Having clinched a berth in the 2014 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship last Saturday, No. 25 UC San Diego hosts Azusa Pacific University in a doubleheader this Saturday, April 26, to complete the non-conference portion of its schedule. First pitch at Triton Ballpark is set for 2 p.m. Two regulation nine-inning contests will be played, with approximately a half-hour break in between.
The Tritons concluded a season-long 11-game road stretch with a four-game CCAA series split at San Francisco State last week. The Tritons are 20-7 over their last 27 games, 13-3 over the last 16, and 12-6 at home in 2014. The Cougars are 8-12 outside of Azusa.
BACK IN THE POSTSEASON
UCSD's 6-4 victory at SF State last Saturday, combined at almost the exact same time with Cal State Dominguez Hills wrapping up a 7-0 home shutout of Cal State East Bay, put the Tritons back in the CCAA Championship for the first time since 2012, when they won a fourth straight tourney title at Triton Ballpark. At 27-13 overall and 23-9 in the CCAA, UCSD remains alone in third place in the league standings. The Tritons are two games back of sixth-ranked league leader Chico State (25-7). Sonoma State (18-6) is second by percentage points, with No. 11 Cal Poly Pomona (22-10) in fourth, just one game back of the Tritons. Chico State still hosts Cal Poly Pomona this week, before concluding the regular season with Sonoma State, which takes on last-place Cal State Stanislaus in a split-venue set this weekend. CPP is idle for the final week. Chico State, Sonoma State and Cal Poly Pomona have yet to book their spots in the CCAA Championship, with the magic number at just one for both Chico and CPP. The top four teams in the final standings will once again make up the field for the double-elimination conference tournament, to be held for a second straight year at Stockton's Banner Island Ballpark, May 8-11. The park is home to the Stockton Ports, the Class A Advanced minor-league affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. UCSD will travel by bus to Stockton on Wednesday, May 7. Follow all of the action down the stretch through the live CCAA baseball scoreboard here.
General admission tickets to all regular-season home games at Triton Ballpark are $5, and are available for purchase beginning one hour prior to start time. All UCSD students are admitted FREE with valid identification. Parking on the UCSD campus is free on weekends, but a permit is required and strongly recommended for weeknight contests. They can be purchased at the machine near the entrance to the Triton Ballpark parking lot. Please be aware of the danger of foul balls when parking vehicles.
All UCSD home games at Triton Ballpark feature a live online video stream and live stats. Weeknight CCAA contests additionally have audio commentary, provided again by former Triton pitcher Tim Strombel (2007-08). The audio/video is free, but does require registration and a login. Some road contests also have video. Fans can access all live coverage for home and away dates from the Schedule/Results page. Finally, starting lineups, live between-inning updates and other in-game news and notes can be found during home contests and some road games by following Triton Baseball all season long on the UCSD Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons).
CALLING ALL TRITON BASEBALL ALUMNI
All former UCSD baseball players are invited to stay for a postgame tailgate celebration following the final day of the 2014 regular season on Saturday, May 3. UCSD will host CCAA rival Cal State San Bernardino in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. on Senior Day at Triton Ballpark. In addition to honoring our seven seniors, a reception will be held at the conclusion of the action on the field, for Triton baseball players of the past, as we usher in a new era on East Campus. UCSD Baseball will soon say goodbye to the current configuration of Triton Ballpark. Renovations and enhancements to the facility are imminent in the coming offseason, intended to be completed in time for the start of the 2015 campaign. To RSVP for the May 3 event, please send an email to email@example.com.
FOURTH IN INITIAL NCAA REGIONAL LISTING
The first release of the all-important NCAA regional rankings occurred on Wednesday, with UCSD fourth in the West behind California Baptist, Chico State and Cal Poly Pomona. The top six teams in the final version make up the NCAA Division II Championship West Regional. The winner of the 2014 CCAA Championship, May 8-11, earns an automatic berth into the West Regional. The NCAA Division II Championship selection show is set for 7 p.m. PT on Sunday, May 11, and will be streamed live on NCAA.com.
