No. 5 UC San Diego Sweeps a Ninth Doubleheader, Clinches Eighth Series Win at Cal State East Bay
HAYWARD, Calif. - Fifth-ranked University of California San Diego scored four in the third and three in the fourth and cruised past Cal State East Bay, 8-3, to begin a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) doubleheader at Pioneer Baseball Field on Friday. UC San Diego then broke a 1-1 deadlock late in the seven-inning nightcap to take that one, 4-1, remarkably to sweep a ninth twin bill on the season.
A winner now of six straight, UC San Diego improved to 34-10 overall and 29-10 in the CCAA. The Tritons had already clinched the league's regular-season title with a 21-2 romp in the series opener on Thursday afternoon. Friday's results also secured yet another series success, as they remain 8-0-4 in 2019 sets. Cal State East Bay dropped to 22-27 overall and 19-24 in league play, and is now officially eliminated from postseason contention, if it wasn't already following Thursday's contest.
Two local products led the way in Friday's first game, as senior third baseman Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) blasted a three-run home run in the third, to back junior right-hander Brandon Weed (Lemon Grove/Southwestern College/Grossmont HS), who fired five shutout frames as UC San Diego remained perfect at 13-0 in games he pitches.
UC San Diego and Cal State East Bay conclude their series with a getaway-day noon first pitch on Saturday, May 4. Parking and admission are free on Senior Day at Pioneer Baseball Field in Hayward.
Game One - No. 5 UCSD 8, CSUEB 3
For the second straight contest, senior rightfielder R.J. Prince led off the game with a six-pitch walk, but for the second game in a row, it was wiped out by a double play.
Leftfielder Keenan Brigman began the third by getting hit by a Dylan Dudley pitch. Fellow senior Steven Schuknecht, the designated hitter, then reached as his perfect sacrifice bunt was picked up and thrown away by the Pioneer third baseman, leaving Tritons at the corners with nobody out. Following an infield lineout. Prince ripped an RBI single up the middle for the day's initial run.
With two away, Eliopulos belted his fifth home run of the year, a three-run shot pulled deep over the fence in right for a sudden 4-0 cushion.
The home third began with East Bay's first hit of the contest, and a four-pitch walk. Weed got leadoff man Dakota Conners and No. 2 hitter Steve Robinson both swinging, and three-hole batter Ryan McSwain to bounce out to sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb to notch the shutdown inning the hard way.
UC San Diego came right back out and added to its lead as freshman second baseman Michael Fuhrman reached via infield error, and Brigman took the first pitch of his at-bat to the opposite field and split the gap in right center for his team-best third triple of 2019. With one away, senior centerfielder Christopher Schasteen walked, and Prince did his job by producing an RBI groundout to third base. Whitcomb followed with an RBI single to left as the speedy Schasteen sprinted around and slid safely.
Weed was still cruising in the fifth, with only a two-out infield error against him, but his fifth strikeout erased that. The inning had opened with an easy flyout to Schasteen and a first-pitch groundout to Eliopulos.
Ted Stuka, like Weed a junior right-hander, took over in the sixth and worked a perfect frame on two flyouts around a swinging strikeout on a high fastball for a 3-2 pitch after falling behind 3-1. He was facing the 2-3-4 hitters in the East Bay order.
The home team pulled a pair back in the seventh. They loaded the bases on a one-out infield single, walk, and then a two-out walk. An RBI single to right and a third walk chased Stuka in favor of Jonah Dipoto. The fourth-year senior right-hander threw one pitch and got McSwain to line out to Blake Baumgartner at first.
The Tritons started to rally again in the eighth, as redshirt freshman Logan White, Jr., sent a pinch-hit, leadoff single up the middle. Schasteen then laid down the sacrifice bunt. He was actually initially ruled safe, but called out after an umpire gathering. An infield single by Prince put men at the corners for Whitcomb, who provided the fielder's choice RBI groundout to shortstop for 8-2.
Dipoto had little issue in the eighth, with a groundout to Fuhrman, single through the right side, swinging strikeout, and strikeout looking. He registered the final three outs as well, around Jacob Eder's first home run, to left with one away.
The visitors opened the ninth with a single up the middle by Baumgartner and walk to redshirt junior catcher Nick Kitzmann. A fielder's choice groundout left Tritons at the corners, however, and a 5-4-3 double play capped the frame with no runs across.
Weed (9-0) scattered a single and two walks over his five shutout innings. He struck out five, and was perfect in the first and fourth. Weed ducked around a two-out walk in the second with his first strikeout. He was pulled early with a 7-0 lead, with next week's CCAA Tournament in mind.
Prince and Whitcomb each provided two hits and two RBI. Whitcomb's double was his league-best 23rd. He began the week in a tie for first nationally in that statistical category. Eliopulos was 1-for-4 with his home run, one walk, a run and an RBI.
