SEASIDE, Calif. -
Dixie State capitalized on three Triton errors for a pair of runs and UCSD was victim to a dubious call in the top of the seventh inning as third-seeded Dixie State edged the sixth-seeded Tritons 3-2 in opening game of the NCAA West Regional on Friday afternoon at Otter Sports Complex.
UCSD will face an elimination game on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against No. 7-seed Montana State-Billings. MSUB fell to No. 2-seed Cal State Monterey Bay 12-4 on Friday afternoon.
Tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs and a runner on third, DSC's Anna Cue lasered a hard grounder to the right side. The ball glanced off Triton first baseman Nicole Spangler's glove and behind the bag, allowing Jaelle Judkins to score and put the Red Storm up by one.
"It's uncharacteristic for us to have errors. At this stage, it's going to be the teams with the least amount of mistakes who are going to win,"said UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens. "We know that and we have to play better."
In UCSD's final at-bat, Kris Lesovsky notched a one-out single before Kirsten Willmon doubled into the right center field gap. Lesovsky held at third base, forcing Willmon to get caught in between third and second. Willmon slid back to the second-base bag and was called safe after close play.
However, the DSC head coach protested the decision, calling into question the second base umpire's angle on the play. After a three-minute discussion between the coaches and the umpires, Willmon was called out for the second out of the inning.
"[The second base umpire] could not have been in any better spot, to tell you the truth. For her to have to confer with [the home plate umpire] from across the way - from my perspective [on the third base line] I couldn't even see - so I don't know how he could," said Gerckens.
Caitlin Brown fouled-out at the left field wall on the next play to end the game, a ball that would have likely scored Lesovsky from third on a sacrifice fly if there was one-down.
UCSD drops to 35-20 while DSC moves to 37-11.
After stranding four runners over their first three at-bats, the Tritons loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning on consecutive singles by Mya Romero, Maria Sykes and Monique Portugal.
Lauren Folta appeared as though she would escape the UCSD threat, coming back from a 2-0 count to strikeout UCSD pinch-hitter Jennifer Manuel for the second out of the inning before jumping ahead on Lesovsky, 1-2. However, Lesovsky worked the count full before fouling off three consecutive pitches. On the ninth delivery of the at-bat, Lesovsky striped a liner the opposite way, bringing home Romero and Sykes to make it 2-1 UCSD.
Lesovsky's hit broke the UCSD record for career hits and her pair of RBI on the play tied her for the school record (123). Lesovsky was 2-for-3 in the game and now has 258 hits.
When asked about the feat in a postgame press conference, Lesovsky explained, "Those things are going to come, but it's always been about winning."
Cue answered with a one-out solo home run in the bottom half to make it 2-2.
The Red Storm opened the scoring in the first thanks to a little help from the Triton defense. After Camille Gaito (23-9) hit Courtney Hine on the knee to put a runner aboard with one-out, Johnna Brown lifted a bloop single into left field. However, the ball bounced past Willmon, dribbling to the wall to allow Hine to score from first and Brown to stop at third. Gaito forced Kelsey Mendenhall to ground out before striking out Courtney Sherwin.
Gaito set a UCSD record of her own as well in the game, passing Melissa Ward (2005-08) in the second inning for the most career innings pitched. Gaito's career total now stands at 779.1, 4.1 innings more than Ward.
Gaito struck out five while surrendering just four hits and a single earned run.
"It's a new year and we're up for the challenge," said Gerckens. "The road is still there and we can finish on top."
The winner of UCSD-MSUB advances to face the loser of CSUMB-DSC on Saturday at 4:00 p.m.