No. 14 UC San Diego Hosts Concordia Portland for Three-Game Series
The No. 14 University of California San Diego baseball team continues a season-long eight-game homestand with a three-game non-conference series against visiting Concordia University of Portland, Ore. The undefeated Tritons (2-0), preseason favorites of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), will be idle over the coming weekend before beginning their set against the Cavaliers (2-2), picked to place fourth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), with a doubleheader on Monday, Feb. 11. Both of those games will be of the regulation nine-inning variety. The single series finale follows on Tuesday, Feb. 12. Start time each day is at 2 p.m. at Triton Ballpark on East Campus in La Jolla. UC San Diego will ultimately play seven home contests over seven days from Monday through Sunday, as the Tritons welcome in No. 27 Cal State Monterey Bay to kick off their 44-game CCAA slate, Feb. 15-17.
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. 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 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. Fans are encouraged to arrive early both on Monday, Feb. 11, and Tuesday, Feb. 12, as parking will be a challenge between students still on campus, and baseball fans arriving for the games. The next closest parking lot is located further down Voigt Drive heading in toward campus, on the right after crossing the Interstate 5 bridge.
A majority of 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. Back 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. 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|
LAST TIME OUT
UC San Diego won a pair of tight decisions over Concordia Irvine last weekend to begin the new campaign, losing the middle contest in Irvine to the rain, which will hopefully still be rescheduled for later in the year. The Tritons notched a 3-2 victory in 10 innings in the season opener Friday on the road, taking advantage of two costly Eagle errors for single unearned runs in the fifth and 10th frames. Kyle Lucke got a swinging strikeout with the winning run at third base to get out of the ninth, before posting a perfect 10th to earn the decision. Shay Whitcomb led off the visitor 10th with a walk, moved to second on Alex Eliopulos' one-out single, then to third on Blake Baumgartner's flyout to deep right center, only to then sprint home as the outfielder's throw got away from his infield teammate. In Sunday's home opener, Baumgartner was the offensive star, driving in four runs, highlighted by a three-run, opposite-field home run, also to right center, to make it a 5-1 game in the third en route to a 6-4 final. He added a bases-loaded walk for that sixth tally in the sixth inning, overturning an 0-2 hole. Lucke again handled the final six outs, this time for his first collegiate save, giving fellow senior Jonah Dipoto the win.
Only two newcomers made their UC San Diego debuts in last week's two meetings with Concordia Irvine, in junior right-handed pitchers Brandon Weed (Southwestern College) and Luke Mattson (Golden West College). Both tossed 3.0 strong innings, with Weed (H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K) in relief Friday in Irvine, and Mattson (6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 4K) in a starting role in Sunday's home opener. Otherwise, the Tritons used the exact same starting lineup in both games, consisting entirely of returners.
Coming off a program-record 78 a season ago, UC San Diego got its new home run account going in Sunday's home opener, getting a pair from redshirt sophomore roommates Brandon Stewart and Blake Baumgartner. Stewart provided the first long ball of 2019, a solo shot to lead off the second, with Baumgartner adding a three-run, opposite-field bomb over the wall in right center in the third. Stewart's was just the second of his career, and first at Triton Ballpark. Only one of Baumgartner's five blasts in 2018 were in La Jolla.
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 has started the last 78 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. Eliopulos registered a pair of multiple-hit games already over the first weekend, going 5-for-10 with a double and RBI.
MOTTY ON THE BUMP
Preston Mott, a left-hander from Clovis, is in his fourth and final season at UC San Diego with 44 starts among 46 appearances, an 18-9 win-loss record and 3.62 ERA for his career. He's thrown 234.0 innings with 173 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. Last Friday in Irvine, he became the first Triton arm since all-time wins, innings and strikeouts leader Tim Shibuya (2010-11), to earn the starting assignment for multiple season openers, having also done so as a sophomore in 2017. Mott is now just 13 starts shy of matching Jose Navarro's (57 from 2003-06) program record, at least for the Division II era (since 2001). He is currently alone in sixth, three off of Shibuya and Trevor Decker in fourth.
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. Whitcomb was back in the leadoff spot of the batting order over the opening weekend, having led the team with 43 starts there a year ago. He did not hit there, however, over the last 15 games of 2018, after April 28 at Cal State LA.
UC San Diego pushed aside an 11-year-old program standard (72 in 2007) with 78 home runs a season 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 7-1 in season openers under Eric Newman, now with seven straight wins, and 16-3 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.
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, Wash.) ... 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.
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.
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.
HEAD COACH ERIC NEWMAN
Eric Newman is in 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 253-142 record (173-101 CCAA) in charge of the Tritons and 348-214 overall in his 10-plus 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 over his first three seasons in La Jolla, 2012-14. Harvey is the pitching coach. Ramazzotti coaches first base, with LeBlanc at third. Johnston returned from UNC Asheville, with LeBlanc (UC Riverside) and Harvey (UC Santa Barbara) arriving from future Big West Conference foes, and Ramazzotti making the short jump from the University of San Diego. Beck was an All-West Region and All-CCAA 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.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS
Concordia (2-2), from Portland, Ore., is favored for fourth place in the six-team GNAC, whose tournament champion will for the first time in 2019, earn automatic qualification into the NCAA West Regional. The Cavaliers opened their season with a split at fifth-ranked NAIA power Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, splitting a pair of doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday. CU is in just its fourth campaign as a member of the NCAA Division II and GNAC. The Cavaliers were previously of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). They finished 20-32 overall in 2018, including 19-21 in GNAC play, good for fourth, and 10-22 away from home. CU thus grabbed the fourth and final spot at the GNAC Championship, earning a first-ever berth. The Cavaliers play three games at UC San Diego's CCAA rival, San Francisco State, Friday and Saturday, before heading further south into La Jolla. They return 2018 All-GNAC First Team pitcher Isaac Mitchum, with fellow senior Kaleb Jones having picked up honorable mention. Rob Vance, the 2018 GNAC Co-Coach of the Year, is in his 21st season in charge at Concordia with over 400 career wins.
The all-time series sits even at 6-6. UC San Diego won the four-game set to open the 2017 season for both teams, three games to one, in La Jolla. The Tritons took the first two contests, 5-1 and 14-2, before the Cavaliers earned a 4-1 decision in the doubleheader nightcap. Trailing 8-6 late in the finale after surrendering a six-run seventh, UC San Diego produced a three-run ninth, walking off thanks to a two-run double into the gap in left center by Brandon Shirley, to come away with the series victory. They had not met for some time prior to that, at least not since 2001, when UC San Diego moved from the NCAA Division III to Division II.
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 jumps right into the grueling 44-game CCAA schedule against No. 27 Cal State Monterey Bay with a four-game set in La Jolla, Friday through Sunday, Feb. 15-17. The series starts with a primetime affair under Friday night lights at 6 p.m. The Tritons and Otters finished an identical 30-14 in league play in 2018, with CSUMB taking the regular-season banner via tiebreaker rules.
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).