TURLOCK, Calif. – Alexis Edwards and Caitlin Brown powered No. 20 UC San Diego to a pair of wins Sunday at the Tournament of Champions at Pedretti Sports Complex to win the Platinum Bracket. Edwards fired a second-consecutive complete game shutout in the opener as UCSD beat Montana State Billings, 1-0, before Brown’s late heroics at the plate in game two gave the Tritons an 8-5 win over Cal State East Bay.
The Tritons stand at 28-7 overall after finishing 6-1 at the TOC. Humboldt State won the tournament with a 4-0 win over Sonoma State in the championship game.
Edwards and Callie Grant were named to the All-Tournament Team after action concluded. Grant finished as the TOC’s Batting Champion after posting an impressive line in seven games: .542, 13-for-24, 7 Runs, 2 RBI, 14 TB, .583 Slug %, 2 BB, .577 OB%, 2 SB. The sophomore helped UCSD finish the tournament with a .342 team batting average to finish only behind SSU’s .372 mark. Edwards was just as stellar inside the circle: 5-0, 0.46 ERA, 3 CG, 2 SHO, 30.1 IP, 16 H, 2 ER, 17 SO, .157 B/AVG.
The opener featured a pitching duel between Edwards and Montana State Billings’ Jessyka MacDonald. The game, which finished in a quick 1:40, featured seven total hits, one walk and 12 strikeouts. Edwards proved to be a few pitches better and earned her 15th win of the season for her second consecutive complete-game shutout in the 1-0 win for UCSD.
Edwards’ final line consisted of seven innings, three hits, one walk and six strikeouts. The strikeout total was a season high and one off her career high of seven putouts set in 2013. The complete-game shutout was the seventh of her career and fourth of this season.
The only trouble Edwards ran into was in the final frame. MSUB led off with an infield single and added another runner with a single to right field, with an Edwards’ strikeout in-between. The lefty escaped the mini jam with a foul out to Emily McQuaid and a groundout, fittingly, to Edwards to seal the 1-0 win.
The Tritons gave Edwards the run she needed in the fourth inning on two hits. Brown doubled to left center, her team-leading eighth of the year, and was brought home by Katie Saunders’ double a batter later to left.
Saunders finished with two of the four Triton hits. She improved her batting average to .443 and RBI total to 27. Brown and McKenna Clewett tallied the other two hits.
In the finale of the TOC, UCSD faced a familiar foe in Cal State East Bay for the fifth time in 2014. The game proved to be an instant classic, as each team received big hit after big hit before the Tritons escaped with an 8-5 win. The victory moved UCSD to 5-0 on the season against the Pioneers, as the Tritons earned a sweep earlier in the year in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play on Feb. 21-22.
The Pioneers got to starter Alyana Brenman in the first frame by scoring four times on six hits. After a strikeout to start the game, the Pioneers recorded six straight hits. Jaynie MacDonald delivered the big blow with one swing of the bat, a grand slam that made the score 4-0.
UCSD managed a run in the bottom half of the first on two hits. Grant doubled to left field to open the frame and was brought home on an RBI double from Amani Proctor. The Tritons cut the deficit to 4-2 in the fourth after scoring a run on three hits. Brown doubled to center field to lead off and was singled home by Mya Romero.
The Pioneers responded, however, the next half inning and gained the momentum back with a run to extend the lead back to 5-2. CSUEB scored on two hits, a single and double.
The Triton offense wasn’t finished and answered the Pioneer run with three of their own in the bottom half of the fifth. After a quick out, Grant singled through the left side to start the rally. Proctor followed with a single down the left field line to put two runners on and bring Brown to the plate. The senior worked a 2-2 count before blasting a home run to left field to bring the Tritons all the way back and tie the game 5-5. It was her co-team high third homer of the season and 23rd of her career.
The Tritons received a shutdown from Edwards in the next half due in large part to three strong defensive plays from McQuaid at third base. She snared a hard-hit line drive with a diving catch before making two sprawling stops before getting up to fire the ball to first for the outs.
The defensive effort carried UCSD’s momentum into the offensive side as the Tritons tallied three runs on three hits to take control of the game. Kirsten Willmon and Clewett singled to start the sixth before McQuaid laid down a bunt that escaped the Pioneer defense in a perfectly located spot. The bunt went down as a double and an RBI as the rotating defense wasn’t able to corral the ball before McQuaid reached second. UCSD manufactured the final two runs on a Proctor fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly from Brown.
Edwards came out in the seventh and made quick work of the Pioneers to clinch the 8-5 win.
The lefty improved her record to 16-2 after throwing 6.2 innings of relief of Brenman. She allowed four hits, one earned run and struck out two. She continues to lower her team-leading ERA every time she toes the rubber as it now stands at 1.33.
The offense was led by three hits from Grant and four RBI from Brown. Willmon, Proctor and Brown all finished with two hits apiece in the win, while Grant and Brown scored two runs each.
UCSD continues CCAA play next weekend on the road at San Francisco State. The Tritons will play a pair of doubleheaders on Friday, Apr. 11 (1 p.m.) and Saturday, Apr. 12 (11 a.m.).