SAN FRANCISCO - Already up 6-3, No. 18 UC San Diego exploded for 11 runs on 11 hits in the ninth to put a 17-3 mauling on San Francisco State University in game one of a California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) baseball doubleheader at Maloney Field on Friday.
The host Gators scored twice in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a 1-1 deadlock and earn the split of the twin bill with a 3-1 victory in the seven-inning nightcap.
With the split, UCSD moved to 26-13 overall and 22-9 in the CCAA. SF State, a winner of five straight entering the day, is now 19-22 overall and 14-17 in league play. The Tritons had dropped Thursday’s opener of the four-game series, 7-6.
The 17 runs in game one were a new season high for UCSD.
All results from Friday being taken into account, with five CCAA doubleheaders involving 10 of the league’s 11 teams, the third-place Tritons’ magic number to clinch one of four berths into the 2014 CCAA Championship is now at two. UCSD can cement its first return to the postseason since 2012 with a win Saturday and a loss by Cal State East Bay at Cal State Dominguez Hills. The Tritons are one game ahead of fourth-place Cal Poly Pomona and two games back of first-place Chico State.
UCSD and SF State conclude their set with a single finale Saturday ahead of Sunday’s Easter holiday. First pitch at Maloney Field is slated for 11 a.m. The contest will also mark the end of the Tritons’ season-long 11-game road stretch.
Erik Lewis worked a nine-pitch walk to begin the opener after fouling off a trio of 3-2 offerings from Gator starter Jack Veronin. The senior right-hander got a pair of flyouts around a called third strike from there.
Junior left-hander Trevor Scott matched his counterpart and issued a base on balls to leadoff man Dillon Meyer. Trevor Diskin immediately went to right center with the game’s first hit on the next pitch. A failed double steal still left Meyer at third, and enabled him to come home on an RBI groundout by Carter Loud.
UCSD got to Veronin in the third. A strikeout was followed by a Garrett Tuck single, Lewis walk and RBI double to left by Troy Cruz to tie the game. Nick La Face walked to load the bases. The Gator infield then booted a ground ball by Justin Rahn to plate two runs and give the Tritons their first lead at 3-1.
Scott struck out the side, all swinging, to notch a shutdown inning in the home half.
Back-to-back singles by Brett Levy and Brandon Shirley began the fourth. Tuck’s bunt moved both runners into scoring position, which became a moot point when Lewis tripled into the left field corner. The junior second baseman then scored on a Cruz single to left center to make it a 6-1 game.
Scott found a groove, retiring 13 straight SF State batters in all between the Diskin single in the first and a Matt Vera double with two gone in the fifth. Five came on strikeouts, with five others on the infield, including four ground balls. An outfield foulout left Vera stranded on second in that fifth.
Two singles and two wild pitches led to a run for SF State in the home sixth, with a walk to Diskin putting men and first and second still with nobody out. Two flyouts in a row to right, the latter of the sacrifice variety, netted SFSU another run for 6-3.
UCSD put the result well out of doubt with an 11-run ninth, sending 17 to the plate and producing 11 hits in one frame alone to go along with three walks. Rahn knocked in four on a two-run double and a two-run single.
Redshirt freshman rightfielder Brandon Shirley, batting in the eight hole, led off by lifting his first collegiate home run on the first pitch over the wall in left. Singles by Tuck and Lewis, a Cruz sacrifice and an intentional walk to La Face loaded the bases for Rahn, who sent a two-run double to right and forced a pitching change. Larsen and Mann followed with RBI singles, with Larsen also coming around on Mann’s hit thanks to an outfield error. A ground-rule double by Levy plated Mann.
Having batted around, Shirley walked. Tuck’s single loaded the bases. An RBI fielder’s choice by Lewis, RBI single by Cruz and two-run Rahn single capped the scoring before SFSU finally mustered the final out.
Scott (4-2) allowed three runs on four hits and two walks over 6.0 innings. He struck out five. A strikeout, groundout and flyout gave him a 1-2-3 frame in the second. Scott would add two more perfect innings consecutively from there.
