The game was the first of three exhibitions for the Tritons ahead of their 2013 season opener on Friday night, Feb. 1. UCSD, the four-time defending California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season and tournament champion, is ranked No. 23 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's Division II preseason poll. Concordia, from Irvine, is rated No. 11 by the same publication for the NAIA, coming off of a 38-18 campaign a year ago after winning the 2011 NAIA national title.
Monday night also marked the debut of UCSD's new scoreboard at Triton Ballpark. Junior Justin Rahn, who played exclusively in the outfield a season ago but is expected to be a two-way player this year and drew the start on the mound against Concordia, christened the scoreboard by smacking a solo home run off the face of it for his team's first run with two gone in the fourth inning.
Rahn's shot made it 2-1 in favor of the visiting Eagles, who then immediately tacked on three runs in their half of the fifth to extend to a 5-1 lead. The frame could have been worse for the home side if not for a 6-3 double play started by Dillon Moyer, a junior transfer from UC Irvine who came into the game at shortstop in the fourth.
UCSD responded with a four-run home half of the fifth, first getting back-to-back RBI singles by freshman Troy Cruz and senior All-America centerfielder Danny Susdorf. Cruz, a local product out of Chula Vista who entered the game at second base before tossing a perfect ninth, worked the count full and poked a 3-2 pitch through the right side of the infield. Susdorf followed in the identical direction two pitches later.
The very next offering from Concordia right-hander Blake Harrison resulted in a two-run triple of the seldom-seen variety by senior first baseman Richard Seigel. Seigel actually launched a three-run bomb over the wall in center field that briefly gave the Tritons a 6-5 lead. After a Concordia pitching change, however, the Eagles appealed at home plate, where the umpire called Seigel out for failing to touch home plate. The rare play went down as a two-run, game-tying triple.
Concordia ultimately scored what proved to be the winning run on an infield error in the 11th inning.
UCSD had a golden opportunity to snatch the victory in the 10th, getting back-to-back hit-by-pitches and a wild pitch to put the winning run at third base with nobody out. A groundout, intentional walk and 6-4-3 double play later, the night continued on into an 11th frame.
"I thought our pitching was really good," summed up second-year Triton head coach Eric Newman. "Our bullpen did a great job. We put those guys in some tough situations, where they had to come in with runners in scoring position, and pretty much to a man, they came in and did the job, so that was the number-one positive.
"I really liked the way a couple of our guys swung the bat. (Justin) Rahn, in particular, really swung the bat well (tonight). I saw some good things in the one inning, offensively (fifth), where we strung together a few at-bats and showed we can be a pretty explosive team. We have to be careful, (because) one negative is we didn't do that enough. We didn't put our approach into the innings enough, to really let our offensive philosophy take hold. Their lefty that they started, he was pretty good. He was tough on us. We have to adjust quicker to that.
"A couple of infield defensive plays that we have to make were negatives for us, but I thought we competed well, especially on the mound. It was a good, well-played game for those 11 innings. We just have to clean some things up and learn to step on home plate."
Rahn finished 3-for-4 with his home run at the plate, allowing two runs on five hits over his three innings of work on the mound. He walked one and struck out one.
Six pitchers got work after Rahn, with Richard Kilbury (0.2 innings, 2 K), Scott Zeman (1.2, 3 K), Cruz (1.0) and Chad Rieser (1.0) turning in scoreless stints. Zeman entered in the seventh with the go-ahead run at second, one away and a two-ball count to Concordia DH Joe Goldenberg. The sophomore right-hander, who is back at UCSD after spending the 2012 season at Ventura College, rallied to retire Goldenberg swinging and then got a flyout to end the threat.
Junior infielder Garrett Tuck had a pair of hits for UCSD.
Concordia out-hit the Tritons on the night, 12-9. Junior left-hander Cole Swanson, a San Diego native and San Diego State transfer, started on the hill and struck out five batters over an impressive 3.0 innings, with just two singles against him.
UCSD hosts Cal State San Marcos this Friday, Jan. 25, and Vanguard University next Tuesday, Jan. 29, in its remaining two exhibition tune-ups. First pitch for both contests at Triton Ballpark is set for 6 p.m. Admission is free.
-- UCSDtritons.com --