SEASIDE, Calif. - UC San Diego rallied from a 3-0 deficit, only to suffer a walk-off defeat in the ninth to No. 8 Cal State Monterey Bay, 4-3, in the opener of a four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball series at the Otter Sports Complex on Friday afternoon.
The loss drops UCSD to 25-22 overall and 19-18 in the CCAA. Cal State Monterey Bay, now a winner of 11 straight overall and 14 in a row at home, improved to 35-12 overall and 27-10 in league play. The Otters were tied atop the conference standings with Cal State L.A. entering this final weekend of the 2013 regular season, and are now half a game up on the Golden Eagles (26-10), who are at third-place Chico State (25-11) for a 6 p.m. Friday series opener.
The result also deals another blow to the Tritons’ hopes of playing beyond this weekend. Though knocked out of contention for a 10th straight CCAA Championship berth last Sunday, UCSD held onto the all-important No. 6 spot in Wednesday’s second installment of the NCAA West poll, with the top six teams in that final ranking on May 12 qualifying for the NCAA West Regional.
Both starting pitchers set the opponent down in order in the opening frame, with UCSD right-hander Ryan Goodbrand striking out the first two batters he faced.
Triton juniors Justin Rahn and Nick La Face became the first two base-runners of the game through back-to-back one-out walks in the second, but Will Anderson struck out the side around the free passes. He would do so again in the seventh.
Mark Hurley, the Rawlings/CCAA Player of the Week for each of the past two weeks, notched the contest’s first hit to lead off the bottom half and eventually scored from second on a two-out single through the right side by Tommy George. With Otters at first and second, Goodbrand got Michael Lonsdale to fly out.
Consecutive singles by seniors Victor Rasor-Thompson and Ronnie Fhurong at the top of the order put CSUMB in position with runners at the corners to widen its edge to open the home third. Goodbrand immediately dialed up a 4-6-3 double play on his first pitch to Brian Haggett, though Rasor-Thompson scored to make it 2-0, before catching Hurley looking at strike three to end the inning.
UCSD interspersed a Dillon Moyer double and another La Face walk around two more Anderson strikeouts in the fourth, but could not push its first run across.
Cal State Monterey Bay added a third run with another two-out RBI single in the fourth, this one a blooper by Lonsdale. Rasor-Thompson stared at strike three for the third out as the Otters still threatened for more with men at second and third.
The Tritons got a single and a double to start the fifth from the two hitters at the bottom of their order in Troy Cruz and Spencer Frazier. Senior All-American centerfielder Danny Susdorf chased them both home with a two-run single up the middle on a 1-1 pitch from Anderson, and UCSD was on the scoreboard, down 3-2.
After a stolen base and consecutive infield groundouts, Moyer knocked in Susdorf from third with a single through the left side to knot the game at 3-3.
Goodbrand got back on the hill and quickly posted his second and third 1-2-3 frames. The senior ace gobbled up a comebacker following consecutive swinging strikeouts to get through the fifth and induced three straight flyouts, to center, left and right, in order in the sixth.
In what ultimately turned into a pitcher’s duel over the latter half, Anderson duplicated the two clean innings in succession. Goodbrand’s stretch of eight straight retired was finally ended by a one-out, first-pitch Lonsdale single in the seventh, but his defense again cleaned that up with an 8-3 double play as Lonsdale got caught.
Anderson gave way to begin the eighth to fellow junior right-hander Josh Eagle, who continued to keep the Tritons at bay with three more infield outs.
Triton head coach Eric Newman then likewise pulled his starter heading into the home half of the eighth, sending out Chad Rieser. The sophomore left-hander produced a couple of groundouts around a lineout from CSUMB’s 2-3-4 hitters, sending the game into the ninth still deadlocked at 3-3.
Eagle (2-4) turned away UCSD again with nothing across in the top of the ninth, and earned the win with his two perfect frames. He struck out two.
Cal State Monterey Bay opened the last half with a single by third baseman David Garcia, with Jason Merjano’s ensuing sacrifice attempt going down as an infield bunt single. Junior right-hander Scott Zeman took over on the mound. George was able to put down his bunt to push the Tritons to the brink. Cannon Bernarding was walked intentionally to create a force at every base. Jesse Olson, pinch-hitting for Lonsdale, took an 0-1 pitch and singled through the left side for the walk-off 4-3 Otter win.
Goodbrand allowed three runs on six hits and two walks over 7.0 innings of work, striking out six, as neither starter figured in the decisions. Reiser (1-2) took the loss.
Anderson went 7.0 frames as well and gave up three runs on six hits and three walks. He fanned nine, retiring the Tritons in order in the first, sixth and seventh.
Moyer finished 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and stolen base for UCSD. Susdorf was 1-for-4 with a run, steal and two RBI.
Lonsdale was 2-for-3 with one RBI for CSUMB. Bernarding drew all three walks.
The series continues with a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.
Triton Notes: UCSD still leads the all-time series, 24-8, since 2006, including 11-5 in Seaside … Nick La Face has started 104 straight games … Richard Seigel has started 84 games in a row … Dillon Moyer started his 47th straight game at shortstop, and remained in the cleanup spot for the third successive contest … La Face, Seigel and Moyer are the only Tritons to have started all 47 games in 2013 … Scott Liske has made 15 straight starts in right field, and with his infield single in the third, has reached base safely in 17 games in a row … Spencer Frazier has made nine consecutive starts at second base … Ryan Goodbrand drew his 27th start on the mound for UCSD and remains 19-3 for his career … Goodbrand has gone at least 5.0 innings in 26 of his 27 outings, with the Tritons posting a 21-6 record when he starts … Moyer’s fourth-inning double was his 15th on the year … Frazier’s fifth-inning double was his second … Danny Susdorf’s league-leading 27th stolen base in the fifth gave him a new single-season high for his career, having swiped 26 bags as a junior in 2012 … Scott Zeman made his league-leading 27th appearance … It was Moyer’s 13th multi-hit game of 2013 and Susdorf’s fifth two-RBI performance.
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