at 2014 CCAA Championship
Banner Island Ballpark • Stockton
Saturday, May 10 • 3 p.m. or 7 p.m.
The 18th-ranked UC San Diego baseball team begins postseason play with the 2014 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship this week in Stockton. The Tritons will travel by bus to the Bay Area on Wednesday, May 7, departing East Campus at 8 a.m. They practice that evening at Banner Island Ballpark from 5-5:55 p.m., before opening the four-team, double-elimination tournament on Thursday night, May 8, at 7 p.m. As the third seed, UCSD (32-14) faces second-seeded and ninth-ranked rival Chico State (37-11). The other opening-round game will pit top-seeded and 30th-ranked CCAA regular-season champion Sonoma State (27-14) against fourth-seeded and 19th-ranked Cal Poly Pomona (31-13) at 3 p.m.
The two losing teams from Thursday square off in an elimination game at 3 p.m. on Friday, with the winners playing at 7 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday night, May 10, with a second title contest set for 12 p.m. on Sunday should there still be two teams remaining with one loss apiece. The winner of the 2014 CCAA Championship earns automatic entry into the 2014 NCAA Division II Championship. The 48-team NCAA field will be announced on Sunday night, May 11, at 7 p.m. PT. The show can be viewed live here.
The 2014 CCAA Championship is co-hosted by the Stockton Ports and the Stockton Convention and Visitor's Bureau. The Ports are the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball. This marks the second year in a row in which the CCAA tournament is held at the neutral-site, minor-league facility.
UCSD is 17-7 outside of La Jolla in 2014. The CCAA tourney will feature the top four pitching staffs in the league this year, with Chico State No. 1 (2.44 ERA), Sonoma State No. 2 (2.86), CPP No. 3 (2.94) and UCSD No. 4 (3.19).
Club seats for the 2014 CCAA Baseball Championship at Stockton's Banner Island Ballpark are $12, while general admission is $9. Students with identification and seniors can attend for $5, and children ages 3-12 for $3. Tickets are good for an all-day pass (two games, with one at the most on Sunday, May 11), and are now on sale. Please click here to purchase, or call (209) 938-1555. Gates will open an hour before the start of the first game. Click on the links on the right-hand column here for details about the area and facility.
For UCSD's opener at the 2014 CCAA Championship on Thursday night at 7 p.m., longtime Chico State play-by-play announcer and sports director at Chico's Newstalk1290 KPAY, Michael Baca, will have the audio call online through Stretch Internet. All games in Stockton will have live stats here. Fans can access all live coverage from the Schedule/Results page. Finally, starting lineups, live between-inning updates and other in-game news and notes can be found by following Triton Baseball on the UCSD Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons).
CCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
UCSD is making its 10th appearance at the CCAA Championship. The Tritons are five-time champions, first in 2005, and then four straight years from 2009-12. They have posted a record of 20-12 (.625) at the event. Chico State (24-23, .511) is making its record 15th CCAA tourney appearance, and fifth straight, as a three-time champion. Sonoma State (25-15, .625) has earned its 12th berth, and fourth in a row. Like UCSD, the Seawolves have five tournament banners. Cal Poly Pomona is 7-8 (.467) with no titles over four prior trips to the CCAA Championship, most recently in 2011. The first of 15 previous editions of the event took place in 1999. Before last year's installment at Banner Island Ballpark, the city of Stockton also hosted it at the University of the Pacific's Klein Family Field in 2010 and 2011, with UCSD the champion both times. The Tritons went 6-2 over those two title runs.
BACK IN THE POSTSEASON
UCSD's 6-4 victory at SF State on Saturday, April 19, combined with Cal State Dominguez Hills wrapping up a 7-0 home shutout of Cal State East Bay, put the Tritons back in the CCAA Championship after a one-year hiatus, which came on the heels of four straight tourney titles. In fact, the Tritons had qualified for nine successive CCAA tournaments beginning with their debut in 2004. Heading into the final week of the regular season, UCSD needed to sweep Cal State San Bernardino and hope that Sonoma State and Chico State split their four games, in order to share the regular-season title with the Seawolves. After Chico won the first two games in Rohnert Park, Sonoma State came back to take the final two, including a come-from-behind 10-7 decision at neutral-site Raley Field in Sacramento on Sunday afternoon. The Tritons, however, had suffered a 4-3 defeat to CSUSB in their finale to cap a doubleheader split on Saturday, winning the series, 3-1, but falling narrowly short of Sonoma State in first.
