No. 6 Tritons Fall to No. 3 Tampa in Cary, 7-2, Drop Into Wednesday Afternoon Elimination Game at 10 a.m. PT
CARY, N.C. - The No. 6 University of California San Diego dropped a 7-2 decision to third-ranked University of Tampa in a primetime winner's bracket showdown at the 2019 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship on Tuesday night.
Coleman Field at the USA Baseball National Training Complex is the venue for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons, and second straight year for the Tritons. The University of Mount Olive and the Town of Cary are again serving as hosts.
With the loss, three-peat West Region champion and sixth-seeded UC San Diego falls to 41-15 overall. The Tritons were the designated home team, and entered on a modest three-game win streak. Second-seeded Tampa, the South Region champion, improved to 43-14 with a ninth successive triumph.
UC San Diego will now face elimination against 19th-ranked, seventh-seeded Mercyhurst on Wednesday, June 5. That game was supposed to start at 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET), but Wednesday's schedule was announced to have been altered prior to the Tritons' Tuesday tilt. With adverse weather in the forecast, UC San Diego will now play the second game of the afternoon, and not the first. The day will begin with Central Missouri and Ashland at 7 a.m. PT (10 a.m. ET), with the Tritons and Lakers getting underway about 45 minutes following the conclusion of that one.
Tampa moves into what is effectively the semifinal round. Wednesday's survivor between UC San Diego and Mercyhurst would have to defeat the Spartans twice to advance to the finals.
Yorvis Torrealba singled up the middle to lead things off on the second pitch against a shift, but on the very next toss from Brandon Weed, was caught stealing for just the fifth time in 27 attempts on the year. It was redshirt sophomore catcher Aaron Kim's sixth caught stealing on 19 tries, as he fired to sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb for the swipe tag. Two easy popouts ended that initial frame for the Triton junior.
UC San Diego got sharp two-out singles in the first on back-to-back pitches from senior third baseman Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) and redshirt sophomore first baseman Blake Baumgartner, but a called third strike left runners at the corners.
The second pitch of the visitor second went over the left field wall, senior first baseman Cole Perry's fifth home run of the season, to give Tampa the early edge. That was followed by a walk, foulout and swinging strikeout. The Spartans got a two-out single to threaten for more, but Weed got a second strikeout to curb the damage.
Weed gave up another leadoff single to Torrealba in the third, and this time the Spartan successfully swiped second on a ball in the dirt, but the Triton right-hander got three straight flyouts, to right, left and center, to strand him.
The Tritons levelled matters in the third as senior rightfielder R.J. Prince worked a five-pitch walk for openers, and scored all the way from first on Whitcomb's league-leading 25th double of the season. The Newbury Park native took an 0-2 pitch for a ball, then fouled one off, and roped one three-quarters up the wall in left. The ball bounded away from leftfielder Stephen Smith, allowing Prince to keep running. Whitcomb was stranded there after a one-out intentional walk to Baumgartner.
Weed came back out and registered the first 1-2-3 frame by either side on the night, needing nine pitches for a flyout and two routine groundouts to Whitcomb.
The Tritons put two on with two outs for the second time in the game in the fourth. This time, they cashed that scenario in. Senior centerfielder Christopher Schasteen took a 3-2 pitch off the mark for the two-out walk. Prince then battled nicely with two strikes before dumping a single in front of Smith in left. Schasteen sped around to third, and it brought up Whitcomb. The California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Most Valuable Player promptly sent a single through the left side for 2-1.
Tampa regained a one-run edge, 3-2, in the fifth. Nick DeTringo provided a first-pitch, one-out single at the bottom of the order, before Torrealba laced an RBI triple into the gap in right center and to the wall. Weed walked the next batter, but blew a 3-2 pitch by Danny Sirven for the second out. Both Spartan runners broke, however, and Kim threw to second baseman Ryan McNally, who ran Danny Blair back to first and tagged him out to end the inning, but only after Torrealba had crossed the plate.
UC San Diego loaded the bases in the fifth on a leadoff Baumgartner single, and two-out walks to Keenan Brigman and McNally. Brigman had fallen behind 0-2, before Mason Duke threw eight straight balls and exited. Junior right-hander Jacinto Arredondo took over and got Schasteen to chop a 1-1 pitch back to him for the out.
Weed got the first two men swinging in the sixth, including high heat on Stevie Mangrum, but junior second baseman Nick Derr's opposite-field drive kept carrying and carrying and narrowly eluded a leaping Prince at the wall in right for his eighth home run and a 4-2 cushion for UT.
Tampa led off the seventh with a first-pitch double down the left field line and scored two in the frame. Junior right-hander Ted Stuka did strike out the No. 2 and No. 3 batters in the order back-to-back with Torrealba standing on third, and then got cleanup man Perry to bounce out to Eliopulos, who played the long hop before making a strong throw across the diamond to Baumgartner to save a run.
A one-out walk and opposite-field RBI Sam Freitas double made it 7-2 in the eighth.
Weed (10-3) went 6.0 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out five. The San Diego product out of Lemon Grove and Southwestern College (Grossmont HS) is an All-American, unanimous West Region Pitcher of the Year, and the CCAA Most Valuable Pitcher.
Whitcomb finished 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Baumgartner went 2-for-3 with two walks.
Duke, a senior right-hander, gave up two runs on seven hits and a season-high five walks over 4.2 frames. The Alabama native and University of Alabama transfer struck out five. Duke ducked around a leadoff single in the second.
UC San Diego left 12 men on base and was only retired in order in the sixth by Arredondo (4-1) and ninth by Sammy Peralta. Arredondo tossed 3.1 shutout frames.
The Tritons saw two more incredible defensive plays made against them after overcoming several during Sunday's win. To begin that perfect sixth, Arredondo gathered and threw from his knees to turn away Prince. Moments later, Blair, the centerfielder, dove into the gap in left center to deny Whitcomb another double.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego is now 40-23 (.635) in its 11th NCAA Division II Championship appearance ... It was the first-ever meeting between the teams ... Alex Eliopulos started his 132nd straight game, all at third base ... Eliopulos, first baseman Blake Baumgartner and shortstop Shay Whitcomb are the only Tritons to start all 56 games in 2019 ... Senior rightfielder R.J. Prince was in the leadoff spot for the 20th straight game ... Prince's walk to lead off the third extended his reached-base streak to 23 games, now the longest by a Triton in 2019, eclipsing Whitcomb's 22-gamer from earlier in year ... Prince's single in the fourth extended his hit streak to 11 games, which matches the longest by a Triton this season ... UC San Diego head coach Eric Newman posted the same batting lineup for the fourth consecutive game ... Brandon Weed drew his team-leading 13th start of the season, making his 17th appearance ... UC San Diego is now 14-3 when Weed throws a pitch ... Whitcomb's 25th double in the third inning puts him alone in second nationally in Division II ... Baumgartner's two walks increased his league-leading total to 47 ... Mark Quinby, coming off Tommy John surgery, made his first appearance since Feb. 24, 2018 ... Brandon Stewart stole his sixth base in the eighth inning, on seven tries this year ... The Tritons are 16-10 away from home, including 1-3 in neutral-site games ... UC San Diego is 7-6 against nationally-ranked foes in 2019 ... Temperature at game time was 82 degrees
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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