LA JOLLA, Calif. - The UC San Diego baseball team used a come-from-behind, walk-off victory in game one to propel it to the sweep of a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) doubleheader over No. 25 Cal State East Bay Friday at Triton Ballpark.
The Tritons rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the opener, scoring once in the eighth and twice more in the ninth for its second walk-off triumph of the 2013 season, 3-2. Freshman right-hander Troy Cruz took the reigns in the seven-inning nightcap and produced the first complete game by a UCSD pitcher this year with a four-hit shutout, 3-0.
With the two results, the Tritons improved to 17-13 overall and 12-11 in the CCAA. Cal State East Bay had its four-game win streak snapped, falling to 23-10 overall and 13-10 in league play. UCSD maintains a two-games-to-one series edge after the visiting Pioneers took Thursday night’s opener, 10-7.
UCSD will go for its second straight CCAA series success in Saturday’s finale with Cal State East Bay, set for an 11 a.m. first pitch at Triton Ballpark. Sophomore left-hander Trevor Scott (1-3, 8.44 ERA) is expected to start for UCSD against junior right-hander Nick Hudson (1-1, 2.67 ERA) for East Bay. Live video and live stats are both available, free of charge.
With his team down 2-1, Nick La Face began the ninth-inning heroics by fighting off an 0-2 count and taking four straight balls for a leadoff walk from East Bay closer Charlie Sharrer. Justin Rahn then slid a single through the right side to send pinch-runner Scott Liske, over to third as the tying run.
A fourth Triton junior, shortstop Dillon Moyer, then smoked a 3-2 offering for an opposite-field RBI double to the gap in right center, leveling the score at 2-2 and pushing the winning third a mere 90 feet away, still with nobody out.
The Pioneers brought left-hander Bryce Vidmar on to issue an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Jonah Northrop, loading the bases for Ho-Kyun Choi. The sophomore catcher, who had just entered the fray defensively to start the ninth, calmly lifted a 3-1 pitch to center for a sacrifice fly that drove in Rahn with the winning tally.
The game was a full-on pitchers’ duel throughout much of the early going between junior right-handers Blake Fassler for UCSD and Sean Becker for CSUEB. Both hurlers faced the minimum nine batters in the second, third and fourth frames. Fassler retired 11 straight from a one-out double in the first through the fourth. In retiring the Pioneers in order three successive times, he needed just seven pitches in the third. None of the 11 made it out of the infield, with seven groundouts, two popouts and two strikeouts. One of those groundouts needed a tough back-handed play down the line and strong throw by third baseman Garrett Tuck in the fourth.
The Diablo Valley College transfer’s run ended as Kyle Zozaya reached on an error by Moyer to lead off the two-run East Bay fifth, a miscue Moyer would make up for.
Becker, meanwhile, cruised through seven scoreless. He hit Richard Seigel to open the home fourth, but cleaned that up with an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
In that visitor fourth, after Zozaya had reached via error, a Bryson Nakamura single and David Castillo bunt put two Pioneers in scoring position. Andrew Rodriguez then came up with the clutch single up the middle to pick both of his teammates up. Rodriguez moved to third with two away, and tried to capitalize on a Fassler ball in the dirt by taking home, but was out as catcher Brett Levy gathered and threw to his pitcher covering the plate.
Seigel’s long, high bid to put the Tritons on the board in the sixth ended up in rightfielder Brandon Alexander’s glove on the warning track.
UCSD finally scratched across its first run of the afternoon in the eighth as senior All-American Danny Susdorf pushed a two-out double into the left field corner and scored as Cruz reached on a throwing error by the Pioneer second baseman.
Fassler tossed a season-high 7.0 innings in his fourth starting assignment. He allowed two runs, only one of them earned, on four hits and one walk, striking out five. The walk in his final frame snapped a personal string of 21.1 innings pitched without issuing a base on balls.
Richard Kilbury, Scott Zeman and Chad Rieser each registered an out in a scoreless eighth as Rieser, like Kilbury a left-handed specialist, struck out the only batter he faced to end a frame and leave a runner at third for the second game in a row.
Dan Kolodin (2-1) got around a leadoff four-pitch walk to complete a clean ninth and pick up the winning decision. He was aided by a twin killing as he struck out Nakamura swinging, and Choi fired to Cruz to catch Zozaya stealing.
Cruz and Moyer had two hits apiece, with both of Moyer’s being doubles in his final two at-bats. He now has nine on the year.
Becker, like Fassler, in the end had no decision to show for his effort, giving up just an unearned run in 7.2 innings on four hits and one walk. He struck out one. Sharrer (0-3) was pinned with the loss. Andrew Rodriguez was 1-for-3 with the two RBI.
In just his second collegiate pitching start, Cruz (2-1), a local product out of Chula Vista and Bonita Vista High School, needed only 89 pitches and 87 minutes to dispatch East Bay. He scattered four singles and a walk, while striking out one. Cruz has now gone 12.0 scoreless innings over his first two mound starts, both seven-inning shutout wins for his side to complete doubleheader sweeps.
Cruz also benefitted from a pair of clutch double plays turned defensively by his teammates behind him. The first involved a diving stop behind the second-base bag by Moyer, who then scooped with his glove from his back to Andrew Hobson, the freshman second baseman making no mistake with his turn and throw to Seigel to double up Eren Miravalles and end the first after Cruz had issued a one-out walk.
In the third, Zac Chuvala lined out to Tuck at third, with Rodriguez getting cut down having strayed too far off of first after a leadoff single. Cruz breezed through an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth.
Offensively, Susdorf followed a first-pitch single to left center by Corbin Wirta in the third with an RBI triple into the right field corner. Hobson then looked the veteran in picking up his senior centerfielder with a first-pitch sacrifice fly and 2-0 lead.
It was Hobson again with an impressive at-bat in the fifth for insurance as the Dublin native went down to push a 1-2 pitch into center to knock in James Mossholder, who had singled to lead off and been sacrificed by Wirta to second.
Mossholder was 2-for-3 with a run scored in the game. Hobson was 1-for-2 with the first multi-RBI game of his college career.
East Bay sophomore right-hander Michael Pope (7-1), who began the day as the only seven-game winner in the entire conference, also finished with a complete game, allowing all three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five.
Triton Notes: UCSD is now 16-7-1 all-time against Cal State East Bay … The Tritons are 8-6 against ranked opponents in 2013 … Nick La Face has started 87 straight games … Richard Seigel has started 67 games in a row, all at first base … With one more putout today, in game two, Danny Susdorf’s defensive streak without an error extended to his last 97 games and 236 chances dating back to April 29, 2011 … Susdorf’s eighth-inning double in game one was his team-leading 13th of the year and 54th of his career, fifth-most all-time in program history … Susdorf’s third-inning triple in the nightcap was his team-leading third of 2013, extending his school-record career total now to 17 … Corbin Wirta’s game-two sacrifice was his team-best ninth, again tying him for the conference lead … Ho-Kyun Choi’s game-winning RBI in the opener was his first since Feb. 25, 2012, when a two-run home run at Triton Ballpark against Cal Poly Pomona served as his first collegiate hit … UCSD caught all three CSUEB runners trying to steal in game one, a season high … Troy Cruz’s performance marked the first individual shutout by a Triton pitcher since Daniel Simmons blanked Colorado Mesa (then Mesa State) over seven innings at home on Feb. 12, 2011 … Nick La Face’s game-two double was his eighth … After notching his first hit of 2013 at Cal State L.A. on Mar. 14, James Mossholder is now 8-for-17 (.471) in the six games since.
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