The 24th-ranked UC San Diego baseball program begins the 38-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) slate this week. The Tritons (8-2, 0-0 CCAA) take on crosstown foe Cal State San Marcos (10-2, 0-0 CCAA) in a split-venue, four-game series. It starts with back-to-back games at Triton Ballpark in La Jolla in primetime on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m., and Friday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. Thursday has the potential to pit two of the only three pitchers in the CCAA who are 3-0 through the first three weeks of the season, in sophomore left-hander Preston Mott (3-0, 0.50 ERA) for UCSD and senior right-hander Taylor Ahearn (3-0, 1.13 ERA) for CSUSM. The series then shifts to San Marcos and CSUSM Baseball Field on Saturday, Feb. 25, for a doubleheader at 11 a.m. The nightcap is a shortened seven innings. The Cougars (.342) and Tritons (.323) are 1-2 in the CCAA in batting average. UCSD is 7-1 at home and 1-1 on the road in 2017.
ADMISSION POLICIES FOR TRITON BALLPARK
General admission tickets to all regular-season home games at Triton Ballpark are $5. UCSD students are admitted FREE with valid identification. Dogs and other pets are not allowed, nor are coolers. UCSD Concessions is on site for all home contests.
Parking on the UCSD campus is free on weekends, but a permit is required for weekday contests. They can be purchased at the machine near the entrance to the Triton Ballpark parking lot. Please be aware of the danger of foul balls to your vehicle when parking. Overflow parking is available in the lots beyond the right field wall, still along Voigt Drive.
UCSD home games at Triton Ballpark feature live online video at our streaming portal, UCSDtritons.tv. Audio commentary will be provided by former Triton pitcher (2007-08) Tim Strombel (@Timmy2Sides) in his farewell broadcast Thursday prior to moving out of state, with Miles Himmel (@mileshimmel) making his subsequent Triton Baseball debut on Friday. Some road contests also have video, including Saturday in San Marcos with Seth Smith (@Cougar_Voice) on the call. All games have live stats. Fans can access live coverage from the Schedule/Results page, or by clicking on the links above. Starting lineups, live between-inning updates and other in-game news and notes can be found by following Triton Baseball all season long on the UCSD Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons). Also be sure to follow the team @UCSDbsb. Finally, check out the CCAA live scoreboard here to keep up on results around the league.
TRITON BASEBALL ON UCSDTRITONS.TV
UCSD Athletics and local technology giant ViaSat bring you Triton Baseball on UCSDtritons.tv, an online streaming platform. All broadcasts are in high definition, and can be viewed from smartphones and tablets. Viewing is subscription-based, though it is free from UCSD campus IP addresses. A package that gives viewers access to all streamed events through the 2016-17 academic year is available for $34.99. A single-day option can be purchased for $5.99, meaning doubleheaders are two-for-one. The channel also carries all Triton home basketball and volleyball contests, a majority of soccer, softball and water polo games, and a variety of other home events featuring virtually every one of UCSD's 23 intercollegiate sports at least once. Events are archived.
Triton Ballpark on East Campus at UCSD was given a brand-new look outside the foul lines in 2015. Some of the main features of the extensive renovation included a permanent grandstand to seat just over 500, a press box, new sunken dugouts, an area for food trucks, and restrooms, among several other amenities. Read details here. Perhaps most significant is the Marye Anne Fox Clubhouse down the right field line, which was introduced to the players on March 17, 2015. The official Triton Ballpark re-opening and clubhouse dedication took place on April 10, 2015. View photo galleries from the ballpark construction, Opening Day and dedication.