UCSD appeared at No. 39 in the preseason edition of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's NCAA Division II top-40 poll released back on Dec. 24. The Tritons returned to the top 30 at No. 30 on March 17. UCSD got as high as No. 18 on April 14. The Tritons are now No. 25 in that poll, No. 23 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) poll, and had gradually moved up from No. 10 (preseason) to No. 2 in the NCBWA West Region listing before falling one spot to No. 3 on Monday.
ABOUT THE COUGARS
Azusa Pacific (25-15, 18-10 PacWest) is coming off of an eight-game trip to Hawaii during which it went 5-3 against Pacific West Conference foes Hawai'i Pacific and UH Hilo. The Cougars got past the Vulcans 5-3 in 14 innings in Hilo in their island finale on Saturday. They play single non-conference games at Cal State San Marcos on Thursday and Friday prior to Saturday's twin bill in La Jolla. The Cougars are an even 4-4 against CCAA opponents in 2014, with Cal Poly Pomona still to play at home next Tuesday evening following Saturday's visit to UCSD. They are 8-12 on the road this season. APU remains in second place in the nine-team PacWest, behind only Dixie State (20-4). Sophomore right-hander Josh Staumont, who spent his freshman season at Biola, is a legitimate Major League Baseball prospect from the Division II ranks with a fastball touching 98-99 mph. He is currently 7-3 with a 3.23 ERA and 76 strikeouts over 69.2 innings pitched. As a staff, the Cougars have a 3.06 ERA. Azusa Pacific has a team batting average of .309 with 27 home runs, led by Jordan Brower's (.367) seven. APU is in the third year of a three-year transition period from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) into the NCAA Division II, and thus is not eligible for the 2014 NCAA Championship. The Cougars are coached by Paul Svagdis, in his 12th season.
Azusa Pacific leads the all-time series, 20-8. The teams have played just five times in the last 14 years since UCSD moved up to Division II. They split a pair in Azusa earlier this year on March 24-25, with the Cougars winning 3-1 the first night and UCSD taking a 10-6 decision the next. APU was a 7-5 victor in 11 innings at Triton Ballpark on April 13, 2013. Azusa trailed 5-1 after four frames that day before rallying, tying the game with a three-run eighth before winning in extras. The 2003 campaign saw UCSD come out on top 19-6 at home and then 7-5 in Azusa.
LAST TIME OUT
UCSD split a four-game at SF State last week. The Tritons had their ninth-inning rally fall short in a 7-6 series-opening defeat on Thursday afternoon. The teams then split the Friday doubleheader, with UCSD exploding for 11 runs on 11 hits in the ninth inning of a 17-3 rout in game one, before the Gators scored twice in the sixth to break a 1-1 deadlock and post a 3-1 victory in the seven-inning nightcap. Senior right-hander Blake Fassler retired 16 straight SFSU batters from the first to the sixth in game two, but still picked up the tough loss. The Tritons earned the split with a 6-4 decision Saturday.
STANISLAUS SERIES SUPERLATIVES
UCSD drew 30 walks in 35 innings played in its four-game sweep at Cal State Stanislaus, April 11-13 ... The Triton bullpen threw 11 complete innings of shutout baseball (6 H, 1 BB, 12 SO) over the four contests, courtesy of Javier Carrillo, Jr. (1.0), Dean Friedberg (1.0), David Hart (4.0), Dan Kolodin (1.0), Chad Rieser (1.0) and Scott Zeman (3.0) ... Most impressive among that group was Hart, who retired 12 of 13 batters faced in his three appearances, with five on strikes and six more on ground balls ... Blake Fassler needed just 54 pitches to get through five effective innings in his victorious start in the nightcap of the Saturday doubleheader (4/12).
UCSD overturned a three-run deficit to come from behind and win in four of nine games between April 3-13. To begin their split-venue series with Cal State L.A., on April 3 and April 4, the Tritons trailed 3-0 before scoring six and four unanswered runs, respectively. They posted a four-run seventh to take a 5-3 lead in the first meeting, before striking for three runs to walk off in the ninth inning the following night. At Cal State Stanislaus, UCSD opened the April 12 doubleheader with a 5-4 triumph after trailing 4-1 heading into the ninth. Garrett Tuck's 10th-inning RBI single proved to be the winner. The Tritons fell behind 3-0 after four innings in the Sunday finale on April 13 before a four-run sixth spurred them on to a 4-3 victory.
