Photo by: Brad Loper
Michael Palos took over behind the plate in the sixth inning and made an impact.

No. 7 Tritons Blaze Past San Diego Christian in Exhibition Finale, 8-1


LA JOLLA, Calif. - Seventh-ranked University of California San Diego got ample amounts of hitting and pitching to defeat San Diego Christian College, 8-1, in an exhibition baseball game at Triton Ballpark on Wednesday night.

Nine UC San Diego pitchers each went one full frame and combined to fan 15. Together with the Tritons' first tune-up over the weekend, an 8-7 loss to Hope International, the UCSD staff struck out 32 over 18 innings of exhibition action.

The hitters, meanwhile, drew 12 walks and broke a 4-1 game open through a four-run eighth. That inning was highlighted by two-run doubles into the right and left field corners, respectively, by Justin Beck and Michael Palos.

San Diego Christian, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC), tallied its lone unearned run in the seventh after an infield throwing error to lead things off and subsequent walk, wild pitch and RBI groundout.

Freshman shortstop Shay Whitcomb, who was held out of the HIU game, went 2-for-6 with a double and run scored from the leadoff spot. Beck was 2-for-3 with a double of his own, two walks, two runs and two RBI. Junior first baseman Tyler Durna finished 1-for-2 with a game-high three walks and a run scored. Redshirt sophomore leftfielder Steven Schuknecht wound up 1-for-3 with a triple, two walks, two runs and an RBI. Palos came off the bench in the sixth and contributed a walk and a two-run double in two at-bats.

UC San Diego struck first with a run in the opening frame as Whitcomb doubled inside the left field line for starters, moved to third on an infield single by Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS), and scored on a double-play ground ball.

The Tritons added a pair in the fourth. Beck drew a leadoff walk and Schuknecht inside-outted the first pitch he saw to the opposite field and into the gap in left center for an RBI triple. After another base on balls, junior centerfielder Christopher Schasteen drilled a hard liner to center for a sacrifice fly.

In the sixth, it became 4-0 thanks to a pair of redshirt freshmen, who both had come into the game defensively in the top half. New centerfielder Brandon Stewart walked to lead off, expertly sprinted to second and then third on a pair of wild pitches, and scored easily on a sharp one-out single to center by Blake Baumgartner.

The eighth-inning rally was started by another redshirt freshman, Aaron Kim, who poked a single through the middle with one gone. Durna's third free pass was followed by a strikeout, but with two away, Beck laced his double just inside the line in right for 6-1. Schuknecht worked the count full and took his base, before Palos did the same and lined his two-bagger into the other corner.

On the pitching side, Preston Mott drew the start. The Hawks loaded the bases on two hits and a walk, but the junior left-hander got out of it with a called third strike.

Senior right-hander Jack Rupe, Jr. (San Marcos/Mission Hills HS), put two runners on in the second in between two groundouts to Whitcomb, before fielding a soft check-swinger toward the first-base side and registering the third out of the inning.

Senior right-hander Mitch Hickey, a first-year transfer from Oregon State, impressed in his second exhibition outing in the third, as he again struck out the side, this time in order, and all swinging. In punching out six of the seven batters he faced this week, he threw 30 pitches, 20 of them strikes.

Junior right-handers Jonah Dipoto and Kyle Lucke took the next two frames with one base-runner and two strikeouts apiece. Redshirt junior right-hander Cameron Kurz (Encinitas/La Costa Canyon HS) produced two impressive breaking-ball called third strikes in the sixth around a walk and a fielder's choice comebacker.

Senior Tom Simpson handled the seventh, with redshirt freshman Antonio Barrios breezing through a 1-2-3 eighth on a lineout, called third strike and flyout. Mark Quinby navigated around a one-out single in the ninth, with two final strikeouts.

After its annual alumni game on Friday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m., UC San Diego will open the new campaign as the reigning NCAA Division II West Region champion and 2017 national runner-up, at Concordia Irvine on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m. The home opener against No. 4 Colorado Mesa is slated for a 1 p.m. start the following afternoon on Friday, Feb. 9, at Triton Ballpark on East Campus in La Jolla.


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