LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 12 University of California San Diego baseball team surrendered six in the second inning of game one and two on a seventh-inning home run in the nightcap to get swept by Cal State LA in a doubleheader Saturday at Triton Ballpark. Game scores were 9-4 for starters and 2-1 in the seven-inning affair.
Cal State LA thus won the four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) series, three games to one, the teams having split their two meetings in Carson on Thursday and Friday night. It is just the second series loss all year for UC San Diego, now at 10-2-1 in sets in 2017. The Tritons fall to 29-14 overall and 21-12 in CCAA play, now second in the CCAA South behind Cal Poly Pomona. The Broncos swept their doubleheader Saturday at Sonoma State, and now hold a 1.5-game advantage at the top. Cal State LA improves to 23-21 overall and 16-18 in league play. The Golden Eagles clinched their own spot at the CCAA Championship, with the three South entrants now determined in CPP, UCSD and CSULA. That double-elimination event returns to neutral-site Stockton, May 10-13.
Sophomore first baseman Tyler Durna had his 28-game hit streak snapped in the second game Saturday, finishing 0-for-3. After CSULA's two-run shot in the top of the seventh necessitated a home half, a leadoff single by pinch-hitter Justin Flatt assured Durna of another shot at extending it. A Jack Larsen sacrifice and JD Hearn flyout, however, activated the Golden Eagles' option to grant Durna the open base, so with a right-hander on the mound, they indeed intentionally walked him. Gabriel Gentner then got the right-handed Jesse Moore swinging for his eighth save of the year and second of the series.
Durna had waited until late to extend his streak in the first game, starting 0-for-3 in that contest as well. He then fell behind 0-2 to lead off the eighth, before lacing a single into center field. The 28-gamer is a record for UCSD's Division II era, since 2001, and likely all-time. It is also unofficially tied for the third longest in CCAA history. The intentional walk did, at least, mean that the Chino Hills product has reached base safely in 34 consecutive contests.
Junior first baseman Jorge Garcia, out of El Cajon and Grossmont College, punished the Tritons to the tune of three long balls on the day to double his season total. The first two totaled three RBI in the opener, before he accounted for the decisive shot in game two after a leadoff infield error enabled Sean Watkins to reach base.
UC San Diego concludes the regular season in the week ahead with another four-game series, against Cal State San Bernardino. The teams will have single dates at Fiscalini Field in San Bernardino on Thursday, May 4, and Friday, May 5, both at 3 p.m. The set then wraps up at Triton Ballpark in La Jolla on Senior Day on Saturday, May 6. Ten Triton seniors will be honored in between games of the twin ball.
Game One: CSULA 9, UCSD 4 In the second, the Golden Eagles sent 10 men to the plate and scored their six runs on three hits and an uncharacteristic four walks by sophomore left-handed Triton starter Preston Mott (6-3), who did not survive the inning. The big blows were a two-run home run after a leadoff walk by Garcia, and a bases-clearing double to left by starting pitcher Christian Broussard, Jr., on a 3-1 offering with two gone.
Though UCSD outscored CSULA 4-3 from there, the deficit proved too great. The Tritons got two runs right back on clutch two-out, opposite-field RBI hits on successive pitches from Keenan Brigman and Michael Palos toward the bottom of their order in the home second. Brandon Shirley sent a one-out double just inside the third base line, and following a called third strikeout, Brigman sent the first pitch he saw on the day into the gap in right center for his third triple, with Palos then chasing him home by dropping a single into right.
The Golden Eagles increased their lead to six again with single tallies in the third and fourth, and added a ninth in the seventh. Around that last score, UCSD got one in the fourth on a bases-loaded double-play ball, having started the frame with three straight singles, and a final run in the eighth on Chad Crosbie's RBI double.
Shirley, a fifth-year senior centerfielder, was a notable highlight for the home side, as he produced not one, not two, but three spectacular diving catches. He galloped to his left and into the gap in right center before going horizontal to rob Drew Seelman of a run-scoring extra-base hit with a man at third to end the third. He did the same to lead off the eighth, to the same tough-luck Seelman. In the fifth, he sprinted and dove forward to snatch a hard liner by Isaac Dominguez for the second out.
Offensively, Shirley was 2-for-3 with his eighth double, a walk, team-best 14th steal in 17 tries, and two runs scored. The first eight Tritons in the order had at least one hit. Crosbie and Jack Larsen both posted a pair, including a double each.
In relief of Mott, Jack Rupe, Jr., battled for 3.2 innings to keep UCSD in the vicinity. Erik Amundson set down Broussard swinging and Sean Watkins on a flyout in the heart of the CSULA order with a man on to end the sixth. Tim Nelson gave up just the second Garcia home run in his two frames, and Cameron Kurz struck out Broussard and Watkins to begin a scoreless ninth.
Game Two: CSULA 2, UCSD 1 (7)
The Tritons finally broke a scoreless deadlock in the fifth, loading the bases on a one-out Tim White single up the middle and back-to-back walks to J.T. Williams and Larsen ahead of Hearn's sacrifice fly to deep center that troubled Seelman. That was all they would get as the new CSULA pitcher got Durna to pop out.
Three outs from a doubleheader and series split, Jonah Dipoto was victimized by Garcia two frames later. To his credit, he helped keep it a one-run game after CSULA advanced runners to second and third, still with no outs. Dipoto got a groundout, and then struck out Seelman looking. Travis Roberts hit his only batter, Nathan Navarrete, to load the bases for Amundson, who got Angel Sanchez looking.
Still, that seventh wasted a great effort by redshirt junior right-handed starter Kyle Goodbrand, who twirled 5.2 frames of shutout baseball, allowing just four hits without a walk. He struck out two, and put together three perfect frames in the first, third and fifth. Blaine Jarvis retired his only batter, Broussard, to end the sixth.
Crosbie had two more hits for the Tritons, who managed just six.
Triton Notes: Tyler Howsley extended his consecutive games played streak to 152 dating back to the 2015 opener ... Jack Larsen has appeared in 107 straight games, all of them starts ... JD Hearn has appeared in 74 games in a row, all of them starts ... Hearn, Howsley and Larsen are the only Tritons to appear in all 43 games this season ... Larsen was in the leadoff spot for the sixth and seventh times in his career, all coming this month ... True freshman Chad Crosbie earned his fifth and sixth starts in the Triton outfield ... Game One: Tyler Durna extended his team-best streaks to 33 straight games reaching base and 28 with a hit ... The hit streak is a record for the program's NCAA Division II era (since 2001) ... Durna extended the hit streak with a single in his fourth at-bat (second-to-last) to lead off the eighth ... Larsen himself extended his streaks to a career-best 12 games with a hit, and 24 reaching base ... Preston Mott made his team-best 13th start of 2017 and 27th of his career ... Game Two: Durna's hit streak was snapped at 28, but his reached-base streak moved to 34 by virtue of the seventh-inning intentional walk ... Larsen's career-best hit streak was also ended at 12, though his reached-base streak advanced to 25 through a fifth-inning walk ... Kyle Goodbrand made his sixth start as a Triton.