STILL FOURTH IN NCAA REGIONAL LISTING
The second release of the all-important NCAA regional rankings occurred last Wednesday, April 30, with the top five teams in the West remaining the same, and UCSD still in fourth behind California Baptist, Chico State and Cal Poly Pomona. The top six teams in the final version make up the NCAA Division II Championship West Regional. The winner of the 2014 CCAA Championship, May 8-11, earns an automatic berth into the West Regional. The NCAA Division II Championship selection show is set for 7 p.m. PT this Sunday, May 11, and will be streamed live on NCAA.com. The field will again consist of 48 teams being separated into eight six-team regionals. The eight regional winners head to Cary, N.C.
UCSD appeared at No. 39 in the preseason edition of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's NCAA Division II top-40 poll released back on Dec. 24. The Tritons returned to the top 30 at No. 30 on March 17. UCSD got as high as No. 18 on April 14, and after a dip down to No. 25, are back up to No. 18 in that poll. The Tritons are at their highest spot of the year of No. 15 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) poll, and are at No. 2 in the NCBWA West Region.
ABOUT THE WILDCATS
No. 9 Chico State (37-11, 29-10 CCAA), the 2013 West Region runner-up, split its four-game series with Sonoma State last weekend. The Wildcats needed one win over their final two to secure the CCAA regular-season title, after taking the first two games of the set, but fell 4-2 and then 10-7 in Sunday's finale at Raley Field in Sacramento. Chico State is 14-6 away from home on the year. The Wildcats have a CCAA-best team ERA of 2.44. Senior right-hander Nick Baker (9-1, 1.56 ERA), Chico State's lone All-CCAA First Team selection in 2013, and newcomer Brad Lohse (8-0, 1.43) are among the top three in the league in wins and ERA. Luke Barker (4-2, 2.36) is the CCAA co-leader with 13 saves. Offensively, the Wildcats are batting .291. Senior centerfielder and leadoff man Ryne Clark paces the team with a .335 batting average. Chico State tops the nation with a .980 fielding percentage. Dave Taylor is in his eighth season in charge at Chico State.
UCSD holds a 33-31 edge over Chico State since 2001, when the Tritons moved up to the NCAA Division II and joined the CCAA. This includes a 21-13 advantage over the last 34 meetings since 2008. UCSD is 27-26 against Chico State in regular-season league contests, 6-3 at the CCAA Championship and 0-2 in NCAA Championship play. The Tritons are 15-14 in La Jolla, 15-14 in Chico and 3-2 at neutral venues, having split the four-game sets in each of the last three years. The Tritons, who defeated Chico State at the CCAA Championship in three straight seasons prior to last year, went 3-2 in all in 2012 with the five games taking place in La Jolla. The teams split their four-game series before UCSD posted a 9-1 victory on its way to a fourth straight CCAA Championship crown. In 2005, UCSD fought all the way back after losing its tournament opener at Chico's Nettleton Stadium to Cal Poly Pomona, to win its first CCAA tourney title. Needing to beat the host Wildcats twice on the final day, the Tritons did just that, taking a pair of narrow one-run decisions, both in extra innings, 5-4 in 11 and 7-6 in 12.
ABOUT THE SEAWOLVES
No. 30 Sonoma State (27-14, 24-8 CCAA) has won two in a row, in rallying for a series split against Chico State last weekend that netted them a regular-season banner. Eric Ehlow, a junior catcher out of Saddleback College, is batting .325 with a team-best three home runs and a .500 slugging percentage. Senior right-hander George Asmus (6-1), a Division I transfer from Washington, leads the CCAA with a 1.06 ERA. He has 54 strikeouts against just seven walks, with opponents hitting just .208 off of him. Sonoma State is 12-6 away from home in 2014, and is batting .276 as a team with a 2.86 ERA and .962 fielding percentage. John Goelz is in his 29th season in charge at Sonoma State with over 975 career wins.
