The University of California San Diego baseball program contests three exhibition games over the next 10 days to get ready for its 2017 opener. All three are home dates at Triton Ballpark in La Jolla, against members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and its Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC). The Tritons will first host Hope International University of Fullerton this Tuesday night, Jan. 17, at 6 p.m. Next is Biola University of La Mirada on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 21, at 2 p.m. Local foe San Diego Christian College rounds out the exhibition slate back in primetime on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m. Admission on East Campus is free, though parking permits are required on the UCSD campus for the two weeknight games. Live stats will be available. There will be no live video coverage until the regular season begins.
Of the four national polls in existence for NCAA Division II baseball, the preseason edition of just one of them has been released, with sixth-year head coach Eric Newman's Tritons rated No. 24 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), Perfect Game and D2BaseballNews.com have yet to unveil their prognostications. The D2BaseballNews.com and PG listings are expected on Friday, Jan. 20, and Thursday, Jan. 26, respectively.
Hope International went 21-28-1 overall in 2016, and 11-19 in GSAC play. Erich Pfohl is the second-year head coach. Biola concluded 2016 at 31-27 overall and an even 15-15 in the league. The Eagles saw their campaign ended in the GSAC Tournament final in Santa Barbara. They are coached by Jay Sullenger, heading into his fourth year. The Hawks, based in Santee, were 27-18 overall and also an even 15-15 in the GSAC. Brian Schroeder is beginning his first year in charge. UCSD and SDCC met in preseason action in both 2016, twice (8-6 and 10-1), and 2014 (4-0), with the Tritons winning all three of those matchups in La Jolla.
UC San Diego finished 31-21 overall and 20-17 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) in 2016, placing second in the South Division and qualifying for a third successive CCAA Championship. Eight position starters and three starting pitchers return off of that squad. Included in that group are five standouts who earned postseason recognition from the CCAA in fourth-year Tritons Steven Coe (Valley Center/Valley Center HS), Tyler Howsley and Jack Larsen, alongside sophomore right-handed pitchers Kyle Mora and Tim Nelson. Larsen was a repeat selection to the All-CCAA First Team, and picked up NCBWA All-West Region honorable mention. UCSD also has 2014 All-American and three-time All-CCAA honoree Troy Cruz (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista HS) back for a fifth year after injury enabled the two-way star to appear in just three games in 2016 before getting shut down.
Following the three exhibitions, the Triton Baseball Alumni Game is scheduled under Friday night lights at 6 p.m. on Jan. 27. The program's golf tournament fundraiser is the next day, with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. in Coronado. More information and registration can be accessed here.
The Tritons then host Concordia University of Portland, Ore., for a four-game non-conference series to kicks thing off for the new campaign. Opening Day is Friday, Feb. 3, with first pitch for a single game at Triton Ballpark slated for 3 p.m. A doubleheader will follow on Saturday at 1 p.m., with a 12 p.m. finale on Super Bowl Sunday.