No. 14 Tritons Host Sonoma State for Four
The No. 14 University of California San Diego baseball team continues California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play with a four-game home series this weekend at Triton Ballpark on East Campus in La Jolla. The Tritons (9-4, 4-4 CCAA) welcome in Sonoma State University (4-4, 3-2 CCAA) beginning Friday, March 1. The schedule was altered Wednesday with rain in the forecast. The teams will now play a doubleheader Friday, starting at 3 p.m., with a seven-inning nightcap, rather than a single primetime opener at 6 p.m. They will attempt to play a single contest Saturday at 2 p.m. Sunday's getaway-day finale is now an hour earlier, at 11 a.m. Please stay tuned for any further updates here on UCSDtritons.com, and on Twitter (@UCSDbsb, @UCSDtritons).
This weekend's series will match statistically the bottom two team batting averages in the CCAA, with the Tritons hitting .237 and the Seawolves at .211. UC San Diego does boast the league's best staff ERA at the moment, however, at 2.65, and is second in fielding percentage (.972).
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. 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 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 was 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 were 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. In the most recent NCBWA editions, UC San Diego is down two spots to No. 6 nationally (one of 20 first-place votes), but still No. 1 in the West (five of eight first-place votes).
|Tritons in the Polls|
|Collegiate Baseball Newspaper||No. 14||No. 14||N/A|
|NCBWA||No. 6||No. 4||No. 1|
|Perfect Game||No. 14||No. 17||N/A|
LAST TIME OUT
UC San Diego rallied to earn a valuable series split against 16th-ranked rival Cal Poly Pomona last week after managing just four total hits in dropping the first two meetings. Scores of Saturday's doubleheader sweep at home were 6-0 and 9-2 in seven innings. Noah Conlon (2.0) and Ted Stuka (7.0) combined on a six-hit shutout to get things started, with Stuka's career-best ninth strikeout ending the game. Keenan Brigman's opposite-field, two-run triple into the right field corner ignited a three-run fourth. Brandon Weed drew his first mound start in the shortened nightcap and went five-plus strong innings. Both Bronco runs came in the first frame, before the Triton offense got going, capped by a monster blast by Aaron Kim to lead off the sixth.
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). The Tritons currently lead the CCAA with a 2.65 ERA, good for second in the West Region and ninth nationally in Division II.
UC San Diego got off to a 7-0 start for the first time in its Division II history, since 2001. The Tritons finally suffered their first loss on Sunday, Feb. 17. They were previously 5-0 to begin the 2016 campaign under Eric Newman.
ELIO AT THE HOT CORNER
Alex Eliopulos has started the last 89 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 leads the team with a .333 batting average, 12 runs and 17 hits, and has driven in six.
MOTTY ON THE BUMP
Preston Mott, a left-hander from Clovis, is in his fourth and final season at UC San Diego with 47 starts among 49 appearances, a 19-10 win-loss record and 3.55 ERA for his career. He's thrown 248.2 innings with 180 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. On Feb. 1 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 10 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 tied for fourth with Shibuya and Trevor Decker.
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 2018 CCAA Freshman of the Year missed a single contest and started the other 59 at shortstop.
Coming off a program-record 78 a season ago, UC San Diego got its new home run account going in the home opener on Feb. 3, 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, but all three of them so far in 2019 have come in home contests, with the first two to the opposite field in right center, and the most recent one a rare shot to straightaway center (seen here) against Cal State Monterey Bay on Feb. 16.
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).
UC San Diego has one walk-off victory in 2019, courtesy of senior rightfielder R.J. Prince. His two-run double plated Blake Baumgartner and Christopher Schasteen on Feb. 16. It was Prince's first walk-off hit at any level of baseball.
• Feb. 16: UCSD 4, CSUMB 3 (Watch)
Prince walked off No. 27 CSUMB to complete a doubleheader sweep and give the Tritons their first 7-0 start in the program's Division II history. His two-run, opposite-field double on an 0-2 pitch found the right field corner and chased Baumgartner home ahead of pinch-runner Schasteen as the winner.
Junior college transfers Alex Athanacio, Tyler Leskiw, Luke Mattson, Zach Tresemer and Brandon Weed have all made their UC San Diego debuts. Redshirt freshman Christopher Buting and true freshmen Blake FitzGerald, Michael Fuhrman, Ryan McNally, Michael Mitchell and Lonnie Morris have also all earned their first collegiate appearances for the Tritons. McNally's first two college hits were RBI singles, one in each half of the Feb. 23 doubleheader home sweep over No. 16 Cal Poly Pomona.
Seniors Alex Eliopulos and Preston Mott both earned preseason All-America recognition from a pair of outlets. Eliopulos was 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. Eliopulos was listed in Baseball America as one of 17 top draft prospects from the Division II ranks.
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.
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.
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 6-2 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 11-8 in CCAA openers all-time (since 2001), and 10-1 with eight 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. 25) 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 ... 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 plays 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 260-146 record (177-105 CCAA) in charge of the Tritons and 355-218 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 SEAWOLVES
Sonoma State (4-4, 3-2 CCAA) won its four-game home series against Stanislaus State over the weekend, 3-1. The Seawolves dropped the opener, 2-1, but roared back to sweep Saturday's doubleheader, 5-2 and 4-3, and won another close one Sunday, 7-5. Sonoma State's initial CCAA series was cut short due to weather, as it lost to San Francisco State, 9-8, with game two suspended by darkness with SSU leading, 15-4, in the eighth. The remaining two meetings will also be rescheduled. The Seawolves are 1-3 away from home in the early going in 2019. All four of those contests were actually at nearby Santa Rosa Junior College and went down as neutral-site affairs, meaning Friday marks Sonoma State's first true road games this year. John Goelz is in his 34th season in charge at Sonoma State, and has compiled over 1,000 career wins.
UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 41-33, with a 3-1 series victory in Rohnert Park last March. The Tritons dropped the first meeting of the three-game set in 2017 in La Jolla, 5-1, before surging to a doubleheader sweep the next day by scores of 11-1 and 14-1. The teams split a shortened two-gamer in Rohnert Park in 2016, the Tritons winning 3-2 before being blanked, 1-0, in the doubleheader nightcap. UC San Diego posted a 3-1 series victory at SSU in 2015. All four of those contests were also close. The Tritons edged out 4-3, 4-1 and 4-3 decisions with a 5-3 loss in the seven-inning doubleheader nightcap. The four-game set in La Jolla in 2014 was entirely and uncharacteristically (for San Diego) wiped out by rain, even after Sonoma State had made the trip south. The Seawolves won three of four at home in 2013, with UC San Diego only salvaging the finale, 11-3. The 2012 season saw the Tritons take six out of a total of seven head-to-head matchups, all in La Jolla. After sweeping the four-game regular-season set, UC San Diego faced off with Sonoma State three more times at home in the CCAA Championship, and ultimately retained its tournament trophy. UC San Diego's last series defeat to SSU prior to 2013 came in its 2009 visit to Rohnert Park, also by a 3-1 count. That set featured some remarkable pitching and great drama as all four contests were decided by a single run (1-2, 2-3, 2-3, 3-2).
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 is on the road for a four-game CCAA set next weekend at San Franciso State, March 8-10.
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).