LA JOLLA, Calif. - The UC San Diego baseball team used the long ball to defeat Point Loma Nazarene University, 7-3, in the rubber game between the crosstown non-conference rivals Tuesday night at Triton Ballpark.
In winning its 20th game of the year, UCSD improved to 20-17 overall, while Point Loma fell to 17-20. The Tritons thus took the three-game season series, 2-1. UCSD had walked off 6-5 in 11 innings in La Jolla on Feb. 12, with Point Loma earning a 3-2 home decision on Apr. 2.
Justin Rahn was the offensive hero for UCSD as he roped a 3-1 pitch over the right field wall after junior teammate Nick La Face had worked a leadoff walk in the fourth, to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 edge.
“I’ve been working hard with (hitting) Coach (Jonathan) Johnston and just kept on grinding,” said Rahn, whose second career home run was his first since Feb. 2. “It felt good to finally see some accomplishment and get that second one.”
Rahn had earlier put the Tritons on the scoreboard in the opening frame, poking an RBI single through the right side with the first pitch he saw on the night. UCSD tallied the run via two-out rally as the PLNU second baseman booted Richard Seigel’s slow grounder with two away ahead of an infield La Face single.
“That’s been my hole all year, and I was able to get us going,” added Rahn.
Seigel later duplicated Rahn’s power stroke, also to right, as he lifted a solo moon shot with one away in the fifth to regain a 4-3 lead for the Tritons after the Sea Lions had leveled in the top half. It extended Seigel’s conference lead, now with 10 home runs. The senior first baseman becomes the first Triton to reach double digits since Kellen Lee hit 12 round-trippers in 2009.
UCSD added a single run in the sixth when redshirt freshman leftfielder Corbin Wirta took a 2-2 offering and dropped an RBI double into right center to plate Dillon Moyer with an unearned run after Moyer had reached to lead off on an infield error.
The Tritons capped the scoring with two in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk to Moyer and a wild pitch.
“They’re our crosstown rivals,” remarked Rahn of besting Point Loma. “They have a good program and it feels good to go out and win a series.”
Rahn finished 2-for-4 with the home run, run scored and career-high-tying three RBI. In addition to his home run, Seigel walked once and scored three times. La Face added a pair of hits.
Sophomore right-hander Dan Kolodin (3-1) started for UCSD and picked up the win, allowing all three PLNU runs on six hits and four walks over 5.0 innings. He struck out three.
Trevor Scott (2.0 IP, 2 BB, 2 SO), Chad Rieser (1.0), Scott Zeman (0.1, BB) and Richard Kilbury (0.2, SO) combined to toss four full frames of hitless baseball. Rieser, a sophomore left-hander, turned in the only 1-2-3 inning for the Tritons on the night, striking out a pair and getting a groundout to end the eighth.
In the ninth, Point Loma had two men on with one just one away when Kilbury went to a 2-0 count to Jack Spohn before rallying to fan the pinch-hitter swinging.
Mickey Dunleavy (3-5) was pinned with the loss after surrendering the Seigel shot.
Each team used five pitchers on the night.
UCSD concludes the non-conference portion of its 2013 schedule this Saturday afternoon, Apr. 13, hosting Azusa Pacific at Triton Ballpark at 2 p.m. The game will lead the Tritons into a key series at first-place Chico State the following weekend.
“Just get some more momentum,” concluded Rahn about what they hope to accomplish Saturday. “Today was a big one, getting the ball rolling. Just play the way we played. It’s a big game. Every game’s a big game now. Just get some momentum and some confidence going into Chico.”
Triton Notes: Nick La Face has started 94 straight games … Richard Seigel has started 74 games in a row … Seigel now has 14 home runs for his Triton career … If Seigel maintains his conference lead in the home run category, he would become the first Triton to pace the CCAA in long balls since Matt Cantele launched 23 in 2007 … Corbin Wirta started in left field for the first time after 24 in right and one in center … Wirta’s double in the sixth was his fourth of 2013 … Dan Kolodin drew his seventh career start on the mound and first since Mar. 9 … UCSD has reached the 20-win mark for the 12th season in a row, having only fallen short of that total in its first season in the NCAA Division II and CCAA in 2001 … Triton pitchers matched a season high with four hit batsmen … La Face’s fourth-inning steal was his second in five tries this year.
-- UCSDtritons.com --