UCSD was at No. 24 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper NCAA Division II preseason top 40 (Dec. 21). The first in-season edition is not until Monday, Feb. 27. The Tritons did not appear in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and Perfect Game preseason listings, but are No. 13 as of the first NCBWA poll. They were No. 24 in the D2 Baseball News preseason ranking, and are up to No. 14 as of Feb. 21. Regionally speaking, UCSD is listed No. 2 in the West by both D2 Baseball News and the NCBWA.
|Tritons in the Polls|
|Collegiate Baseball Newspaper||No. 24||Dec. 21||Poll||N/A|
|D2 Baseball News||No. 14||Feb. 21||Poll||No. 2|
|NCBWA||No. 13||Feb. 22||Poll||No. 2|
|Perfect Game||N/A||Feb. 23||Poll||N/A|
LAST TIME OUT
UCSD swept a doubleheader over Western Oregon at home last Thursday, Feb. 16, by final scores of 5-0 and 9-3. Preston Mott scattered two hits over six innings in combining with Travis Roberts and Jonah Dipoto on a five-hit shutout in game one. Christian Leung hit a two-run home run and drove in three. JD Hearn and Tyler Durna each launched solo blasts for their first home runs as Tritons. Durna finished 3-for-3 with four RBI.
LARSEN BY THE NUMBERS
Jack Larsen has appeared in 74 consecutive games, all of them starts in either right or center field. He is just 12 hits shy of 200 for his four-year Triton career. Larsen's first home run of 2017, the 13th of his college days, was a three-run shot at Concordia Irvine on Feb. 11, pushing him over the 100 RBI mark. He now has 104. Larsen successfully stole second base on his first attempt of 2017 on Feb. 12, to make him a perfect 21-for-21 in steals as a Triton, prior to finally getting caught for the first time in the fourth inning of a doubleheader nightcap against Western Oregon on Feb. 16.
UCSD's starters' ERA over the opening weekend was a miniscule 0.47, as, in order, Preston Mott, Kyle Mora, Jack Rupe, Jr., and Adrian Orozco combined to allow a solitary earned run over their 19.0 innings pitched. Now through 10 games, the Triton starters' ERA stands at 1.39, with eight earned runs over 51.2 innings and a 5-0 record. All 10 starts have gone a minimum of 4.0 frames.
MOTT EMBRACING FRIDAY NIGHT ROLE
Sophomore left-hander Preston Mott has parlayed his first career Opening Day start into a strong introduction as the Triton ace. He is 3-0 through three outings and has thus already eclipsed his win total from his rookie campaign, when he went 2-3 with a 4.08 ERA over a team-best 14 starts. The Clovis product has a 0.50 ERA over 18.0 innings, with eight strikeouts against three walks. Opponents are hitting just .119.
LEUNG HAVING A PARTY
Fourth-year senior outfielder Christian Leung is second in the CCAA with his four home runs (tied) and 13 RBI over the first three weeks. The home run total already eclipses his single-season high as a Triton, which was two from a year ago. His performance in a 14-2 home romp over Concordia (OR) in his 2017 debut on Feb. 4 marked his first career game with multiple home runs. Leung drove in a career-best five runs in that one.
HOME SWEET HOME
UCSD is 7-1 in La Jolla in 2017. The Tritons reached 20 home wins for the second time under sixth-year head coach Eric Newman a season ago. The Tritons were 22-9 in La Jolla in 2016 and are 102-48 (.680) at Triton Ballpark under Newman.
Fifth-year senior Troy Cruz made his official return to the diamond in the Feb. 5 series finale with Concordia (OR). The 2014 All-American and three-time All-CCAA pick out of Chula Vista, who was limited to just three appearances in 2016 before being shut down due to injury, flamed through the top of the ninth inning, striking out the side before earning the winning decision as UCSD rallied with three runs in the home half. Cruz threw just 12 pitches, nine of them for strikes. He picked up another winning decision in his second relief outing at Concordia Irvine on Feb. 11.
THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
UCSD is a perfect 8-0 in 2017 in games in which it scores three or more runs, after finishing the 2016 season at 30-6 in such contests. The Tritons won their first 16 games a year ago when tallying at least three scores. Conversely, they are 0-2 in 2017 when managing fewer than three runs. UCSD was 1-15 with two runs or less last season.
IRON MAN TY
Fourth-year senior Tyler Howsley has appeared in 119 consecutive games for UC San Diego, dating back to Opening Day in 2015. He had started 111 straight contests, all at shortstop, before coming off of the bench in the doubleheader nightcap with Concordia (OR) on Feb. 4.