UCSD leads the all-time series, 32-29. The teams have not met yet in 2014, as their four-game series in La Jolla Feb. 28-March 2 was cancelled due to poor weather. The Seawolves won three of four at home last year, with UCSD only salvaging the Sunday finale, 11-3. The 2012 season saw the Tritons take six out of a total of seven head-to-head match-ups, all in La Jolla. After sweeping the four-game regular-season set, UCSD faced off with Sonoma State three more times at home in the CCAA Championship, and ultimately retained its tournament trophy. UCSD'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). UCSD is 5-4 against the Seawolves at the CCAA Championship, and won the title over them in both 2009 and 2012.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS
No. 19 Cal Poly Pomona (31-13, 23-12 CCAA) was idle from competition last weekend. The Broncos most recently won 10-6 at Azusa Pacific on April 29 after dropping two of three at Chico State. They are 11-9 in road games in 2014. Senior leftfielder David Armendariz, a Division I transfer from Cal Poly with just this 2014 season of eligibility remaining in Pomona, has league bests of nine home runs and 50 RBI to go along with 10 steals on 14 attempts while batting at a .326 clip. The Broncos are hitting .300 as a team, with a 2.91 ERA as a staff. Sophomore left-hander Max Bethell is 7-3 with a 3.16 ERA, while junior right-hander J.J. Franklin (2-1, 1.59) has a program-record eight saves. Randy Betten is in his fourth season in charge at Cal Poly Pomona.
UCSD leads the all-time series between these teams, 36-24, and holds an 18-10 advantage over the last 28 meetings since 2009. The teams have split their four-game sets in each of the past three years, with both sides 3-3 at home and 3-3 on the road. Cal Poly Pomona ended the Tritons' 2011 campaign at the NCAA West Regional held in La Jolla. UCSD is 3-2 against CPP at the CCAA Championship, and won the crown over the Broncos in 2011.
LAST TIME OUT
UCSD opened its regular-season-ending set with CSUSB by winning a pair of single games last Thursday (9-2) and Friday (9-6) in San Bernardino. In game one, the Tritons opened up a 6-0 gap with Troy Cruz (3-for-5) and Brandon Shirley (2-for-4) leading the attack. The pair combined to score three runs and drive in five. Justin Donatella, the first of five hurlers, upped his season record to 7-2. The next day, behind Trevor Scott, UCSD posted a pair of three-run innings and held off a late Coyote comeback. Scott went seven quality innings to record his sixth win. Cruz and seniors Garrett Tuck and Justin Rahn each had two hits, with the latter plating a pair as well. Back in La Jolla Saturday, UCSD won its third game of the series and sixth straight overall when it exploded for five seventh-inning runs to erase a 4-0 deficit en route to a 6-4 triumph to open the doubleheader. Nick La Face’s bases-loaded triple was the key blow, and David Hart got his first win in relief. The Coyotes turned the tables in game two, scoring two in the fifth and another pair in the seventh for a 4-3 victory after trailing 3-0. UCSD had just four hits and Cruz was the hard-luck loser on the hill.
STAR OF THE MONTH HONOR FOR CRUZ
UCSD standout Troy Cruz was named late last week as a San Diego Hall of Champions Star of the Month for April. A sophomore and local product out of Chula Vista and Bonita Vista High School, Cruz hit a team-best .435 (20-for-46) with 12 runs, four doubles, two triples, 10 RBI, three steals and a team-high .609 slugging percentage over 12 starts in the month to lead UCSD to a 12-3 overall record, including a 10-2 mark in league play and 8-3 on the road. The two-way performer also went a perfect 4-0 in four mound starts with a 1.38 ERA over a team-best 26.0 innings pitched.
UNDEFEATED IN CCAA SETS
UCSD completed the 2014 CCAA slate last Saturday without suffering a league series loss, with three sweeps, two 3-1 wins, and four splits. The Tritons' four-game home series with regular-season champion Sonoma State was washed out entirely by inclement weather, Feb. 28-March 2. UCSD split its four-game sets with the other two participants of this week's CCAA Championship, over the first two weekends of the conference schedule, with Chico State at home and Cal Poly Pomona in a split-venue affair.
FACE ON FIRE
Nick La Face is having an incredible final year in a Triton uniform. He has played in 45 of 46 games, starting all 45, and is hitting a team-best .348, seventh in the CCAA. La Face leads the league in triples (5), walks (41) and on-base percentage (.495), and is second in doubles (18), RBI (45) and slugging percentage (.563). He also paces UCSD in home runs (2-tied) and total bases (89). La Face has posted single-season career highs in batting average, runs, doubles, triples, RBI, walks, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. He had one career triple before belting a pair in the series vs. Chico State, one in the finale vs. Cal State Monterey Bay (3/16), one at SF State (4/17), and the latest to clear the bases and tie the game late vs. CSUSB (5/3) . His two home runs have come at home against Chico State (2/15) and Azusa Pacific (4/26). La Face had reached base in 35 straight contests, the longest such streak by a Triton in 2014, when that streak was snapped by four flyouts in the April 18 nightcap at SF State (0-for-3, SF, RBI). He reached base in six straight plate appearances prior to a strikeout in the third inning of the doubleheader opener with CSUMB (3/15). Read a Triton Q&A with La Face here.
