TURLOCK, Calif. - The 24th-ranked UC San Diego baseball team used a six-run sixth en route to matching its season-high offensive output and handily defeating Cal State Stanislaus, 13-4, in the opener of a four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) series Friday night at Warrior Baseball Field.
With its eighth straight league win, third-place UCSD improved to 22-11 overall and 18-7 in the CCAA. Last-place Stanislaus fell to 11-22 overall and 5-19 in the league. The Tritons now have a six-game cushion in playoff position for the four-team CCAA Tournament.
All nine Tritons in the starting lineup reached base at least once. Sophomore third baseman Troy Cruz was 3-for-3 with a walk, run scored, two RBI and two steals. Junior catcher Brett Levy knocked in a career-high four runs.
Justin Donatella (6-1) was not his sharpest self, allowing season highs of four runs on 11 hits, but he still earned his sixth winning decision in seven CCAA starts. The sophomore right-hander walked three and struck out six, retiring the Warriors in order in the first. He was charged with his first wild pitch of the year in the third.
Sophomore counterpart Jeremy McDonald (4-4), a left-hander, lasted 4.1 frames and also gave up four runs, on three hits and six walks, striking out one.
UCSD opened the scoring with a single run in the third. After singles by Justin Rahn and Cruz to open the frame and a sacrifice by Jack Larsen, Michael Mann fouled off three 0-2 pitches from McDonald before drawing a hit-by-pitch to load the bases. Levy lifted a sacrifice fly to left to bring Rahn home.
Donatella ran into trouble in the home second, but managed to get out of it. Back-to-back singles preceded a bad bunt by Matt Chaidez that Donatella himself gathered and fired to Cruz at third to cut down the lead runner. A four-pitch walk loaded the bases, but an infield lineout and a called third strike ended the inning.
The Tritons struck for three in the fifth on just one hit, benefitting from four McDonald walks before a pitching change. Erik Lewis singled through the left side on an 0-2 offering to load the bases, and La Face and Rahn each walked to force in runs. A sacrifice fly by Cruz made it 4-0.
A four-pitch leadoff walk led to the home side getting those three right back in the home half on a two-run single by Marcus Mastrobuoni and an RBI fielder’s choice.
UCSD broke it open in the sixth, however, sending 11 men to the plate, registering five hits and capitalizing on a pair of Stanislaus errors for its six runs, two of them unearned. Lewis had the biggest hit, a two-run triple to right center. Tyler Howsley, La Face and Cruz added RBI singles. Mann walked twice in the frame.
The Warriors scored once in their sixth on a two-out, bases-loaded single up the middle by Dayton Mellor, but the Tritons tacked on three more in the eighth on a two-out, bases-clearing double down the left field line by Levy.
Senior right-hander David Hart relieved Donatella and was brilliant, striking out the side on 11 pitches in the seventh and inducing three groundouts to complete his perfect two-inning stint. Javier Carrillo, Jr. threw a 1-2-3 ninth, all on the infield with a strikeout, groundout and foulout.
Lewis wound up 2-for-5 with a walk, triple, two runs and two RBI. Rahn added a pair of hits. He, Howsley and Mann each walked twice and scored twice.
Mellor and Colton Beatty collected three hits apiece for the Warriors. Mastrobuoni was 2-for-4 with a run, two RBI and a steal. Junior rightfielder Skippy Ferreria, who boasted a CCAA-leading .402 batting average at the start of the day, was held to an 0-for-4 night, but managed to score two runs.
UCSD and Cal State Stanislaus continue their series Saturday with a doubleheader. First pitch for game one at Warrior Baseball Field is set for 2 p.m.
Triton Notes: Troy Cruz is the only Triton to start all 33 games, with seven coming on the mound ... Cruz swiped two bases in a contest for the first time in his career to increase his team-leading total to seven, but in between in the fourth inning, was caught stealing for the first time in 2014 after six successful attempts ... Justin Donatella made his eighth start of 2014 and ninth of his career on the mound for UCSD ... Michael Mann’s second-inning hit-by-pitch was his team-best 10th ... Nick La Face extended his reached-base streak to 30 games, the longest by a Triton in 2014 ... La Face’s fifth-inning walk was his league-leading 31st ... Javier Carrillo, Jr. hit for La Face in the ninth, marking the first at-bat of his UCSD career for the relief pitcher, who then made his fifth appearance on the mound in the home half ... The Tritons have now reached double figures in runs eight times in 2014, and improved to 16-2 when tallying at least six runs in a game ... The 13 runs tonight pushed UCSD over the 200-run mark for the year, now at a CCAA-leading 210 ... The Tritons drew a season-high 10 walks for the third time, and padded their comfortable lead in the league standings in that category as well, with 42 more than closest competitor Sonoma State ... UCSD’s current eight-game win streak in CCAA action is its longest under third-year head coach Eric Newman, and longest since taking the last 15 league tilts of the 2011 campaign.