Defensively, Fuhrman dove to his left, got up and made the strong throw in time for the second out in the home first. Schasteen ranged into the gap in right center and near the wall to make the inning-ending grab on Weed's next toss. Whitcomb gathered firmly in the shortstop hole and fired across the diamond in the ninth.
Dudley (4-3) gave up seven runs, all of them unearned, on seven hits, four walks, a hit-by-pitch and a wild pitch over 7.0 frames, striking out four. The junior right-hander was perfect in the second on a pair of groundouts and the game's first strikeout, called. Dudley also retired the Tritons in order in the fifth.
Game Two - No. 5 UCSD 4, CSUEB 1 (7)
Both left-handed starters were perfect in the first. Triton senior Preston Mott had two swinging strikeouts to end his frame after a flyout.
East Bay generated a threat in its second turn, with a leadoff single and a two-out walk, but Mott got a groundout and flyout in between, and then a fielder's choice groundout to Whitcomb, who flipped to Eliopulos the short way, to cap the inning.
Kitzmann was hit by a pitch to lead off the third. Schasteen, unable to put the bunt down initially and thus in an 0-2 hole, slapped the Tritons' first hit of the contest up the middle for a single. Prince then did get the sacrifice down to put both teammates in scoring position for Whitcomb. The CCAA Most Valuable Player candidate put a charge into one to deep center, which went down for a sacrifice fly and 1-0 edge.
After a first-pitch bunted comebacker, Motty gave up a double just inside the third base bag and into the left field corner to Conners at the top of the order. The Clovis product came back to get Robinson swinging and then froze McSwain for a third out.
Mott issued a second walk after a leadoff groundout, and following a first-pitch ball and mound visit from pitching coach Matt Harvey, a single right in between a diving Eliopulos and Whitcomb made for stressful moments once more for the visitors. A passed ball was made insignificant as another walk loaded the bags for the Pioneers.
A first-pitch sacrifice fly by Matt Cantelme tied the game, though Prince almost threw out the runner, Robert Lujan, at the plate. Another free pass filled the bags once more before Mott was able to get Conners to fly out to Schasteen back at the top of the order.
Mott worked a quick fifth with a swinging strikeout, tough play by Eliopulos on the short hop, and first-pitch 3-1 putout as he gathered the flip from Baumgartner.
Whitcomb finally put an end to Brian Martinez's stretch of 10 straight retired with a solid one-out single to center in the sixth. Eliopulos then hit it to shortstop Ryan Thomasy for what appeared to be a routine, inning-ending double play, but the Pioneers' middle infield messed it up, and Thomasy got caught between stepping on the bag and throwing it himself, and flipping to second baseman Conners. The end result was Tritons at the corners with one away. Baumgartner did his job and did it well, belting a deep fly ball to the opposite field in right center for a tiebreaking sacrifice fly, his team-leading fourth on the year. Kim then really made the home side pay, hammering his team-best 10th home run well over the fence in left for 4-1.
Mott (7-1) went 5.0 innings and allowed one run on three hits and four walks, striking out five. He was rewarded for his resilience with milestone career win No. 25.
True freshman right-hander Michael Mitchell took over after the three-run sixth and worked around a one-out single through a called third strike, flyout to leftfielder Alex Athanacio, and first-pitch liner directly into Eliopulos' glove at third.
Fourth-year senior closer Kyle Lucke came on for the seventh, and after two groundouts that Whitcomb handled coolly, got Robinson swinging for his eighth save.
Kim wound up 1-for-3 with the home run, run scored and two RBI. Schasteen finished 2-for-3. Whitcomb went 1-for-3 with a run and RBI. He had three RBI on the day.
Martinez (7-3) gave up four runs, one of them earned, on three hits, one walk and a hit-by-pitch over 6.0. The junior fanned four. Martinez cruised through an easy first on three ground-ball outs, and ducked around a leadoff walk to Baumgartner in the second. He was also perfect in the fourth with two flyouts preceding a swinging strikeout, and the fifth with two strikeouts following a bunted comebacker.
Triton Notes: Alex Eliopulos started his 119th and 120th straight games, all at third base ... Eliopulos, first baseman Blake Baumgartner and shortstop Shay Whitcomb are the only Tritons to start all 44 games in 2019 ... Senior rightfielder R.J. Prince was in the leadoff spot for the seventh and eighth straight games ... The Tritons are 12-6 on the road ... The Tritons are 33-4 in 2019 when scoring at least three runs, and 23-2 when hitting a home run ... Game One: Eliopulos' third-inning home run was the 24th of his Triton career ... Keenan Brigman's triple in the fourth was the ninth of his college career ... The sacrifices by Steven Schuknecht and Christopher Schasteen were the third of the season for each senior ... Brandon Weed drew his ninth mound start as a Triton in his 13th appearance ... Game Two: Preston Mott earned his ninth mound start of the year and 52nd of his Triton career, now alone in third for at least the program's Division II era (since 2001), moving ahead of former ace Byron Grubman (2003-06) and one behind fellow two-time West Region champion Kirby St. John (2007-10).
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 37 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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