UCSD has one walk-off victory in 2017, courtesy of redshirt senior Brandon Shirley's two-out, two-run double to plate Chad Crosbie and Steven Coe on Feb. 5. It was Shirley's first career walk-off hit. Coe now has been involved in five, as the winning run in three, and the deciding hit in two.
• Feb. 5: UCSD 9, CU 8 (Watch)
Shirley walked off Concordia (OR) to clinch the season-opening series, his two-out, two-run double finding the base of the wall in left center and chasing freshman pinch-runner Crosbie home ahead of Coe from first for the winner. Coe's RBI single had moved the Tritons back within a run.
Redshirt junior catcher Steven Coe leads the CCAA in batting average (.522) and on-base percentage (.593), and has thrown out four of eight would-be base-stealers ... UCSD's 10-run fifth against Concordia (OR) on Feb. 4 was its largest since an 11-run ninth in a 17-3 win at SF State on April 18, 2014 ... Concordia's (OR) six-run seventh on Feb. 5 has been the biggest frame against UCSD this year ... The Tritons' five errors on Feb. 5 were there most since being charged with 11 in a 21-10 loss at Cal State East Bay on March 1, 2015 ... Nine players have made their college and/or Triton debuts so far in 2017, all over the opening weekend, in Keenan Brigman, Chad Crosbie, Alex Eliopulos, Kyle Goodbrand, Blaine Jarvis, Nick Kitzmann, Jesse Moore, Steven Schuknecht and Ted Stuka ... UCSD is 5-1 in season openers under Eric Newman and 14-3 since moving to Division II in 2001 ... UCSD is 4-1 in CCAA openers with Newman in charge, with four straight wins after a 4-1 loss to Chico State in La Jolla on Feb. 17, 2012 ... The Tritons are 9-7 in CCAA openers all-time (since 2001), and 9-1 with six splits in sets to begin the league season ... UCSD was picked to place third overall and second in the South in the 2017 CCAA race by the league's head coaches, as announced on Jan. 27, with defending CCAA tournament champion Chico State the favorite for the fifth time in six years.
LARSEN NAMED CCAA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Jack Larsen on Feb. 14 was named UCSD's first CCAA Player of the Week for 2017, earning the distinction for the fourth time in his career. He hit .429 (6-for-14) with six runs and five RBI in a 3-1 series victory over Concordia. Larsen launched his first home run of the year, a three-run shot, in a 7-6 win on Feb. 11, and reached base safely in all five plate appearances in a 5-4 decision the next day.
UCSD placed second in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) in 2016 behind now-two-time reigning West Region champion Cal Poly Pomona (26-11) with a league record of 20-17, qualifying for a third consecutive CCAA Championship. The fourth-seeded Tritons had a 31-21 overall record following a 1-2 showing in Stockton.
UCSD's 40-player 2017 roster features 21 letterwinners, five returning redshirts and 14 newcomers. The Tritons return all but two primary position player starters and all but one starter on the mound. Among those back are fourth-year starters Jack Larsen in the outfield and Tyler Howsley at shortstop. Larsen is a two-time All-CCAA First Team selection who added NCBWA All-West Region honorable mention as a junior, while Howsley has a pair of All-CCAA honorable mentions. Joining them are the likes of senior infielder JD Hearn, veteran outfielders Brandon Shirley and Christian Leung, catcher Steven Coe, Justin Flatt, Tyler Durna and Tim White.
In his sixth season in charge, Eric Newman welcomes back a large bulk of a pitching staff that saw 35 of 52 starts made by true freshmen in 2016. All are in the stable with a full year of college baseball under their belts, that group being made up of Brent Bell, Jonah Dipoto, Kyle Lucke, Kyle Mora and Preston Mott. Bullpen options are Jack Rupe, Jr., Erik Amundson, Cameron Kurz and Tim Nelson.
UCSD will be bolstered by the fifth-year return of Troy Cruz, a 2014 All-American and three-time All-CCAA selection in a dual role as a pitcher and hitter who was only able to make three appearances in 2016 before being shut down due to injury.
