STOCKTON, Calif. - Kyle Goodbrand flirted with a no-hitter and got plenty of run support as No. 21 University of California San Diego handled Cal State LA, 16-6, in an elimination game of the 2017 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Baseball Championship on Friday afternoon at neutral-site Banner Island Ballpark.
Third-seeded UC San Diego, the designated home team, improved to 34-16 overall. Sixth-seeded Cal State LA ended its 2017 season at 27-24. It was a form of redemption for the Tritons, who had dropped the regular-season set between the sides, three games to one in late April.
UCSD advances directly into another elimination game, against No. 2 seed Cal Poly Pomona, with an approximate start time of 8:20 p.m. at Banner Island Ballpark. The winner of that game will have to beat top seed Chico State twice on Saturday for the banner.
Goodbrand (4-0), a redshirt junior right-hander out of Mission Viejo and first year Triton transfer out of Irvine Valley College, took a no-hitter into the eighth and went a season-long 7.1 innings. After getting a first-pitch flyout to begin the eighth, a clean single through the middle by pinch-hitter Garrett Dean, followed by an infield throwing error, ended his incredible afternoon. Both of those Golden Eagles came around to score, to indicate a final line of two runs, one of them earned, on one hit and four walks with five strikeouts. Goodbrand issued a five-pitch walk to his very first batter, but his fortunes turned and turned in a big way for the remainder of his outing. His next three throws, incidentally, all resulted in flyouts.
UCSD jumped right on the scoreboard with a three-spot in the first. Jack Larsen opened up by pulling a single through the right side. With one gone and Larsen at second after a failed pickoff throw, Alex Eliopulos lined a hard single directly at rightfielder Sean Watkins, who made an incredible throw on the fly to catcher Tommy Pincin to apply the tag on Larsen for the second out. JD Hearn followed with an RBI single through the left side, and redshirt freshman leftfielder Keenan Brigman clutched up on a two-strike count and lifted an opposite-field two-run double inside the right field line. Watkins almost got Hearn, too, but the senior second baseman was true with his slide and got in there just in time.
Goodbrand then notched the shutdown frame, working around a two-out walk with two groundouts to Eliopulos at third bookending a swinging strikeout. He retired eight straight between walks to Isaac Dominguez in the second and fifth.
The Tritons added one in the second. A leadoff double from their No. 8 batter, redshirt sophomore catcher Michael Palos, like Brigman's to the opposite field down the right field line with the count at 2-2, preceded a right-sided groundout by senior shortstop Tyler Howsley and a wild pitch. The latter action actually generated another play at the plate, as the ball went through Pincin but came right back off the backstop, but Pincin was unable to handle it cleanly before the relay to pitcher Saxon Andross, as Palos beat the tag.
Goodbrand produced his first perfect frame in the third, but not without some considerable help, as Larsen got on his horse and leapt at the wall in right to rob Nathan Navarrete of what looked to be a home run. That was the second of three flyouts in the inning, to left, right and center.
A flash of the leather then took a run off the board for UCSD in the third. Brigman drove one into left center, seemingly bound for another RBI double with Eliopulos at second following a one-out infield single and wild pitch, but Drew Seelman dove and made the incredible grab.
Goodbrand cruised through a second successive 1-2-3 inning in the fourth via foulout and swinging strikeouts to CSULA sluggers Watkins and Jorge Garcia, before true freshman designated hitter Chad Crosbie led off the home half with a bang, launching a double off the bottom of the batter's eye in straightaway center. The bottom of the order continued to plague Andross, Palos going back-to-back doubles with his second two-bagger in as many plate appearances, this time into left center. The ball evaded the charging Seelman and scored Crosbie for a 5-0 cushion. The Tritons then loaded the bases around two flyouts and a pitching change, and Eliopulos ripped a titanic fly ball down the right field line, but it was ruled foul, and caught by Watkins.
Goodbrand walked a pair around a groundout and called third strike in the fifth, before managing to pop Navarrete up to end the threat.