FACE ON FIRE
Nick La Face is having an incredible final year in a Triton uniform. He has played in 39 of 40 games, starting all 39, and is hitting .343, second-best on the team and eighth in the CCAA. La Face leads the league in triples (4-tied), walks (37) and on-base percentage (.494), is second in RBI (36) and slugging percentage (.526), and third in doubles (14). He also paces UCSD in home runs (1-tied) and total bases (72). La Face had one career triple before belting a pair in the series vs. Chico State, one in the finale vs. Cal State Monterey Bay (3/16), and one at SF State (4/17). His only home run of 2014 so far came at home against Chico State (2/15). La Face had reached base in 35 straight contests, the longest such streak by a Triton in 2014, when that streak was snapped by four flyouts in the April 18 nightcap at SF State (0-for-3, SF, RBI). He reached base in six straight plate appearances prior to a strikeout in the third inning of the doubleheader opener with CSUMB (3/15). Read a Triton Q&A with La Face here.
UCSD LEADING LEAGUE IN RUNS
UCSD is the No. 1 offensive team in the CCAA, having scored 259 times. That is an average of 6.5 runs per game over 40 contests. The Tritons have reached double figures in runs 10 times, with six coming during this current stretch of 13 wins in their last 16. UCSD is 19-3 this year when it produces six runs or more in a game. Seven Tritons have tallied more than 20 runs in 2014, paced by CCAA leader Erik Lewis' 44, with five at 30-plus RBI. In fact, five of the top seven run producers in the conference are from UCSD.
LA FACE APPROACHING WALKS MARK
With a league-best 37 walks thus far on the year, Nick La Face has increased his career total to 124. He is 18 away from tying the program record for career walks of 142, set by Matt Cantele between 2006-09. La Face's 37 free passes are a new single-season best for the fifth-year senior, who walked 35 times in 2013. He is eight walks from matching Aaron Bauman for the program's single-season record of 45 (2010). Toward his pursuit of Cantele and Bauman, La Face will have at least six more regular-season games and two postseason contests. He ranks third in the entire nation in the NCAA Division II in walks per game, at 0.95, and is tied for fourth in total walks. La Face drew at least one walk (15 total) in 11 straight games prior to the finale with CSUMB, and had walked in another seven contests in a row entering the SF State series. La Face has earned a free pass a career-high three times on two occasions in 2014, with nine multi-walk games in all.
UCSD's .975 fielding percentage (1020-431-37) ranks second in the CCAA, behind only Chico State (.980), and tied for fifth in the entire country in Division II. Nine times over the last 16 games in which the Tritons are 13-3, they have played error-free baseball. In the last 20 games, UCSD has committed more than one error on three occasions, twice in wins. The program record for single-season fielding percentage is .984 from 2010.
LA FACE CLIMBING MORE CAREER CHARTS
In addition to his pursuit of UCSD walk marks, Nick La Face also just this past weekend entered the career chart in RBI. La Face's two runs driven in at SF State (4/19) gave him 128 for his career and moved him into the No. 10 position all-time in program history. He is sixth in doubles with 53.
UCSD has a current team ERA of 3.20. That number rates fourth in the CCAA and 29th nationally in the NCAA Division II. The Tritons are 14th in walks allowed per nine innings (2.49), 33rd in hits allowed per nine innings (8.34), 16th in WHIP (1.2) and 30th in shutouts (five). The 3.20 mark is the program's best under third-year pitching coach Rob Avila.