There is plenty of excitement for a group of transfers which includes Keenan Brigman (Pacific), Alex Eliopulos (San Diego Mesa College), Kyle Goodbrand (Irvine Valley College), Jesse Moore (Edmonds CC), Adrian Orozco (San Diego State) and J.T. Williams (Mt. Hood CC). Orozco is a former two-year Triton reliever (2013-14) who spent the past two seasons at Southwestern College and SDSU.
UCSD's 2017 schedule consists of 50 regular-season games, including 29 at home within the friendly confines of Triton Ballpark. After contesting 10 of 12 non-conference dates in La Jolla, the Tritons start league play with a split-venue, four-game set against crosstown rival Cal State San Marcos in La Jolla on Friday night, Feb. 24. UCSD hosts defending CCAA tournament champion and league favorite Chico State in a three-gamer, April 8-9. The Tritons then face two-time reigning region champion and CCAA South favorite Cal Poly Pomona in another split-venue, four-game series, April 13-15. The CCAA Championship will be held in the neutral-site city of Stockton for the fifth year in a row, returning to Banner Island Ballpark of the minor-league Stockton Ports, May 10-13. UCSD has earned three successive trips.
YOUNG PITCHING FROM 2016 BACK WITH EXPERIENCE
In 2016, 35 of 52 games for UCSD were started on the mound by true freshmen, including all three games of the CCAA Championship. Despite that, the Triton pitching staff compiled an earned-run average of 3.91, good enough for second in the CCAA and 30th nationally in Division II. UCSD has thus placed among the top three in the CCAA in ERA in four of the past five years. All of those arms return, in the form of Brent Bell, Jonah Dipoto, Kyle Lucke, Kyle Mora and Preston Mott.
UCSD continues a tradition of being strong defensively. The Tritons posted a .970 fielding percentage for the second straight year in 2016, leading the CCAA and ranking 20th in Division II. They were second in the CCAA, behind only Cal Poly Pomona (.971), and 21st in Division II, in 2015. UCSD has been in the top 30 nationally and top three in the conference in fielding for each of the past seven seasons. The Tritons were also second in the CCAA (behind Chico State) in 2014 with a .974 clip, and fifth in the country. In 2013, they were second in the league behind Chico State and 11th nationally (.972). They were 29th in Division II in 2012 (.966) and third in the conference. UCSD led the nation with a Division II- and school-record mark of .984 (1611-673-38) in 2010 and was fifth in 2011 (.972), pacing the CCAA both years. No program in the country has even fielded at a .980 rate since 2010.
The CCAA baseball landscape remains largely the same for 2017, with two geographically-balanced, six-team divisions. The top three squads in the final standings of each division will again make up the CCAA Championship field. Second-year member Cal State San Marcos, UCSD's crosstown foe and South opponent, is still ineligible for postseason play. The CCAA maintains a 38-game league slate, made up of a four-game series within divisions, and three-gamers across divisions. The automatic qualifier into the NCAA Championship is still the winner of the CCAA tournament, which remains a six-team, double-elimination event over four days. New this year, however, is that the top seed in that tourney will be crowned regular-season champion.
