STOCKTON, Calif. – UC San Diego dropped the opener at the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championships to Humboldt State, 2-1, at Arnaiz Stadium Friday. The Tritons received a quality start from Alexis Edwards inside the circle, but were limited to three hits in the loss.
UCSD falls to 33-15 overall following the loss, while HSU improves to 44-13. The Tritons have now dropped 11-straight decisions to HSU.
The Tritons move to an elimination game tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. against No. 3 Cal State Monterey Bay, who fell in the earlier game to Sonoma State 4-2 in 14 innings.
Edwards kept the Tritons in the game throughout the night after limiting the prolific HSU offense to five hits in six innings. The sophomore lefty allowed two earned runs and struck out four in her 13th complete game of the season. She falls to 18-8 on the year.
“We started out on fire with the first run in the opening inning, which I thought was a great way to set the table and thought we were really going to come out put some runs up on the board,” noted head coach Patti Gerckens about the strong first inning. “Unfortunately, we aren’t getting those key hits. Humboldt made a couple nice plays on us and it just didn’t work out tonight.”
Grant, who didn’t play in the CCAA four-game series in Arcata, made an impact immediately in the opening inning with a leadoff double to start the game. After slapping a liner into left center, Grant reached third following an error on Caitlin Brown’s sacrifice bunt attempt to put runners on first and third. The Tritons, who rank second in the conference in stolen bases, pulled off a double steal of second and home to plate the game’s first run and jump ahead 1-0.
After holding the ‘Jacks scoreless for two frames, HSU grabbed the lead in the bottom of the third with two runs on three hits. With two outs and a runner on first, the CCAA Freshman of the Year Tiffany Hollingsworth doubled off the right field wall to knot the game at one. Dani Randall followed with a sharp single up the middle on a 0-2 pitch to put HSU up 2-1.
“I think one or two of those pitches got away from her (Edwards) and Humboldt capitalized on it,” said Gerckens about the third inning. “That’s the difference, a pitcher will miss her spot on occasion and sometimes you get away with it and sometimes you don’t.”
HSU threatened in the bottom half of the sixth after a walk and an error put runners on first and second to start the inning. A dropped third strike advanced the runners to second and third before Mya Romero gunned a runner out at home for the second out. The Tritons recorded the final out to keep the score 2-1 with an Edwards induced groundout.
Despite the swing in momentum, the Tritons were shut out in the final frame. A two-out single from Clewett kept the inning alive, but the ‘Jacks sealed the win with a lineout to center field.
UCSD, who fell in the 2013 CCAA opener and still reached the championship game, will need to win two games tomorrow to advance for a chance at the title.
“Our athletes know how to win, even after they lose” said Gerckens about facing elimination tomorrow. “They’ll come back with a vengeance tomorrow knowing the season might be on the line. They’re going to do everything they can to keep their season going as long as it can go.”
The first game will feature No. 3 CSUMB, which will mark the first meeting between the two teams. The CCAA series during the regular season was rained out in La Jolla.