Justin Donatella (6-2) has won six of his eight conference starts, only taking a no-decision at Cal State East Bay (3/28) and finally his first loss at SF State (4/17). He has the ninth-best ERA in the CCAA at 2.35, and is third with 53 strikeouts. The sophomore right-hander put together a shutout stretch of 17.1 innings from Feb. 20 to a March 24 relief stint at Azusa Pacific. Donatella allowed two runs on four hits and three walks over 7.0 innings at No. 15 Cal Poly Pomona, retiring 11 straight Broncos at one point. He gave up one hit over six shutout innings in an 8-1 victory over No. 12 Chico State (2/14), walking two with six strikeouts while outdueling Chico State ace and then-reigning CCAA Pitcher of the Week Nick Baker. Donatella set down 10 batters in a row during one stretch. That win was his second as a college pitcher and first as a starter. At home on March 6, Donatella put it all together for 6.2 no-hit frames and 8.1 shutout innings in all, setting a new program record for the Division II era with 13 strikeouts while scattering three hits without a walk. He achieved a new career long in each of his first four appearances of 2014. The big 6-foot-6 product of Saugus who saw just 13.2 innings of work as a freshman in 2013 (11.20 ERA), wrapped up the exhibition season with nine shutout frames over two starts with six hits allowed, all singles, no walks, and 14 strikeouts.
GET ON BASE THE TRITON WAY
UCSD ranks first in the CCAA in walks (200) by a wide margin and second in hit-by-pitches (64), behind only Chico State (65) in the latter category. Sonoma State is closest in walks, way behind with 142. Tritons Nick La Face (37) and Erik Lewis (33) are 1-2 in the league individually in bases on balls, with Justin Rahn fifth (23). UCSD is tied for ninth nationally in the category. Thirteen different Tritons have been hit at least once, led by Michael Mann with 13 and Brett Levy with 11. Mann now leads the conference, with Levy tied for third.
CRUZ DOING IT ALL
Triton sophomore Troy Cruz has been a jack of all trades once again this season. The 2013 All-CCAA First Team selection at utility is the only Triton who has started all 40 games, at either third base (27), pitcher (nine) or designated hitter (four). UCSD is 7-1 in league games in which he was the starting pitcher, including six straight wins. In his first mound start of the season on Feb. 16, Cruz went 7.0 innings (6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) to earn the win and the series split for UCSD against Chico State. He threw seven more innings without a decision against Cal State Monterey Bay (3/16) to help the Tritons gain another series split. Cruz tossed the first complete game by a UCSD pitcher in 2014, going 6.0 innings in a 12-4 win at CSUDH (3/8). He then twirled the first nine-inning complete game by a Triton since Ryan Goodbrand on May 18, 2012, to clinch the series victory at Cal State East Bay (3/30). The nine innings and six strikeouts that day both marked career bests. Cruz produced his second career seven-inning shutout at Cal State L.A. (4/5), and threw another seven effective frames in a victory at Cal State Stanislaus (4/13). He accounted for the Tritons' lone complete game in 2013, and has four for his career. Cruz hit in the leadoff position in each of the first eight games, and is now batting .321 with 24 runs, seven doubles, three triples, 32 RBI and a team-best seven steals on nine attempts. He has also made two relief appearances.
Senior Justin Rahn is third on the team with a .338 batting average. He is second on the team and third in the league with 34 RBI, and is also second on the UCSD chart with 50 hits, nine doubles and 64 total bases. Rahn is one of three Tritons to appear in all 40 contests, with 39 starts in the outfield. He has one of five UCSD home runs in 2014, that coming at home on Opening Day in the nightcap vs. Holy Names (2/2), a two-run shot to center in the second. Rahn reached base in each of the first 23 games prior to the series opener at Cal State East Bay (3/28). His current hit streak is the longest by a Triton in 2014, and the best of his UCSD career.
E-LEW PROVIDING A BIG SPARK
Erik Lewis has been a revelation in his first season at UCSD. The former Long Beach State (2011-12) and Fullerton College (2013) player has appeared in all 40 games, starting 39 at second base. He now leads the team with a .354 batting average, and ranks first in the CCAA by 11 runs with 44. Lewis is fifth in the league in hitting, and second in both walks (33) and on-base percentage (.484) behind teammate Nick La Face. Lewis has a team-best 17 multi-hit games, including one four-hit effort. Defensively, he has been charged with just two errors in 225 defensive chances for a .991 fielding percentage, and has contributed to 33 double plays. He handled 103 plays in a row cleanly before his first error on March 13, and 111 straight until his latest on April 19.