UCSD returns five all-conference performers from 2016 in fourth-year standouts Jack Larsen (first team for second straight year), Tyler Howsley (honorable mention for second straight year) and Steven Coe (honorable mention), and sophomore right-handers Kyle Mora (second team) and Tim Nelson (honorable mention) ... Larsen also picked up NCBWA All-West Region honorable mention in 2016 ... Howsley and Larsen played together at Mission Viejo's Capistrano Valley High School, as did Nelson and Durna at Ruben S. Ayala High School in Chino Hills ... All but four players on the 40-man 2017 roster, redshirt junior Tim White (Stratford, CT), redshirt freshman Nick Balley (Austin, TX) and newcomers Jesse Moore (Port Orchard, WA) and J.T. Williams (Eagle, ID), are California natives ... There are seven San Diego products in Steven Coe (Valley Center/Valley Center HS), Troy Cruz (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista HS), Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS), Garrett Henkel (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS), Cameron Kurz (Encinitas/La Costa Canyon HS), Adrian Orozco (Chula Vista/Otay Ranch HS) and Jack Rupe, Jr. (San Marcos/Mission Hills HS) ... Sophomore right-hander Jonah Dipoto is the son of Jerry Dipoto, who pitched eight seasons for three Major League Baseball organizations, and is the general manager of the Seattle Mariners ... Redshirt freshman transfer Keenan Brigman (UOP) is the younger brother of former USD standout and current Seattle Mariners prospect Bryson Brigman, a third-round selection in the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
HEAD COACH ERIC NEWMAN
Eric Newman is in his sixth season as the UCSD head coach. The 2012 CCAA Coach of the Year has a 172-108 record (119-74 CCAA) in charge of the Tritons and 267-180 overall in his eight-plus seasons as a head coach. Newman guided UCSD to the 2012 CCAA regular-season and tournament titles in his first go-around in La Jolla, and a subsequent trip to the NCAA Division II West Regional. His Tritons won a record sixth conference tourney crown in May of 2014 in Stockton, to again nab the CCAA's automatic bid into the NCAA Championship. With UCSD earning the region's top seed, Triton Ballpark played host to the 2014 NCAA West Regional. Newman has led the Tritons to three CCAA banners and three NCAA postseason berths in his five years, including back-to-back appearances in West Region finals (2014-15), as well as five plus-.500 and four 30-win campaigns. He won his 100th CCAA contest at home against Cal State San Bernardino, 9-4, on Feb. 26, 2016. Newman previously went 95-72 in three seasons at the helm of Dallas Baptist University from 2005-07. He was the fifth-round draft choice of the San Diego Padres out of Texas Tech in 1994, pitching professionally for eight years with four different organizations.
Eric Newman added Justin James to his staff as the new pitching coach this off-season. James came over from his alma mater, Point Loma. J.T. Bloodworth returns for a fifth season in the UCSD dugout, now in his third year as the Tritons' recruiting coordinator. Jeff Calhoon and former Triton relief pitcher (2011-12) Tony York are back for their second year. Bloodworth coaches third base and Calhoon is at first base.
ABOUT THE COUGARS
Cal State San Marcos (10-2, 0-0 CCAA) has won its last five, including the sweep of a four-game, split-venue series over a Concordia Irvine side from which the Tritons managed only three of four. The Cougars have produced a remarkable 35 doubles over their first 12 contests, and lead the league in several other offensive categories as well, including average and runs scored. Junior shortstop Tyler Place has laid claim to a league-best 10 of those doubles, and is hitting .486 with seven steals. Matt Guiliano is in his first season at the helm of CSUSM as just the second head coach in program history following the retirement of Dennis Pugh.
UCSD leads the all-time series, 4-3. Last year's series, the first as CCAA foes, came at the very end of the CCAA slate for both teams, and ended in a split. The Tritons won 11-2 in San Marcos before salvaging a doubleheader split at home (0-4, 7-2) on Senior Day. The Cougars then procured an 8-2 home decision. The teams had not met in a regular-season contest since an 8-4 win in La Jolla for the Tritons on March 22, 2010. UCSD previously topped CSUSM, 10-3, also at home, on Feb. 6, 2008. The Cougars' first triumph was on April 3, 2007, in La Jolla, 12-9. The Tritons knocked off the Cougars in preseason exhibitions at Triton Ballpark, 7-3 in 2013 and 19-0 in 2014.
For the latest in Triton athletic gear, make sure to visit ucsdtritonsgear.com. Run by UCSD Athletics' online partner, Advanced-Online, the site provides an on-demand option for Triton athletic apparel and merchandise. Fans have access to over 600 products that can be processed and shipped within 24 hours.
FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
Got some young Triton fans in your family? If they are in eighth grade or under, check out the Junior Triton Club. Membership includes a free t-shirt, admission to over 100 UCSD home athletic events, and much more!
SOCIAL MEDIA (#AllForOne)
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UC San Diego takes the first of three regular-season trips to the Bay Area next weekend, to Hayward, for a three-game series at Cal State East Bay, March 4-5.