LA JOLLA, Calif. - The 24th-ranked University of California San Diego baseball team blanked Biola University in its exhibition finale, 11-0, Tuesday night at Triton Ballpark. Eight pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout.
UC San Diego scored six times within the first three innings, and added five unearned tallies in the sixth, punctuated by a towering three-run home run just inside the right field foul pole by redshirt sophomore third baseman Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/San Diego Mesa College/La Jolla HS).
Biola, out of La Mirada and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) ranks, had already begun its season last weekend, at a perfect 3-0.
The eight Triton arms, in order, were Jack Rupe, Jr. (H), Kyle Lucke (H, BB, 3 SO), Ted Stuka (2 SO), Brent Bell (2 SO), Blaine Jarvis, Travis Roberts (3 SO), Troy Cruz (2 H, 2 SO) and Tim Nelson (H, SO). Only Lucke went two frames, the second and third. Roberts, a redshirt junior left-hander, struck out the side in the seventh. Stuka, a 6-foot-7 freshman right-hander, set down back-to-back Eagles on strikes ahead of a groundout in a 1-2-3 fourth.
Chula Vista native Cruz (Bonita Vista HS) made his return to the mound after missing a majority of the 2016 season. The fifth-year senior, a 2014 All-American and three-time All-California Collegiate Athletic Association selection, allowed two singles around a lineout to begin the eighth, before a pair of called third strikes.
The group retired 14 straight Biola batters between leadoff singles in the third off of Lucke and the eighth off of Cruz. Bell and Jarvis also turned in perfect frames. Jarvis, a redshirt freshman, induced a trio of groundouts in the sixth in a nice bounceback effort following a tough outing in his exhibition debut exactly two weeks prior.
Offensively, UCSD got things rolling from the get-go in the first. Leadoff man Tim White beat out an infield single deep in the shortstop hole, and then Justin Flatt chopped a single over the first baseman's head to put Tritons at the corners. After a fielder's choice groundout by JD Hearn plated White with the night's initial run, cleanup hitter Jack Larsen roped an RBI double into the right field corner.
UCSD added an unearned score in the second as redshirt senior centerfielder Brandon Shirley came around on an infield throwing error. Steven Schuknecht had clubbed a single to right center ahead of Shirley's perfect bunt single on the inning's first two pitches. Schuknecht's opposite-field RBI double into the gap in left center then chased Larsen and Jesse Moore home, and the redshirt freshman himself scored on a wild pitch, for a 6-0 advantage after three.
The remainder of the scoring all came in the sixth as the home side capitalized on a misplay by the Biola shortstop. White and Christian Leung drove in the first two runs on a squeeze play and first-pitch double down the right field line. Eliopulos then came through with his big fly on a 2-0 offering.
UCSD turned two double plays. Ace shortstop Tyler Howsley helped his starter, Rupe, Jr., in the first, handling the short hop to perfection en route to a 6-4-3 double play that wiped out a leadoff single. Howsley also was behind the second twin killing to end the third after another leadoff single and a swinging strikeout by Lucke
UC San Diego is now set for Opening Day, awaiting the daytime opener of a four-game weekend non-conference series with Concordia University of Portland, Ore., this Friday, Feb. 3. First pitch at Triton Ballpark is slated for 3 p.m.