UCSD LEADING LEAGUE IN RUNS
UCSD is the No. 1 offensive team in the CCAA, having scored 313 times. That is an average of 6.8 runs per game over 46 contests. The Tritons have reached double figures in runs 12 times, with eight coming during this current stretch of 18 wins in their last 22. UCSD is 24-3 this year when it produces six runs or more in a game. Eight Tritons have tallied more than 20 runs in 2014, paced by CCAA leader Erik Lewis' 49, with five at 30-plus RBI. In fact, five of the top nine run producers in the conference are from UCSD. In possibly their biggest inning in program history, the Tritons recently used 11 hits to tally 11 runs in the ninth inning of a 17-3 rout in game one of an April 18 doubleheader at SF State.
LA FACE APPROACHING WALKS MARK
With a league-best 41 walks thus far on the year, Nick La Face has increased his career total to 128. He is 14 away from tying the program record for career walks of 142, set by Matt Cantele between 2006-09. La Face's 41 free passes are a new single-season best for the fifth-year senior, who walked 35 times in 2013. He is four walks from matching Aaron Bauman for the program's single-season record of 45 (2010). La Face ranks fourth in the entire nation in the NCAA Division II in walks per game, at 0.91, and is tied for sixth in total walks. La Face drew at least one walk (15 total) in 11 straight games prior to the finale with CSUMB, and had walked in another seven contests in a row entering the SF State series. La Face has earned a free pass a career-high three times on two occasions in 2014, with 10 multi-walk games in all.
UCSD's .976 fielding percentage (1176-497-42) ranks second in the CCAA, behind only Chico State (.980), and sixth in the entire country in Division II. Eleven times over the last 22 games in which the Tritons are 18-4, they have played error-free baseball. In the last 26 games, UCSD has committed more than one error on four occasions, twice in wins. The program record for single-season fielding percentage is .984 from 2010.
LA FACE CLIMBING MORE CAREER CHARTS
In addition to his pursuit of UCSD walk marks, Nick La Face is also up into a tie for fifth (with Danny Susdorf) on the program's all-time chart in doubles (57) and ninth in RBI (137). He is two doubles away from Garrett Imeson (2006-09) in fourth.
UCSD has a current team ERA of 3.19. That number rates fourth in the CCAA and 27th nationally in the NCAA Division II. The Tritons are 16th in walks allowed per nine innings (2.5), 31st in hits allowed per nine innings (8.43), 15th in WHIP (1.21) and 24th in shutouts. UCSD's six shutouts this season are its most in the Division II era (since 2001). The 3.19 mark is the program's best under third-year pitching coach Rob Avila.
Justin Donatella (7-2) won seven of his nine conference starts, only taking a no-decision at Cal State East Bay (3/28) and a loss at SF State (4/17). He has the ninth-best ERA in the CCAA at 2.48, and is tied for fourth in wins and tied for eighth with 54 strikeouts. The sophomore right-hander put together a shutout stretch of 17.1 innings from Feb. 20 to a March 24 relief stint at Azusa Pacific. Donatella allowed two runs on four hits and three walks over 7.0 innings at No. 15 Cal Poly Pomona, retiring 11 straight Broncos at one point. He gave up one hit over six shutout innings in an 8-1 victory over No. 12 Chico State (2/14), walking two with six strikeouts while outdueling Chico State ace and then-reigning CCAA Pitcher of the Week Nick Baker. Donatella set down 10 batters in a row during one stretch. That win was his second as a college pitcher and first as a starter. At home on March 6, Donatella put it all together for 6.2 no-hit frames and 8.1 shutout innings in all, setting a new program record for the Division II era with 13 strikeouts while scattering three hits without a walk. He achieved a new career long in each of his first four appearances of 2014. The big 6-foot-6 product of Saugus who saw just 13.2 innings of work as a freshman in 2013 (11.20 ERA), wrapped up the exhibition season with nine shutout frames over two starts with six hits allowed, all singles, no walks, and 14 strikeouts.