UCSD came right back out and broke things open with a four-run rally, batting around. Hearn took two strikes and drew a walk to lead the charge. Brigman singled through the left side, and Crosbie singled sharply to center. After a flyout too shallow to score a run, Howsley hit an RBI fielder's choice ground ball to short. Not only could Cal State LA not complete the double play, enabling Hearn to score, but the relay from second baseman Angel Sanchez got away from Garcia at first, letting Brigman also come across on the error. Back to the top of the order, Larsen and Shirley hammered consecutive RBI doubles, Larsen's off the batter's eye.
Goodbrand made an easy time of another shutdown frame, getting through the sixth on just eight pitches via flyout, foulout and soft comebacker.
Consecutive walks to Hearn and Brigman began the Triton sixth, and Crosbie went up the middle again, this time on the ground, for an RBI single, 10-0 bulge, and a third pitching change for the Golden Eagles. A fourth straight ball by new man Austin Nazabal, was in fact wild, letting Brigman trot home from third for 11-0. A flyout led into Larsen hammering a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right for three more runs to continue his unconscious late-season surge.
Cal State LA put up successive three-run frames in the eighth and ninth, with UCSD tacking on a pair in its eighth, loading the bases with one away and getting an RBI infield single from senior Tim White and a wild pitch.
Crosbie posted his first collegiate three-hit game, winding up 3-for-4 with a walk, double, two runs and an RBI. Larsen was 3-for-4 with a walk, double, home run, two runs and four RBI. Eliopulos went 3-for-6 with a run. Brigman and Palos each had two hits, two runs and two RBI. Shirley added two hits and Hearn scored three runs.
Andross (2-5) gave up five runs on eight hits, two walks and three wild pitches over his 3.2 innings. The freshman right-hander struck out two.
Triton Notes: UCSD is 27-17 at the CCAA Championship, making its 13th appearance and fourth straight ... The Tritons remain a perfect 3-0 against CSULA at the CCAA Championship ... Tyler Howsley extended his consecutive games played streak to 159 dating back to the 2015 opener ... Jack Larsen has appeared in 114 straight games, all of them starts ... JD Hearn has appeared in 81 games in a row, all of them starts ... Hearn, Howsley and Larsen are the only Tritons to appear in all 50 games this season, with only Hearn and Larsen starting each ... Kyle Goodbrand drew his eighth start ... The game started just over an hour later than the scheduled 3 p.m., at 4:01 p.m., due to the length of the first contest of the day between Chico State and CPP ... Larsen's leadoff single in the first extended his reached-base streak to 32 games ... Tyler Durna's first-inning walk extended his reached-base streak to 41 games, matching Jeff Riddle's stretch from 2004 for the longest in UCSD's NCAA Division II history (since 2001 ... Keenan Brigman's two-run double in the first extended his current team-best hit streak to 13 ... Michael Palos' first collegiate two-double game give him four this year ... Later in that third, Larsen was caught stealing for just the third time in his career, on 27 attempts ... Chad Crosbie's leadoff double in the fourth was his seventh, out of his 16 hits this season ... Larsen's fifth-inning double was his team-leading 15th ... Larsen's four RBI increase his team-leading total to 54, now alone in first in the CCAA ahead of CPP's Daniel Pitts, with 20 over his last seven games ... UCSD's six doubles, all coming over the first five frames, fell one shy of its season high of seven, which it achieved twice ... UCSD reached double digits in scoring for the 12th time in 2017 ... Larsen's sixth-inning home run was his team-best 12th on the year, 24th of his career, and fifth at Banner Island Ballpark, all coming over his last five games there ... Larsen's shot kept UCSD in the CCAA lead as a team in home runs over Cal State LA, 44-43 ... The Tritons had their incredible stretch of six games in a row with multiple home runs, ended after Larsen's lone blast ... UCSD has totaled 17 home runs in the past seven contests ... Kyle Mora made his first appearance since April 13 after recovering from injury ... Combined with the April 29 regular-season meeting, in which Kyle Goodbrand and Saxon Andross also faced off, Goodbrand tossed 13.0 shutout innings against the Golden Eagles until two runs were charged against him following his exit Friday ... UCSD had struggled against Andross that day, managing a single run on three hits and two walks over his 4.2 frames in a seven-inning game that CSULA ultimately won, 2-1 ... The Tritons drew a season-high 12 walks, reaching double figures for a second time.