LA JOLLA, Calif. - For the second straight night, the UC San Diego baseball team found itself trailing visiting Cal State San Bernardino by two runs heading into the latter stages of the game.
This time, however, the Tritons’ attempt at late-game heroics fell just shy, as they suffered a 4-2 defeat to the Coyotes on Senior Night at Triton Ballpark Friday.
The loss dropped UCSD to 23-21 overall and back to an even 17-17 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). The Tritons now trail fourth-place Sonoma State (20-13), a 3-2 winner in 10 innings at league-leading Chico State, by three and a half games. Cal State San Bernardino moved to 16-26 overall and 10-24 in league play. The result also leveled the four-game set after UCSD had won Thursday, 7-3.
Down 2-0 through five innings, the Tritons finally got on the scoreboard in the home sixth. Spencer Frazier drew a one-out walk before junior infield mate Garrett Tuck followed suit with two away. Senior first baseman Richard Seigel then came through in the clutch and dropped a 1-2 pitch into center field for an RBI single.
Following a two-run Coyote rally in the eighth, UCSD was staring at a 4-1 deficit with six outs left to play with on the night. Freshman designated hitter Troy Cruz reached base on an infield error to open the home eighth and senior pinch-hitter James Mossholder worked a five-pitch walk. Senior All-American centerfielder Danny Susdorf’s sharp opposite-field single to right loaded the bases with nobody out.
All three Tritons advanced on a wild pitch by Coyote starter Kerry Kelley, Cruz notching the unearned run to make it a 4-2 game. That’s all they would be able to muster, however, as a high foul ball led to a pair of outs, and a strikeout ended it.
Freshman pinch-hitter Gradeigh Sanchez led off the ninth with a pinch-hit walk off of CSUSB’s Matt LeVert, who began his relief outing with six straight balls. Back-to-back flyouts led into another four-pitch free pass to senior rightfielder Scott Liske. Another strikeout brought that rally effort, and the game, to a close.
On the mound, Blake Fassler (4-3) battled all night and kept his team in the game before ultimately taking the loss. The junior right-hander ended his involvement by retiring 15 of the last 16 batters he faced, the lone exception being leftfielder Remington Miller’s second home run of 2013, a deep shot to right to begin the fifth.
Fassler retired the Coyotes in order four times, in the second, fourth, sixth and seventh. He allowed two runs on three hits and one walk, striking out five before giving way to a quartet of relievers.
A leadoff double down the right field line by Christian Gomez led to the game’s first run for CSUSB in the third. With men at the corners and out, Curtis Cassise grounded out on the infield to enable Gomez to sprint home.
Susdorf finished 2-for-4 at the dish while Seigel was 1-for-4 with the lone RBI in the final home appearance for both.
Kelley (3-2) earned the win for the visitors, giving up both runs, one of them earned, on four hits and three walks. He struck out six. LeVert picked up his fourth save. Cassise was 1-for-3 with two RBI offensively. Gomez scored twice.
The teams finished with just four hits each.
In the top of the first, Liske made a fine running catch toward the gap in right on DH Billy Hamilton. Frazier then came up with a tough play up the middle, the second baseman flipping to shortstop Dillon Moyer for the inning-ending fielder’s choice.
The career contributions of Triton seniors Ryan Goodbrand, Richard Kilbury, Liske, Sam Michaels, Mossholder, Jonah Northrop, Seigel and Susdorf were recognized prior to first pitch.
The series now shifts north to San Bernardino, concluding Saturday with a noon doubleheader at Fiscalini Field.
Triton Notes: UCSD still leads the series since 2001, 36-17 … The Tritons’ five-game home winning streak over the Coyotes was snapped … The Tritons are 10-5 in night games in 2013 … Nick La Face has started 101 straight games … Richard Seigel has started 81 games in a row and made his 99th appearance for UCSD … Scott Liske made his 12th straight start in right field and reached base safely for the 14th game in a row … Troy Cruz made his first return to the batting order since Apr. 9 vs. Point Loma as the DH … Spencer Frazier made his sixth consecutive start at second base … Blake Fassler drew his eighth start on the mound for UCSD … The home run Fassler allowed in the fifth was just his second in 57.2 innings this year.
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