LA JOLLA, Calif. - In a back-and-forth affair, UC San Diego was ultimately unable to overturn a five-run third inning in falling to No. 25 Cal State East Bay, 10-7, to open a four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball series Thursday night at Triton Ballpark.
With the loss, the Tritons dropped to 15-13 overall and 10-11 in the CCAA. A fourth straight victory improved Cal State East Bay to 23-8 overall and 13-8 in league play.
Coming off back-to-back error-free games for the first time this season, both wins, UCSD was charged with a season-high four errors which led to four unearned runs.
The scoring began with dueling two-out rallies in the opening frame. CSUEB struck first as second baseman Eren Miravalles singled up the middle and Brandon Alexander doubled him home after two were gone.
UCSD answered straight away. Richard Seigel drew a two-out walk, and just one pitch after he stole second, Nick La Face lifted a 3-2 offering toward the gap in left center for a game-tying RBI double. On the very next pitch, DH Justin Rahn hammered a ball through the East Bay first baseman and into the right field corner for another RBI double and a 2-1 Triton edge.
The big Pioneer inning came next in the third as nine men took their turns at the plate. Consecutive singles began the sequence before an outfield error loaded the bases for third baseman Kyle Zozaya, who singled to right center to knock in a pair and give CSUEB a lead it would not relinquish, 3-2. An RBI single, RBI double and sacrifice fly made it a 6-2 bulge.
UCSD cut that deficit in half in the fourth as Rahn lofted a high fly ball over the East Bay centerfielder’s head for a one-out triple, and junior shortstop Dillon Moyer knocked a run-scoring double down the left field line on the ensuing pitch. Moyer then swiped third, which proved to be an important theft as third baseman Garrett Tuck expertly fought off a 1-2 offering to the right side for an RBI groundout.
The inning began a segment whereby the Tritons edged closer, only to see the visitors keep holding them at bay with more runs of their own. East Bay took advantage of a failed pickoff attempt to the tune of another sacrifice fly in the fifth.
UCSD then scratched out another two-out rally in the home fifth, with Troy Cruz putting a single up the middle and the left-handed Seigel launching an impressive home run just to the left of the center field wall to pull within a run at 7-6.
Cal State East Bay pushed across a single tally again in the sixth on a 2-2 single up the middle by Zozaya after Miravalles had reached leading off on an infield miscue.
A fifth run of the two-out variety moved the Tritons back within a single score one final time in their half of the sixth. Senior leftfielder James Mossholder singled to left field, and redshirt freshman rightfielder Corbin Wirta then produced an incredible 10-pitch at-bat, fouling off four straight after working the count full before lacing a run-scoring double into the right field corner to send Mossholder sprinting home.
Once more, Cal State East Bay regained its cushion, capping the night’s scoring on a two-out, two-strike, two-run single up the middle by pinch-hitter Naea Kalehuawehe.
UCSD brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth with just one away, but senior right-hander Matt Fontaine got both La Face and Rahn looking to end the game. Fontaine tossed four effective innings to pick up his third save. He struck out six while giving up one run on five hits and a walk.
Triton ace Ryan Goodbrand (6-2) gave up seven runs, four of them earned, on 11 hits over 4.2 innings, walking two and striking out six. It was the first time in his 23 starts at UCSD that he failed to get through five complete frames. Goodbrand struck out the side swinging around a pair of one-out singles in the second. He also gathered a Zac Chuvala bunt and quickly fired to Tuck at third to put out the lead runner after the first two batters had reached in the sixth.
Cal State East Bay’s Ben O’Bryan went 4.2 innings like his starting UCSD counterpart and fellow senior right-hander, allowing six runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out three. Junior left-hander Bryce Vidmar (1-0) picked up the winning decision by getting a called third strike on the only batter he faced to end the fifth.
Offensively, East Bay’s No. 7 and No. 8 batters, senior catcher David Castillo and senior centerfielder Andrew Rodriguez, went a combined 7-for-9 with a walk, four runs scored and two driven in. Miravalles scored three times.
Seigel was 2-for-3 with two walks, the home run, two runs, two RBI and a steal for UCSD. Rahn added three hits. Lefty specialists Chad Rieser and Richard Kilbury each struck out the only batter they faced in the fifth and seventh, respectively.
UCSD and Cal State East Bay continue their four-game series at Triton Ballpark on Friday, Mar. 29, with a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. The Tritons are expected to throw junior right-hander Blake Fassler (4-1, 3.68 ERA) and freshman right-hander Troy Cruz (1-1, 2.04 ERA) in the two games, the latter scheduled for seven innings. They would be the fourth and second starts as Tritons, respectively, for Fassler and Cruz. The Pioneers should counter with junior right-hander Sean Becker (6-1, 1.45 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Michael Pope (7-0, 2.35 ERA), the league leader in wins. Both games will feature an online video stream (click here), with commentary provided by former UCSD pitcher Tim Strombel, free of charge.
Triton Notes: UCSD is 14-7-1 all-time against Cal State East Bay … The Tritons are 6-6 against ranked opponents and 7-3 in night games in 2013 … Nick La Face has started 85 straight games … Richard Seigel has started 65 games in a row, all at first base … Seigel’s first-inning steal was his seventh on the year in nine tries, and his fifth-inning home run was his team-best seventh, now tied for the conference lead with Chico State’s Blake Gibbs … Seigel now has 11 home runs as a Triton … UCSD is 19-4 when Ryan Goodbrand pitches … The 11 hits and seven runs allowed by Goodbrand were both highs for his Triton career … With three more putouts tonight, Danny Susdorf’s defensive streak without an error extended to his last 95 games and 235 chances dating back to April 29, 2011 … Justin Rahn’s first-inning double was his fourth of 2013 and his fourth-inning triple was his second, tying him with Seigel and Susdorf for the team lead … La Face and Dillon Moyer each had their seventh doubles of the season, with Moyer adding his 10th steal on 12 attempts ... Corbin Wirta's RBi double in the sixth was his third ... UCSD allowed 16 hits on the night, matching the high for an opponent this season after Cal Poly Pomona had managed that total, also in La Jolla, in a 10-8 Triton loss on Mar. 1 … UCSD gave up a double-digit run total for the third time, all three of them resulting in defeats.