GET ON BASE THE TRITON WAY
UCSD ranks first in the CCAA in walks (233) by a wide margin and second in hit-by-pitches (75), behind only Chico State (77) in the latter category. Sonoma State is closest in walks, way behind with 169. Tritons Nick La Face (41) and Erik Lewis (37) are 1-2 in the league individually in bases on balls, with Justin Rahn fifth (28). UCSD is seventh nationally in the category. Fourteen different Tritons have been hit at least once, led by Michael Mann with 14 and Brett Levy with 11. Mann leads the conference, with Levy tied for sixth.
CRUZ DOING IT ALL
Triton sophomore Troy Cruz has been a jack of all trades once again this season. The 2013 All-CCAA First Team selection at utility is the only Triton who has started all 46 games, at either third base (31), pitcher (11) or designated hitter (four). UCSD is 7-2 in league games in which he has been the starting pitcher (8-3 overall), including six straight wins prior to the loss to CSUSB (5/3). In his first mound start of the season on Feb. 16, Cruz went 7.0 innings (6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) to earn the win and the series split for UCSD against Chico State. He threw seven more innings without a decision against Cal State Monterey Bay (3/16) to help the Tritons gain another series split. Cruz tossed the first complete game by a UCSD pitcher in 2014, going 6.0 innings in a 12-4 win at CSUDH (3/8). He then twirled the first nine-inning complete game by a Triton since Ryan Goodbrand on May 18, 2012, to clinch the series victory at Cal State East Bay (3/30). The nine innings and six strikeouts that day both marked career bests. Cruz produced his second career seven-inning shutout at Cal State L.A. (4/5), and threw another seven effective frames in a victory at Cal State Stanislaus (4/13). He accounted for the Tritons' lone complete game in 2013, and has four for his career. Cruz hit in the leadoff position in each of the first eight games, and is now batting .338 with 30 runs, 10 doubles, three triples, 36 RBI and a team-best eight steals on 10 attempts. He has also made two relief appearances.
UCSD overturned a three-run deficit to come from behind and win in four of nine games between April 3-13. To begin their split-venue series with Cal State L.A., on April 3 and April 4, the Tritons trailed 3-0 before scoring six and four unanswered runs, respectively. They posted a four-run seventh to take a 5-3 lead in the first meeting, before striking for three runs to walk off in the ninth inning the following night. At Cal State Stanislaus, UCSD opened the April 12 doubleheader with a 5-4 triumph after trailing 4-1 heading into the ninth. Garrett Tuck's 10th-inning RBI single proved to be the winner. The Tritons fell behind 3-0 after four innings in the Sunday finale on April 13 before a four-run sixth spurred them on to a 4-3 victory. Most recently on May 3, UCSD trailed 4-0 at home to CSUSB when it struck for five in the seventh en route to a 6-4 success.
Senior Justin Rahn is second on the team with a .345 batting average. He is second on the team and tied for third in the league with 40 RBI. Rahn tops the UCSD chart with 58 hits and two home runs (tied), and is second with 11 doubles and 77 total bases. He is third in the CCAA in on-base percentage (.459), eighth in hitting and ninth in slugging (.458). Rahn is one of three Tritons to appear in all 46 contests, with 45 starts in the outfield. He has two of eight UCSD home runs in 2014, both coming at home. Rahn homered on Opening Day in the nightcap vs. Holy Names (2/2), a two-run shot to center in the second, and added another two-run blast that cleared the scoreboard in right in the nightcap vs. Azusa Pacific (4/26). Rahn reached base in each of the first 23 games prior to the series opener at Cal State East Bay (3/28). His recently-snapped hit streak of 15 games is the longest by a Triton in 2014, and the best of his UCSD career.
E-LEW PROVIDING A BIG SPARK
Erik Lewis has been a revelation in his first season at UCSD. The former Long Beach State (2011-12) and Fullerton College (2013) player has appeared in all 46 games, starting 45 at second base. He is fourth on the team with a .337 batting average, and ranks first in the CCAA by 11 runs with 49. Lewis is tied for 12th in the league in hitting, and second in both walks (37) and on-base percentage (.472) behind teammate Nick La Face. Lewis has a team-best 17 multi-hit games (tied), including one four-hit effort. Defensively, he has been charged with just four errors in 261 defensive chances for a .985 fielding percentage, and has contributed to 39 double plays. He handled 103 plays in a row cleanly before his first error on March 13, and 111 straight until his second on April 19.