Chad Rieser threw the seventh with one hit against him and one strikeout. Dan Kolodin tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and stayed on for the ninth. He gave up one hit and struck out two, and having entered the game with UCSD up 6-3, earned his first save.
Lewis finished 2-for-4 with a two-run triple, two walks, three RBI and a season-high four runs scored. Rahn was 2-for-6 with a double, run scored and career-best five RBI.
Veronin (2-3) went 6.0 innings and gave up six runs, five of them earned, on seven hits and three walks, striking out three. A 5-3 double play got him out of the second after a one-out hit-by-pitch. Veronin set down the Tritons in order in the fifth. Joe Chedid turned away the first six batters he faced in relief before Shirley’s shot.
The Tritons picked up right where they left off in the first game, with Lewis and Cruz providing back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners with no outs in the first. La Face’s sacrifice fly put UCSD on the scoreboard. A walk, sacrifice bunt and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, but Gator starter Preston Tarter wriggled out of it.
SF State similarly opened with consecutive singles, with a bunt putting two Gators in scoring position. It wound up as dueling sacrifice flies as Bryce Cherry tied it. Blake Fassler caught Grady Espinosa staring at strike three for the third out.
Both pitchers cruised through the second and third with nothing across. Successive walks put UCSD in business in the fourth, but Tarter rallied for a strikeout, foulout and flyout to keep the score knotted at 1-1.
In the home sixth, Gator leadoff batter Nick Jackson’s one-out double to the gap in left center ended a remarkable stretch by Fassler. With two gone, Fassler issued an intentional free pass to Loud and gave way to fellow senior right-hander Scott Zeman, the Triton closer. Run-scoring singles by Cherry and Espinosa propelled SF State to the game victory and doubleheader split.
Fassler (4-3) was the tough-luck loser, going 5.2 innings and allowing three runs on just three hits and the one intentional walk. He struck out one, and retired 16 straight Gators between the consecutive singles in the first and the Jackson double. Fassler needed a mere 32 pitches to register 12 outs in the second, third, fourth and fifth, setting down eight on ground balls, with five of them to Tuck at short.
Tarter (4-5) gave up one run on four hits and three walks over 6.0 frames. He struck out three. Fellow junior right-hander Cory Davis plunked the leadoff batter in the seventh, Lewis, before three flyouts from the 2-3-4 batters in the UCSD order gave him his 11th save of the year and second of the series.
Cruz had two of UCSD’s four hits. For the Gators, Jackson was 2-for-3 with his double and two runs scored. Cherry went 1-for-2 with two RBI.
Triton Notes: Troy Cruz is the only Triton to start all 39 games, with eight coming on the mound ... In the opener, Trevor Scott drew his eighth start of the year and 24th of his career ... Brett Levy caught his eighth would-be base-stealer on 23 attempts in the first inning of game one ... Erik Lewis walked twice in a game for the 11th time this season .... Lewis’ fourth-inning triple was his third, and a league-best 13th for UCSD ... Nick La Face extended his reached-base streak to 35 games with a third-inning walk in the first game, before flying out four times in going 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly to see that streak finally snapped during the nightcap ... La Face’s two walks in game one increased his league-best total to 37, a new single-season career high after drawing 35 in 2013 ... Justin Rahn’s five RBI were the most by a Triton in a game this year ... The Tritons have reached double figures in runs 10 times in 2014, and improved to 18-3 when tallying at least six runs in a game ... The 17 runs were the most scored by UCSD since a 20-2 victory, also at SF State, on March 17, 2012 ... UCSD reached double digits in runs in a single inning for the first time since putting together a 10-run eighth in a 13-3 home win over SF State on March 6, 2011 ... Blake Fassler’s start in the nightcap was his 10th of 2014 and 19th of his Triton career ... Michael Mann was hit by a pitch once in each game, increasing his team-leading total to 13 ... The Tritons have equaled their number of overall wins from a year ago (26-24).