UCSD has three walk-off wins in 2014. In the first game of a Feb. 22 doubleheader with Cal Poly Pomona, UCSD produced its first such triumph, 6-5, as Garrett Tuck's single to center drove in Troy Cruz from second base. Gradeigh Sanchez had stolen home as a pinch-runner to level the score just moments before as the Tritons erased the 5-4 ninth-inning deficit. Then in the March 16 series finale with Cal State Monterey Bay, Sanchez provided the pinch-hit, two-out single through the left side of the infield on an 0-2 pitch to plate Brett Levy from second base in the 4-3 triumph. Watch it here. Most recently, freshman centerfielder Jack Larsen's two-run single up the middle with one away completed a three-run ninth and comeback from a 3-0 deficit as UCSD edged Cal State L.A., 4-3. Watch that hit here.
DOUBLE DIP CYCLE FOR SANCHEZ
Sophomore outfielder Gradeigh Sanchez hit for the cycle during the March 28 doubleheader at Cal State East Bay. He led off the opener with an inside-the-park home run, marking the first round-tripper of his college career. Sanchez then added a leadoff triple in the seven-inning nightcap and a fourth-inning double to complete the feat, with a single in each contest. Having entered that series with one career extra-base hit in the form of a double on March 15, Sanchez now has four. During his career-best six-game hit streak from March 16-30, Sanchez was 9-for-21 (.429) with eight runs, three RBI, a double, a triple, a home run, five walks and a stolen base. He also played a key role in the first two walk-off victories for the Tritons in 2014.
HE'S THE MANN
In his first season at UCSD following a transfer from Diablo Valley College, junior Michael Mann has made an immediate impact on the program, starting 39 of 40 games at first base. He is tied for third on the team and fourth in the league with 32 RBI. Mann is hitting .276 with 23 runs, seven doubles, one home run and a CCAA-best 13 hit-by-pitches. He missed just the series opener at Cal Poly Pomona (2/20). Mann has both a four-hit game, coming in the opener of a doubleheader at Cal State Dominguez Hills on March 8, and a pair of four-RBI performances. The first was in the nightcap of that same twin bill, with the latter more recently to open the double dip at Cal State L.A. (4/5). His first home run in a Triton uniform came in the series opener at Cal State East Bay (3/28).
UCSD entered its series with Cal Poly Pomona Feb. 20-22 with six double plays over its first nine games. The Tritons turned nine during the four-game weekend split, with four in the opener and three the next day. Four different CPP batters hit into the four double plays in that first game, with the first two started by Tyler Howsley, a true freshman making just his fourth start at shortstop. The last two came in the eighth and ninth, with a pair of Broncos on base each time as UCSD held on for a 4-2 victory. The Tritons had last turned four double plays at San Francisco State on April 30, 2010. That 2010 squad that went 54-8 and lost in the national championship game, set a school record with 68 twin killings on the year. The Tritons have now turned 40 double plays through 40 games in 2014, tied for 16th nationally in Division II. They are tied for 13th in double plays per game.
GOLDEN EAGLES SWEPT ASIDE
UCSD swept a split-venue, four-game series from Cal State L.A., April 3-5. The Tritons overturned 3-0 deficits in each of the first two primetime meetings in La Jolla, winning 6-3 and then 4-3 in walk-off fashion. They scored three in the ninth in the latter affair, capped by a two-run single by Jack Larsen. UCSD then took both ends of the Saturday doubleheader in Los Angeles. A season-high 19 hits led to a 13-2 demolition in the opener. Troy Cruz then tossed his second career seven-inning shutout in the nightcap as the Tritons won, 2-0. It marked the second of three CCAA sweeps for UCSD in 2014.
LA FACE NAMED CCAA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Nick La Face was selected on March 10 as the CCAA Baseball Player of the Week for the week of March 3-9. La Face, a native of North Hollywood (Notre Dame HS), continued his hot start to his fifth and final season as a Triton, leading UCSD to a four-game, split-venue CCAA series sweep over Cal State Dominguez Hills. He hit .545 (6-for-11) with eight walks for a .737 on-base percentage and two doubles for a .727 slugging percentage. La Face started all four games, scored four runs and drove in seven. He was the second Triton to earn a weekly conference honor after Justin Rahn on Feb. 3.