UCSD has three walk-off wins in 2014. In the first game of a Feb. 22 doubleheader with Cal Poly Pomona, UCSD produced its first such triumph, 6-5, as Garrett Tuck's single to center drove in Troy Cruz from second base. Gradeigh Sanchez had stolen home as a pinch-runner to level the score just moments before as the Tritons erased the 5-4 ninth-inning deficit. Then in the March 16 series finale with Cal State Monterey Bay, Sanchez provided the pinch-hit, two-out single through the left side of the infield on an 0-2 pitch to plate Brett Levy from second base in the 4-3 triumph. Watch it here. Most recently, freshman centerfielder Jack Larsen's two-run single up the middle with one away completed a three-run ninth and comeback from a 3-0 deficit as UCSD edged Cal State L.A., 4-3. Watch that hit here.
HE'S THE MANN
In his first season at UCSD following a transfer from Diablo Valley College, junior Michael Mann has made an immediate impact on the program, starting 45 of 46 games at first base. He is third on the team and tied for sixth in the league with 37 RBI. Mann is hitting .282 with 29 runs, eight doubles, one home run and a CCAA-best 14 hit-by-pitches. He missed just the series opener at Cal Poly Pomona (2/20). Mann has both a four-hit game, coming in the opener of a doubleheader at Cal State Dominguez Hills (3/8), and a pair of four-RBI performances. The first was in the nightcap of that same twin bill, with the latter to open the double dip at Cal State L.A. (4/5). His first home run in a Triton uniform came in the series opener at Cal State East Bay (3/28).
UCSD entered its series with Cal Poly Pomona Feb. 20-22 with six double plays over its first nine games. The Tritons turned nine during the four-game weekend split, with four in the opener and three the next day. Four different CPP batters hit into the four double plays in that first game, with the first two started by Tyler Howsley, a true freshman making just his fourth start at shortstop. The last two came in the eighth and ninth, with a pair of Broncos on base each time as UCSD held on for a 4-2 victory. The Tritons had last turned four double plays at San Francisco State on April 30, 2010. That 2010 squad that went 54-8 and lost in the national championship game, set a school record with 68 twin killings on the year. The Tritons have now turned 46 double plays in 46 games in 2014, 18th nationally in Division II. They are 13th in double plays per game (1.0).
DOUBLE DIP CYCLE FOR SANCHEZ
Sophomore outfielder Gradeigh Sanchez hit for the cycle during the March 28 doubleheader at Cal State East Bay. He led off the opener with an inside-the-park home run, marking the first round-tripper of his college career. Sanchez then added a leadoff triple in the seven-inning nightcap and a fourth-inning double to complete the feat, with a single in each contest. Having entered that series with one career extra-base hit in the form of a double on March 15, Sanchez now has four. During his career-best six-game hit streak from March 16-30, Sanchez was 9-for-21 (.429) with eight runs, three RBI, a double, a triple, a home run, five walks and a stolen base. He also played a key role in the first two walk-off victories for the Tritons in 2014.
STANISLAUS SERIES SUPERLATIVES
UCSD drew 30 walks in 35 innings played in its four-game sweep at Cal State Stanislaus, April 11-13 ... The Triton bullpen threw 11 complete innings of shutout baseball (6 H, 1 BB, 12 SO) over the four contests, courtesy of Javier Carrillo, Jr. (1.0), Dean Friedberg (1.0), David Hart (4.0), Dan Kolodin (1.0), Chad Rieser (1.0) and Scott Zeman (3.0) ... Most impressive among that group was Hart, who retired 12 of 13 batters faced in his three appearances, with five on strikes and six more on ground balls ... Blake Fassler needed just 54 pitches to get through five effective innings in his victorious start in the nightcap of the Saturday doubleheader (4/12).
GOLDEN EAGLES SWEPT ASIDE
UCSD swept a split-venue, four-game series from Cal State L.A., April 3-5. The Tritons overturned 3-0 deficits in each of the first two primetime meetings in La Jolla, winning 6-3 and then 4-3 in walk-off fashion. They scored three in the ninth in the latter affair, capped by a two-run single by Jack Larsen. UCSD then took both ends of the Saturday doubleheader in Los Angeles. A season-high 19 hits led to a 13-2 demolition in the opener. Troy Cruz then tossed his second career seven-inning shutout in the nightcap as the Tritons won, 2-0. It marked the second of three CCAA sweeps for UCSD in 2014.
