PHOENIX, Ariz. -
The 22nd-ranked UC San Diego baseball team rallied from a 4-2 deficit late and fended off an even later comeback attempt to nip Grand Canyon University, 8-7, in the middle game of a non-conference series at Brazell Stadium on Saturday night.
With the series clincher in a three-game set, UCSD improved to 4-1 overall. Grand Canyon fell to 0-2. The Tritons had won Friday night's opener, 10-5.
Down 4-2, UCSD sent 10 men to the plate and struck for six runs in the eighth, the final four coming after two outs were made. A two-run home run by Richard Seigel tied the game at 4-4, with a go-ahead RBI single by Danny Susdorf and three-run double by Justin Rahn giving the Tritons an 8-4 cushion. GCU still managed to bring the potential game-winning run to the plate in the ninth, but UCSD was able to turn the ‘Lopes away as catcher Nick La Face threw out a pinch-runner trying to steal.
"We didn't play very well to start the game," said second-year UCSD head coach Eric Newman. "The first four innings, we made a lot of mistakes. Our at-bats weren't very good, but we talked about it, and talked about getting some momentum, staying in the game and putting together our best at-bats at the end, in order to turn it around and find ourselves in a position to win the game.
"Fortunately for us, that's what happened. We had some fantastic at-bats in the eighth inning, and even in the ninth. We didn't score (in the ninth), but we still had good at-bats."
The host Antelopes scored first with a single run in the opening frame. Sophomore right-hander Dan Kolodin issued a two-out walk and third baseman Derek Mendoza made him pay, sending an RBI triple to left center.
A one-out triple down the right field line by junior DH Scott Liske in his first at-bat of the season moved the Tritons 90 feet away from answering in the third. After a strikeout, Susdorf's team-best fourth double already of 2013 to the gap in left center indeed knotted the score. The knock also extended the senior All-American's career-best hit streak to 22 games dating back to a year ago.
Mendoza led off the home fourth with a double, and after a flyout, called third strike and walk by Kolodin, Harlyn Griffiths' single to left regained a one-run edge for GCU.
The fifth began with a walk drawn by senior third baseman Sam Michaels. Freshman ‘Lopes starter Andrew Naderer then got Liske swinging. A sacrifice and Susdorf infield single later, there were Tritons at the corners, but junior shortstop Dillon Moyer flied out to end the inning.
After Kolodin got the first two outs of the home fifth, covering first himself on the latter ground ball, Michael Pomeroy singled for GCU, only for Susdorf to fire to second baseman Garrett Tuck to deny him a double for the third out.
UCSD got back at it in the sixth as La Face reached on an infield error ahead of a walk issued to Seigel. Following a pitching change, Tuck fouled out, but another infield miscue by the ‘Lopes allowed Michaels to get aboard and La Face to sprint home with the tying run. Michaels' first steal of the year and a Liske walk loaded the bases, but a lineout kept the ledger even at 2-2.
With two gone, a runner at first and junior left-hander Rahn on for Kolodin in the home sixth, a double by leftfielder Brandon Smith put a pair of Antelopes in scoring position, with Griffiths sending them both home with a single up the middle.
Rahn retired the first two batters in the home seventh, but after issuing a base on balls, junior right-hander Blake Fassler came on and struck Mendoza out swinging.
Then came the UCSD eighth as La Face put a leadoff double into the gap in right center and Seigel followed with his second home run of the season to right field on a 2-2 pitch from ‘Lopes reliever Hunter Herdt (0-1).
With Tritons on first and second and two outs, Susdorf came through with a clutch RBI single to right to plate freshman outfielder Gradeigh Sanchez. Susdorf promptly stole second ahead of a walk to Moyer to load the bases. With all-conference closer Mark Jarrett on as the fourth GCU hurler of the frame, Rahn's double to left suddenly gained his side considerable separation at 8-4.
Grand Canyon made things interesting late for a second straight night, only in vain for a second straight night. The ‘Lopes pulled back a run on a leadoff shot by Steven Swingle in their eighth, and added a pair of unearned runs in the ninth. With Swingle back up as the potential game-winner, La Face threw to Moyer to cut down pinch-runner Nick Chapman trying to swipe second base as the tying run, to end the game.
Tony Cruz, a true freshman from Chula Vista, threw the final 1.2 innings for his first save, striking out three to make a winner out of Fassler (1-0).
Making just his second collegiate start, Kolodin went 5.0 innings and allowed two runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out two. He pitched a perfect second.
Seigel wound up a perfect 2-for-2 for three walks, the big home run, a run scored, two RBI and a steal. Susdorf was 3-for-5 with a double, run, two RBI and a steal.
"(Seigel) is really buying into the approach and the role that this team needs him to play," remarked Newman about his slugger. "It's been three great games in a row for him, and it's been fun to watch. Justin Rahn, Nick La Face and Richard Seigel (3-4-5 batters) have bought into their roles as run-producers, and being those threats both in terms of extra-base hits and walks, and we are starting to see all of it happen. I'm excited with where we're at and how we're playing."
In his college debut, Naderer gave up two runs, only one of them earned, on four hits and three walks over 5.1 innings. The left-hander struck out five. He kept everything on the infield over the first 2.1 frames prior to Liske's triple.
UCSD and Grand Canyon conclude the three-game set on Sunday, Feb. 10. First pitch at Brazell Stadium is set for 11 a.m. PT before the Tritons load up the bus and head back to La Jolla to begin a five-game homestand.
Triton Notes: UCSD is 35-20 all-time against Grand Canyon, and has won 10 consecutive meetings in Phoenix ... Garrett Tuck started for the 77th consecutive game and made his 84th straight appearance ... Nick La Face drew his 62nd consecutive start ... Seniors Sam Michaels and James Mossholder each made their second start of the season, at third base and right field, respectively ... Coming off of off-season shoulder surgery, junior Scott Liske made his season debut as the starting Triton DH ... Liske's third-inning triple was the fourth of his career ... Danny Susdorf has moved into the top-10 all-time at UCSD (10th) with 45 career doubles ... Susdorf handled five chances cleanly in center field, including his first assist of 2013, to extend his defensive streak without an error to his last 177 chances and 72 games dating back to April 29, 2011 ... Dan Kolodin's start of 5.0 innings marked the longest outing of his college career ... Justin Rahn made his second collegiate pitching appearance in relief of Kolodin, moving to the mound from left field to begin the bottom of the sixth ... Richard Seigel's home run was his team-leading second of the year and sixth as a Triton ... Seigel has five extra-base hits (two home runs, two triples and a double, 1.636 SLG%), over his past three games ... Gradeigh Sanchez earned his first collegiate at-bats and Andrew Hobson made his college debut as an eighth-inning pinch-runner, with the latter true freshman registering his first career run ... Spencer Frazier's ninth-inning at-bat was his first of the season ... The six-run eighth was UCSD's biggest inning to date in 2013.
-- UCSDtritons.com --