CHICO, Calif. - The UC San Diego baseball team allowed two first-inning runs Sunday and fell to No. 3 Chico State, 3-1, as the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) rivals split their weekend series at Nettleton Stadium.
The loss dropped UCSD to 22-20 overall and 16-16 in the CCAA. The Tritons trail fourth-place Sonoma State by three games. Chico State, now atop the standings by two full games, moved to 32-8 overall and 25-7 in league play. The teams had split Saturday’s doubleheader after the Tritons opened the set with a 7-5 decision Friday.
The result also officially eliminates the Tritons from contention to defend their four straight CCAA regular-season crowns. The Wildcats are now nine games ahead with eight to go. The two teams shared the 2012 title, each with 26-14 marks.
Chico State opened the scoring in the home half of the first. After sophomore right-hander Dan Kolodin walked leadoff man Eric Angerer, Pierson Jeremiah sacrificed his teammate over to second. Cody Webber struck out but reached safely on a wild pitch before Angerer came around to score on Blake Gibbs’ RBI single to center. Austin Prott’s single to right then plated Webber for 2-0. The ‘Cats loaded the bases on another walk after Kolodin caught Ryne Clark looking, but Danny Susdorf tracked down Ben Manlove’s drive to center to end the inning.
UCSD’s first hit of the afternoon came in the form of a one-out, third-inning Spencer Frazier double just inside the third base bag and down the line in left. Susdorf walked to follow, but senior right-hander Kagen Hopkins induced a 4-6-3 double-play grounder out of Garrett Tuck to maintain the 2-0 edge.
Roger Boulden walked and stole second with one away in the fourth, but Dillon Moyer charged to make a tough play on Manlove, and Cody Slader flew out to center.
Prott led off the home sixth with a single, Chico State’s first hit since the senior leftfielder’s RBI single in the first. A sacrifice and a hit-by-pitch later, Moyer again victimized Manlove for the second out as both runners advanced into scoring position. A comebacker off Slader’s bat got Kolodin out of it.
The seventh began with a Nick La Face single through the left side. A fielder’s choice grounder by Justin Rahn cut the junior catcher down at second, but put Rahn there instead as Hopkins muffed the relay at first, with the ball trickling out of play. Hopkins then walked Moyer. A 4-3 double play on Liske once again turned the Tritons away empty-handed, but the contentious tag call on ‘Cats second baseman Webber as Moyer ran past him, led to the ejection of UCSD head coach Eric Newman.
Chico State added an insurance run on a pinch-hit, RBI double by Jon Peters in the eighth.
Some outfield miscommunication allowed Tuck’s knock to drop into right center for a leadoff double in the ninth. He moved to third on a right-sided groundout by Richard Seigel and scored when Rahn lined a two-out single to left. That brought the tying run to the plate, but Moyer’s groundout capped the Wildcat victory.
Kolodin (3-2) went a career-long 7.0 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and a career-high five walks. He struck out five and produced a pair of perfect frames in the second and seventh. Kolodin walked one ‘Cats hitter in the third, fourth and fifth, but got away unscathed all three times, fanning slugger Gibbs with a man at second to end the fifth. Richard Kilbury closed out the eighth with one strikeout.
Rahn was 2-for-4 with one run batted in. UCSD out-hit Chico State, 6-4.
Hopkins (7-0) scattered four hits and three walks over seven shutout frames, striking out three. He retired the Tritons in order in the second and sixth, and extended his scoreless innings streak to 20.2. Morgan Yee relieved him for a 1-2-3 eighth with a groundout, popout and strikeout. Despite being unable to keep the shutout, the senior right-hander ultimately picked up his first career save.
Prott was 2-for-2 with a walk and an RBI. Boulden reached base all three times on two walks and a hit-by-pitch, and stole a bag.
UCSD awaits another critical four-game CCAA series in the week ahead, against Cal State San Bernardino. The first two meetings will take place at Triton Ballpark on Thursday, Apr. 25, and Friday, Apr. 26, both at 6 p.m. The set concludes in San Bernardino on Saturday, Apr. 27, with a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m.
Triton Notes: UCSD still leads the series since 2001, 31-29, and has won nine of its last 12 in Chico … The Tritons are 10-9 against ranked foes in 2013 … UCSD has split its last three conference sets … The Tritons still have not lost a series at Chico State since 2007, winning two (2009, 2011) and splitting this time around … Nick La Face has started 99 straight games … Richard Seigel has started 79 games in a row … Scott Liske made his 10th straight start in right field … Dan Kolodin drew his eighth start on the mound … Kolodin has gone at least 5.0 innings in each of his past seven starts since throwing just the first four in his collegiate starting debut vs. Colorado Mesa on Feb. 2 … The five strikeouts were his most since fanning a career-best nine vs. Cal State Stanislaus on Feb. 16, which also marked his previous long outing of 6.0 frames … In his fourth straight start at second base, Spencer Frazier’s third-inning double was his first extra-base hit of 2013 … Garrett Tuck’s ninth-inning double was his fifth.
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