SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - The 20th-ranked UC San Diego baseball team got out to a 6-0 advantage and topped Cal State San Bernardino, 9-2, in the opener of a four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) series at Fiscalini Field on Thursday afternoon.
The result marked UCSD’s 30th win of the 2014 campaign, as the Tritons improved to 30-13 overall and 24-9 in the CCAA. They are now assured of no worse than the No. 3 seed at next week’s CCAA Championship in Stockton, and remain in the hunt for a share of the regular-season title. CSUSB, in 10th place in the 11-team league, fell to 12-35 overall and 10-27 in league play with a sixth successive loss.
The Tritons struck three times in the second inning on a first-pitch, two-run double down the left field line by redshirt freshman rightfielder Brandon Shirley and an RBI single by sophomore third baseman Troy Cruz (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista HS). Brett Levy walked, Jack Larsen singled and Garrett Tuck sacrificed ahead of Shirley.
In the third, back-to-back RBI singles by Tuck and Shirley with two away gave the Tritons a 5-0 lead after a one-out Michael Mann double, groundout and walk to Larsen. Another two-out, run-scoring base hit, this one by Levy, pushed the bulge to 6-0 in the fourth.
CSUSB returned the favor to some small extent by getting its only two runs of the afternoon with two outs as well, in the home half of the fourth. An infield single by Remington Miller sent in Nick Oddo, who had doubled with one away. Trevor McMaster then came through with an RBI double to right. With Coyotes at first and second after a hit-by-pitch, sophomore right-hander Justin Donatella got Aaron Beckley to fly out to maintain a four-run edge at 6-2 for his side.
UCSD immediately capitalized on back-to-back walks to Tuck and Shirley by new CSUSB pitcher Dylan Mitchell to open the fifth. With Richard Mount taking over on the mound, a passed ball put both Tritons in scoring position, ahead of a right-sided RBI groundout by junior second baseman Erik Lewis and a sacrifice fly by Cruz.
Cruz initiated the final run of the day with his double to the gap in left center to open the eighth. He moved to third on Nick La Face’s groundout and sprinted home on a wild pitch.
Donatella (7-2) allowed two runs on six hits and no walks over 4.0 innings, striking out one. He retired the side in order in the first on a pair of ground balls around a strikeout, and did the same in the third, earning the winning decision despite not completing five frames as the Tritons broke the game up with Donatella on a strict pitch count. David Hart took over and threw the next two frames, including a 1-2-3 sixth. Chad Rieser tossed the seventh and cleaned up a one-out infield single by inducing a 4-6-3 double play started by Lewis. Dan Kolodin and Javier Carrillo, Jr. also contributed with a scoreless inning of their own, each notching a strikeout.
Cruz finished 3-for-5 with a double, run scored, two RBI and his team-leading eighth stolen base on 10 attempts. In the eighth and ninth positions in the order, Tuck and Shirley combined to go 4-for-7 with a double, two walks, three runs and four RBI. Justin Rahn added a pair of hits. Larsen scored twice.
“This was a great team win,” summed up UCSD head coach Eric Newman. “We got contributions from a lot of guys, and our bullpen really did a nice job putting up zeroes and passing the baton.”
Coyote starter Ruben Rios (2-4) took the loss, allowing six runs on 10 hits and four walks over four innings. Miller and William Ouellette both had three hits.
UCSD and Cal State San Bernardino continue their series with another single game at Fiscalini Field on Friday at 3 p.m.
Triton Notes: Troy Cruz is the only Triton to start all 43 games, with 10 coming on the mound ... Justin Donatella drew his 10th start of 2014 and 11th of his career on the mound ... Donatella finished the league slate 7-1 with a no-decision ... Nick La Face’s two walks increased his league-best total to 39 ... The Tritons improved to 22-3 when tallying at least six runs in a game, and are now 15-4 in CCAA road contests in 2014 … UCSD has reached the 30-win mark for the second time in head coach Eric Newman’s three years in charge.