DIVISION II ERA SINGLE-GAME STRIKEOUT KING
Sophomore right-hander Justin Donatella struck out a career-high 13 over a career-long 8.1 innings (3 H, 0 BB) in a 1-0 home victory against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Thursday, March 6. The strikeout total was a UCSD program record in the NCAA Division II era (since 2001). Matt Rossman struck out 12 over a remarkable 11.0 innings against Central Missouri at the 2010 NCAA Division II Championship in Cary, N.C., on May 24, 2010, and Jeff Rauh set down 12 on strikes in six complete frames vs. Western Oregon on 2012 Opening Day (2/3). Donatella tossed 6.2 no-hit innings before allowing a double.
UCSD put together a five-run second inning and benefitted from four errors in posting a second successive shutout victory against Cal State Dominguez Hills, 7-0, at Triton Ballpark on March 7. The Tritons thus produced back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1995, having blanked the Toros in the opener of their four-game CCAA series the previous night, 1-0. In 1995, UCSD had shutout wins on the road at Concordia, 5-0, on April 3, and Southern California College (now Vanguard), 6-0, on April 5. UCSD has five shutouts in 2014, the others a 9-0 decision vs. Holy Names on Opening Day (2/2), a 12-0 road rout of Cal State East Bay (3/30) and a 2-0 success in seven innings at Cal State L.A. (4/5).
WEEKLY AWARD FOR RAHN
Justin Rahn's stellar Opening Day netted him the season's first CCAA Baseball Player of the Week award on Feb. 3. It was the first of his career. Rahn put UCSD on the scoreboard in both victories over Holy Names, clearing the bases with a three-run double to left in the first inning of game one and adding the first home run by a Triton in 2014, a two-run shot to center, in the second inning of the nightcap.
The Tritons are 20-1 when out-hitting the opposition, the lone loss coming at SF State, 7-6 on April 17, when they managed 13 hits to just nine by the Gators ... UCSD has five shutouts this season, its most since 2010 ... UCSD has yet to lose a league series in 2014, with three sweeps, a 3-1 win, and four splits ... Senior right-hander Blake Fassler, who walked just nine in 64.2 innings against 50 strikeouts for a stellar strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.56 in 2013, has gone at least 5.0 innings in 16 of his 19 starting assignments as a Triton, including eight of 10 in 2014 ... Junior left-hander Trevor Scott threw his first career complete game in the March 28 doubleheader nightcap at Cal State East Bay, tossing the full seven frames ... Redshirt freshman outfielder Brandon Shirley laced a 2-2 pitch down the left field line for a double in the eighth inning of game one of the Opening Day doubleheader with Holy Names (2/1) to punctuate the first at-bat of his Triton career ... UCSD ended then-15th-ranked and previously undefeated Cal Poly Pomona's perfect 10-0 start to the campaign with a 4-2 victory behind seven strong innings from Justin Donatella and four clutch double plays defensively in Pomona (2/20) ... UCSD is 2-1 in season openers under Eric Newman and 11-3 since moving to Division II status for 2001 ... UCSD is 2-1 in CCAA openers with Newman in charge, with back-to-back wins after a 4-1 loss to Chico State in La Jolla on Feb. 17, 2012 ... The Tritons are an even 7-7 in CCAA openers all-time (since 2001), and 7-1 with six splits in sets to begin the league season ... Having earned a third straight split with a 7-3 win in the Sunday finale on Feb. 16, UCSD still has not lost its regular-season four-game series with rival Chico State since 2007, when it dropped three of four in Chico ... Troy Cruz was named on Jan. 29 to the utility position on the 15-player NCBWA Preseason All-West Region First Team ... UCSD was picked to place sixth in the 2014 CCAA regular-season race by the league's 11 head coaches, also as announced on Jan. 29, with 2013 West Region runner-up Chico State favored for the third time in as many years to finish first, and reigning CCAA regular-season champion Cal State Monterey Bay projected for second ... All but two players on the 37-man 2014 roster, junior pitcher Alon Leichman (Kibbutz Gezer, Israel) and redshirt outfielder Tim White (Stratford, CT), are California natives ... Besides Cruz (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista HS), the four remaining San Diego products are fellow sophomore Adrian Orozco (Chula Vista/Otay Ranch HS), redshirt freshman Austin Hensley (San Diego/Valhalla HS) and redshirts Steven Coe (Valley Center/Valley Center HS) and Gabe Simpson (Encinitas/Cathedral Catholic HS).
