for 20 walks, 13 issued by the visitors, and an unofficial pitch total of 385.
Prince's two hits were among just four knocks for the Tritons, to nine by the Hawks.
UC San Diego had tied the game at 1-1 in the second as redshirt junior leftfielder Keenan Brigman singled up the middle with one out and sprinted all the way around to score on Prince's single down the right field line.
UC San Diego awaits one final preparation opportunity this Friday, Jan. 25, with the annual Alumni Game set for a 6 p.m. first pitch at Triton Ballpark. Admission is free, but parking permits are required. That will be exactly one week prior to the Tritons' season opener at Concordia Irvine on Feb. 1 at 2 p.m.
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.
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