LA FACE NAMED CCAA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Nick La Face was selected on March 10 as the CCAA Baseball Player of the Week for the week of March 3-9. La Face, a native of North Hollywood (Notre Dame HS), continued his hot start to his fifth and final season as a Triton, leading UCSD to a four-game, split-venue CCAA series sweep over Cal State Dominguez Hills. He hit .545 (6-for-11) with eight walks for a .737 on-base percentage and two doubles for a .727 slugging percentage. La Face started all four games, scored four runs and drove in seven. He was the second Triton to earn a weekly conference honor after Justin Rahn on Feb. 3.
DIVISION II ERA SINGLE-GAME STRIKEOUT KING
Sophomore right-hander Justin Donatella struck out a career-high 13 over a career-long 8.1 innings (3 H, 0 BB) in a 1-0 home victory against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Thursday, March 6. The strikeout total was a UCSD program record in the NCAA Division II era (since 2001). Matt Rossman struck out 12 over a remarkable 11.0 innings against Central Missouri at the 2010 NCAA Division II Championship in Cary, N.C., on May 24, 2010, and Jeff Rauh set down 12 on strikes in six complete frames vs. Western Oregon on 2012 Opening Day (2/3). Donatella tossed 6.2 no-hit innings before allowing a double.
UCSD put together a five-run second inning and benefitted from four errors in posting a second successive shutout victory against Cal State Dominguez Hills, 7-0, at Triton Ballpark on March 7. The Tritons thus produced back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1995, having blanked the Toros in the opener of their four-game CCAA series the previous night, 1-0. In 1995, UCSD had shutout wins on the road at Concordia, 5-0, on April 3, and Southern California College (now Vanguard), 6-0, on April 5. UCSD has six shutouts in 2014, the others a 9-0 decision vs. Holy Names on Opening Day (2/2), a 12-0 road rout of Cal State East Bay (3/30), a 2-0 success in seven innings at Cal State L.A. (4/5), and a 16-0 destruction of Azusa Pacific (4/26) at home.
WEEKLY AWARD FOR RAHN
Justin Rahn's stellar Opening Day netted him the season's first CCAA Baseball Player of the Week award on Feb. 3. It was the first of his career. Rahn put UCSD on the scoreboard in both victories over Holy Names, clearing the bases with a three-run double to left in the first inning of game one and adding the first home run by a Triton in 2014, a two-run shot to center, in the second inning of the nightcap.
The Tritons are 23-1 when out-hitting the opposition, the lone loss coming at SF State, 7-6 on April 17, when they managed 13 hits to just nine by the Gators ... Senior right-hander Blake Fassler, who walked just nine in 64.2 innings against 50 strikeouts for a stellar strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.56 in 2013, has gone at least 5.0 innings in 16 of his 20 starting assignments as a Triton, including eight of 11 in 2014 ... Fassler retired 16 straight SF State batters from the first to the sixth in a losing effort in game two of an April 18 doubleheader on the road... Junior left-hander Trevor Scott threw his first career complete game in the March 28 doubleheader nightcap at Cal State East Bay, tossing the full seven frames ... Redshirt freshman outfielder Brandon Shirley laced a 2-2 pitch down the left field line for a double in the eighth inning of game one of the Opening Day doubleheader with Holy Names (2/1) to punctuate the first at-bat of his Triton career ... UCSD ended then-15th-ranked and previously undefeated Cal Poly Pomona's perfect 10-0 start to the campaign with a 4-2 victory behind seven strong innings from Justin Donatella and four clutch double plays defensively in Pomona (2/20) ... UCSD is 2-1 in season openers under Eric Newman and 11-3 since moving to Division II status for 2001 ... UCSD is 2-1 in CCAA openers with Newman in charge, with back-to-back wins after a 4-1 loss to Chico State in La Jolla on Feb. 17, 2012 ... The Tritons are an even 7-7 in CCAA openers all-time (since 2001), and 7-1 with six splits in sets to begin the league season ... Having earned a third straight split with a 7-3 win in the Sunday finale on Feb. 16, UCSD still has not lost its regular-season four-game series with rival Chico State since 2007, when it dropped three of four in Chico ... Troy Cruz was named on Jan. 29 to the utility position on the 15-player NCBWA Preseason All-West Region First Team ... UCSD was picked to place sixth in the 2014 CCAA regular-season race by the league's 11 head coaches, also as announced on Jan. 29, with 2013 West Region runner-up Chico State favored for the third time in as many years to finish first, and reigning CCAA regular-season champion Cal State Monterey Bay projected for second ... All but two players on the 37-man 2014 roster, junior pitcher Alon Leichman (Kibbutz Gezer, Israel) and redshirt outfielder Tim White (Stratford, CT), are California natives ... Besides Cruz (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista HS), the four remaining San Diego products are fellow sophomore Adrian Orozco (Chula Vista/Otay Ranch HS), redshirt freshman Austin Hensley (San Diego/Valhalla HS) and redshirts Steven Coe (Valley Center/Valley Center HS) and Gabe Simpson (Encinitas/Cathedral Catholic HS).
