LA JOLLA, Calif. - The UC San Diego baseball team scored 15 runs over the first three innings and rolled over Cal State San Marcos, 19-0, in an exhibition game at Triton Ballpark on Tuesday night.
It was the second of three exhibition contests for UCSD, rated No. 39 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s preseason NCAA Division II rankings, ahead of its 2014 opener. Cal State San Marcos is No. 16 in the NAIA poll after going 35-12 as the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) conference champion in 2013.
The Tritons blanked San Diego Christian, No. 22 in the NAIA, 4-0 in their first exhibition last Friday night, and have given up eight hits and three walks over 18 shutout innings this preseason.
Against CSUSM, Justin Donatella started on the mound and struck out six over four complete frames, allowing just three singles. Troy Cruz (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista HS), like Donatella a sophomore right-hander and the 2013 California Collegiate Athletic Association Freshman of the Year, went the next 3.2 innings, striking out four with three hits and two walks against.
Offensively, Cruz, a two-way standout, went 4-for-4 with three runs, one RBI, one walk and a hit-by-pitch at the top of third-year head coach Eric Newman’s batting order. Cruz got things rolling with his leadoff triple in the first on a 1-2 count as CSUSM centerfielder Matt Arlington made a diving attempt to his right toward left center, only to come up empty. Jack Larsen drew a walk before Erik Lewis stroked an RBI double, also with two strikes, to the opposite gap for the game’s first run.
UCSD struck three times each in the first two innings, before exploding for nine in the third on six hits. Twelve Tritons came to bat, including Justin Rahn twice, the leftfielder compiling two singles, two runs and two RBI. UCSD totaled 13 hits on the night, with Rahn, fellow senior Spencer Frazier, Erik Lewis and Christian Leung adding two apiece to Cruz’s four. Larsen wound up with three runs scored. Senior catcher Nick La Face had two RBI and also denied a stolen base attempt in the third.
“I definitely saw a team from our standpoint, where we took to heart the things that we saw in the first game, and we worked on it a lot,” remarked Newman after UCSD had stranded 10 runners and struck out on eight occasions with men in scoring position four nights prior. “We came up in situations where we had runners in scoring position and guys really put good at-bats together. Nick La Face in the first inning set the tone and then Erik Lewis came up with the bases loaded (in the third) and got his hit. We were able to get some momentum and break it open there.
“I was happy with our approach really the whole game, and our execution early on. (CSUSM) made some mistakes, but we capitalized on them. That’s what we want to be able to do. We don’t measure ourselves necessarily on how many runs we’re scoring all the time, but when we got those opportunities, being able to take advantage of them and put this game away early was a good sign.
“Our pitching again today was really good. (Justin) Donatella came out and set the tone. He threw strikes early and established a good pace to the game. He really only had one jam that he had to pitch out of with runners at first and third and two outs (in the fourth), and he did a great job.
“I like the attitude of our pitching staff right now. They embrace those opportunities when guys get on (base), to really make pitches and get out of those situations. I thought both Justin and Troy (Cruz) did that. I liked (Eric) Moersen coming in out of the bullpen with a runner on, facing a lefty, which is a situation we are going to see him in, and he did a great job.
“I like what I see defensively, too. We’ve got a long ways to go. We’re still playing a lot of new guys. So far, I really like the makeup of this team.”
UCSD rounds out the exhibition slate next Tuesday night, Jan. 28, against a third NAIA foe in Vanguard University. First pitch at Triton Ballpark is set for 6 p.m.