UCSD's 2014 schedule consists of 46 regular-season games (following four rain cancellations with Sonoma State), including 22 at home within the friendly confines of Triton Ballpark. The Tritons have the luxury of facing the two projected favorites in the CCAA, Chico State and Cal State Monterey Bay, a combined eight times in La Jolla. UCSD plays 16 of its first 21 at home, but closes with 19 of 25 on the road. For the second year in a row, the CCAA Championship will be held at Stockton's neutral-site Banner Island Ballpark, home of the Stockton Ports, the Class A Advanced affiliate of Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics. The four-team tournament takes place May 8-11, with UCSD a five-time champion (2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).
PLENTY OF TALENT BACK
UCSD's 36-player 2014 roster features 17 letterwinners, two returning redshirts and 17 newcomers. The Tritons bring back six of nine position starters, as well as three of four starting pitchers from a year ago. Troy Cruz was the 2013 CCAA Freshman of the Year and an All-CCAA First Team honoree after a standout rookie campaign as a multiple threat on the mound, in the field and at the plate. The senior tandem of fifth-year catcher Nick La Face and fourth-year left-sided infielder Garrett Tuck were both All-West Region selections in 2012, and are each former All-CCAA First Team picks in their own right, with Tuck in 2012 and La Face in 2011. Tuck earned that distinction at shortstop, and looks to be back at that position after spending 2013 at third base. Spencer Frazier and Justin Rahn are two more senior veterans who garnered All-CCAA honorable mention in 2012. On the mound, right-handers Cruz, Blake Fassler and Dan Kolodin were in the rotation in 2013. Senior right-hander Scott Zeman and junior left-hander Chad Rieser are again available out of the bullpen.
There are 17 players new to the Triton roster. Junior transfers Erik Lewis and Michael Mann are everyday starters at second and first base, respectively. Lewis spent the 2013 season at Fullerton College after beginning his college career at Division I Big West Conference power Long Beach State. Mann is from Diablo Valley College. Tyler Howsley, Jack Larsen and Christian Leung are three true freshmen who have earned their college debuts and started several games. Larsen and Howsley were teammates at Capistrano Valley High School. Three new arms to see the mound this season have been Eric Moersen, a sophomore left-handed specialist who transferred from the University of Utah, and junior right-handers Javier Carrillo Jr., and Dean Friedberg. Moersen, who redshirted at Utah in 2012, needed 12 pitches to retire the first three batters he faced over three appearances, with two on strikes. Eight newcomers are slated to redshirt.
HEAD COACH ERIC NEWMAN
Eric Newman is in his third season as the UCSD head coach. The 2012 CCAA Coach of the Year has an 86-61 record (69-43 CCAA) in charge of the Tritons and 181-133 overall in his five seasons as a head coach. Newman guided UCSD to the 2012 CCAA regular-season and tournament titles in his first go-around in La Jolla, and a subsequent berth in the NCAA Division II West Regional. He previously spent three years at the helm of Dallas Baptist University from 2004-07.
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Following Saturday's non-conference doubleheader with Azusa Pacific, UCSD closes out the 2014 regular season with one final CCAA series, a split-venue affair with Cal State San Bernardino. The first two games are 3 p.m. starts at Fiscalini Field in San Bernardino on Thursday, May 1, and Friday, May 2. The series then shifts to Triton Ballpark in La Jolla on Senior Day on Saturday, May 3. The teams will contest a doubleheader, with first pitch slated for approximately 2 p.m., after seven Triton seniors are recognized.