LA JOLLA, Calif. - Four pitchers combined on a two-hit shutout as UC San Diego blanked San Diego Christian College, 4-0, in exhibition baseball Friday night at Triton Ballpark.
It was the first of three exhibition contests for UCSD, rated No. 39 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s preseason NCAA Division II rankings, ahead of its 2014 opener. SDCC, based in El Cajon, appears in the NAIA poll for the first time in program history, at No. 22.
Third-year Triton head coach Eric Newman had five newcomers in his starting lineup and used six on the night, though all four pitchers to see action were returning players.
Junior right-hander Dan Kolodin started and tossed three no-hit innings while striking out five. Sophomore right-hander Adrian Orozco, junior left-hander Trevor Scott and senior right-hander Blake Fassler then each went two frames with two strikeouts apiece. Fassler retired all six batters he faced and even snatched a liner off the bat of pinch-hitter Luke Bando for the final out.
San Diego Christian did not register its first hit until Cade Gotta’s single to center field off of Scott with one out in the sixth.
UCSD took advantage of four errors by the Hawks, including three in a two-run fourth, and one passed ball to the tune of two unearned scores.
Left-fielder Justin Rahn was 2-for-4 with a run scored for the Tritons. Fellow senior Spencer Frazier slapped a 3-2 pitch into the right-field corner for a one-out triple in the seventh, although he was ultimately stranded there as UCSD left 10 runners.
Troy Cruz, a dual threat as a pitcher and a second baseman or designated hitter as a freshman in 2013, started a 5-4-3 double play to get fellow Chula Vista product Orozco out of the fourth in his first appearance at third base.
The Tritons got on the board in the third inning on freshman centerfielder Jack Larsen’s RBI groundout. Freshman rightfielder Christian Leung registered an RBI in the two-run fourth, reaching on an infield error, with senior infielder Garrett Tuck following Rahn home on a second SDCC miscue on the same play. Redshirt freshman pinch-runner Brandon Shirley tallied UCSD’s fourth on a passed ball in the eighth.
“Our pitching and defense performed really well,” said Newman. “Our pitchers attacked hitters with good pace. They controlled the game and kept our tempo. Our hitters showed good discipline at the plate. We obviously need to cut down on some of those strikeouts (eight) with runners in scoring position.
“All in all, I thought it was a good night for us. We got to see some freshmen out there and some guys who haven’t played in a Triton uniform. It was good to get them out there and get them used to the environment and what it’s like. San Diego Christian is a good team. They were one game away from going to the NAIA World Series last year, so for us to come out and play like we did, shows that there could be some good things for us in the future. We have to keep learning and growing, though.”
UCSD hosts another local foe in exhibition action this Tuesday night, Jan. 21, when Cal State San Marcos pays Triton Ballpark a visit for a 6 p.m. first pitch. The Cougars are rated 16th in the NAIA preseason poll.