ST. GEORGE, Utah – UC San Diego was eliminated from West Region Two action following defeats to No. 15 Dixie State, 5-3, and Central Washington, 10-1, Saturday at Karl Brooks Field.
The Tritons conclude the season 34-18 following the pair of losses. UCSD made its fourth straight appearance at the NCAA West Regional and finished with at least 30 wins or more in the eighth consecutive season under head coach Patti Gerckens.
In the opener, UCSD fell to host Dixie State in the winner’s bracket matchup. The Tritons, who led 3-0 after four innings, surrendered five unanswered Red Storm runs in the final three frames to move into an elimination game.
Dixie State, winners of 23-straight games, improve to 46-8 overall and will face Central Washington in tomorrow’s championship game at 11 a.m.
Jennifer Manuel received the start, the second West Regional nod of her career, and retired the Red Storm in order in the opening frame. DSU entered as the nation’s top offense with .367 team batting average.
The Triton offense came out in the bottom half and continued where they left off yesterday behind a leadoff single from Callie Grant. After she was sacrificed to second by Caitlin Brown, Amani Proctor singled to shortstop to put runners on the corners with one out. The Tritons then executed a double steal of home and second with Grant and Proctor, respectively, to make the score 1-0. McKenna Clewett added to the advantage with an infield single to plate Proctor and put UCSD up 2-0.
Manuel retired eight straight to start the game and put up zeroes in the first three innings of the ballgame.
In the bottom of the third, Grant reached on a fielding error and stole second to start the inning. Brown, for the second time in as many at-bats, sacrificed Grant to third to bring Proctor to the plate with one out. The sophomore outfielder picked up her 14th RBI of the season with a groundout to the second baseman to cash in Grant and make the score 3-0.
After a scoreless fourth inning for both sides, the Red Storm came out in the fifth and put the first three runners on with consecutive singles to load the bases. Dixie State’s top hitter Nicole Chavez, who has 10 home runs on the year, stepped to the plate and walked to record an RBI to cut the deficit to 3-1. A single from Courtney Hine plated another run before Alexis Edwards relieved Manuel with the bases loaded and no outs.
The Red Storm plated two more runs with a sacrifice fly and a single up the middle to grab their first lead of the game, 4-3. DSU finished with five hits in the inning to gain the advantage.
The Tritons threatened in the sixth after putting two runners on with two outs, but the rally was halted with a groundout to the pitcher to keep the score 4-3 in favor of the Red Storm.
DSU added an insurance run in the top of the seventh with a solo home run to left field from Courtney Sherwin to take a 5-3 lead into the final frame.
The Tritons were retired in order in the seventh to fall 5-3.
Clewett finished a perfect 3-3 at the plate with an RBI to pace the Triton offense, while Grant finished with a hit and two runs scored. UCSD was limited to six hits in the game.
Manuel was tagged with the loss to fall to 8-6 overall after allowing four earned runs in four innings.
Dixie’s Michelle Duncan improved to 17-1 with a complete-game win, while the Red Storm offense was led by two RBI from Sherwin.
In the nightcap, Central Washington pounded out 15 hits and held the Tritons to only five knocks to win 10-1. Two big innings for the Wildcats proved to be the difference, as CWU scored four and six runs in the third and seventh innings, respectively.
Freshman Alayna Brenman was called upon for the start in the elimination game, marking the first time since April 6 the right-hander would make an appearance inside the circle.
After Brenman recorded two scoreless innings to start the game, the Tritons squandered the first opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second after Clewett was caught stealing at home in an attempted double steal of second and home.
The Wildcats grabbed the momentum and turned it into four runs the following inning with a grand slam from Kailyn Campbell to lead 4-0 after 2.5 innings.
After UCSD was limited to a pair of hits through four innings, McQuaid and Alissa Gutierrez started the fifth with consecutive singles. The rally was cut short following a double play on a popped up bunt and a fly out to left field to keep the score in favor of CWU 4-0 through five innings.
Grant led off the fifth with a walk and advanced to third after a groundout and an error by the third baseman. With runners on first and second with one out, Romero delivered an RBI single up the middle to plate the Tritons first run of the game and cut the Wildcat lead to 4-1. The inning was concluded with two consecutive groundouts as the game headed to the final frame.
The Wildcats added six insurance runs on seven hits in the seventh to make the score 10-1 as the Tritons headed to the bottom half down to their final three outs.
UCSD was retired in order in the seventh to end the game and conclude the season.
The Tritons graduate seniors Emily McQuaid, Caitlin Brown, Jennifer Manuel, Mya Romero and Kirsten Willmon this season. The five seniors helped bring in the program’s first National Championship, a National Runner-Up finish and an NCAA Regional appearance the past four seasons. The senior class currently holds a .665 winning percentage, the highest in the Division II era for UCSD. Listen to the five seniors speak about their time as a Triton by clicking here.