UCSD's 2014 schedule consisted of 46 regular-season games (following four rain cancellations with Sonoma State), including 22 at home within the friendly confines of Triton Ballpark. The Tritons had the luxury of facing the two projected favorites in the CCAA, Chico State and Cal State Monterey Bay, a combined eight times in La Jolla. UCSD played 16 of its first 21 at home, before closing with 19 of 25 on the road, going 14-5. For the second year in a row, the CCAA Championship will be held at Stockton's neutral-site Banner Island Ballpark, home of the Stockton Ports, the Class A Advanced affiliate of Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics. The four-team tournament takes place May 8-11, with UCSD a five-time champion (2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).
PLENTY OF TALENT BACK
UCSD's 36-player 2014 roster features 17 letterwinners, two returning redshirts and 17 newcomers. The Tritons bring back six of nine position starters, as well as three of four starting pitchers from a year ago. Troy Cruz was the 2013 CCAA Freshman of the Year and an All-CCAA First Team honoree after a standout rookie campaign as a multiple threat on the mound, in the field and at the plate. The senior tandem of fifth-year catcher Nick La Face and fourth-year left-sided infielder Garrett Tuck were both All-West Region selections in 2012, and are each former All-CCAA First Team picks in their own right, with Tuck in 2012 and La Face in 2011. Tuck earned that distinction at shortstop, and looks to be back at that position after spending 2013 at third base. Spencer Frazier and Justin Rahn are two more senior veterans who garnered All-CCAA honorable mention in 2012. On the mound, right-handers Cruz, Blake Fassler and Dan Kolodin were in the rotation in 2013. Senior right-hander Scott Zeman and junior left-hander Chad Rieser are again available out of the bullpen.
There are 17 players new to the Triton roster. Junior transfers Erik Lewis and Michael Mann are everyday starters at second and first base, respectively. Lewis spent the 2013 season at Fullerton College after beginning his college career at Division I Big West Conference power Long Beach State. Mann is from Diablo Valley College. Tyler Howsley, Jack Larsen and Christian Leung are three true freshmen who have earned their college debuts and started several games. Larsen and Howsley were teammates at Capistrano Valley High School. Three new arms to see the mound this season have been Eric Moersen, a sophomore left-handed specialist who transferred from the University of Utah, and junior right-handers Javier Carrillo Jr., and Dean Friedberg. Moersen, who redshirted at Utah in 2012, needed 12 pitches to retire the first three batters he faced over three appearances, with two on strikes. Eight newcomers are taking a redshirt year.
HEAD COACH ERIC NEWMAN
Eric Newman is in his third season as the UCSD head coach. The 2012 CCAA Coach of the Year has a 91-62 record (72-44 CCAA) in charge of the Tritons and 186-134 overall in his five seasons as a head coach. Newman guided UCSD to the 2012 CCAA regular-season and tournament titles in his first go-around in La Jolla, and a subsequent berth in the NCAA Division II West Regional. He has now led the Tritons to a second CCAA Championship in his three years, as well as a second 30-win campaign. Newman previously spent three years at the helm of Dallas Baptist University from 2004-07.
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Following the conclusion of the 2014 CCAA Championship in Stockton, the NCAA Division II Championship selection show is set for 7 p.m. PT this Sunday, May 11, and will be streamed live on NCAA.com. The field will again consist of 48 teams being separated into eight six-team regionals.