The 14th-ranked University of California San Diego is off to Azusa on Wednesday afternoon, May 17, for the 50th edition of the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship. The six-team, double-elimination West Regional runs Thursday through Monday, May 18-22, with Azusa Pacific University the host at Cougar Baseball Complex. The fourth-seeded Tritons (36-17, 24-13 CCAA) open the tournament against 10th-ranked and third-seeded Dixie State (37-12-1, 26-9-1 PacWest), of St. George, Utah, in primetime at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 18.
The other opening-round games include ninth-ranked and second-seeded host APU (40-10, 27-9 PacWest) against 15th-ranked and fifth-seeded Pacific West Conference (PacWest) foe California Baptist (34-16, 25-11 PacWest) to kick things off at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Third-ranked top seed Chico State (45-9, 34-4 CCAA), the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season and tournament champion and automatic qualifier, goes up against two-time defending West Region victor, CCAA rival and No. 6 seed Cal Poly Pomona (33-20, 27-11) at 3 p.m.
Should UCSD win Thursday, it would play again at 7 p.m. Friday night against the winner between APU and CBU. If the Tritons fall to the Trailblazers, they would face elimination Friday at 3 p.m. against the winner between Chico State and CPP. The West Regional championship game is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Monday, May 22. An if-necessary nightcap would start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of that contest. No games will be played on Sunday.
UCSD is 18-8 this season outside of La Jolla. The Tritons are 5-6 against the five squads participating in the West Regional, having only faced league foes Chico State (3-2) and CPP (2-4). The 56-team field for the 2017 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship is broken up into eight regionals of either six, seven or eight teams, across the country. The eight regional winners head to a new location this year after eight straight years in Cary, N.C., with The Ballpark in Grand Prairie playing host in Grand Prairie, Texas.
The Tritons are second in the CCAA in batting (.314), mere percentage points behind Chico State (.314), third in team ERA (3.82), and second in fielding percentage (.973). UCSD leads the league in several offensive categories, including runs (401), home runs (49) and walks (249).
TICKET PRICES AND PARKING
Single-day ticket prices are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and military with identification and seniors 55 and older. Children aged two and younger will be admitted free. Tickets are good for day-of-games only, and will be available for purchase 60 minutes prior to the start of the first game each day. Parking will be available in Lot A, about 50 yards north of Cougar Baseball Complex.
All games of the West Regional will feature live stats and a live video stream with audio commentary, free of charge with no subscription required, courtesy of APU Athletics here. Veteran Chico State play-by-play voice Michael Baca will also be on hand for audio calls of the top-seeded Wildcats' activity here. Fans can access all live coverage from the UCSD Schedule/Results page. Starting lineups, live updates and other gameday news and notes can be found by following Triton Baseball on the UCSD Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons). Tune in to the #NCAAD2West hashtag throughout the week.
UCSD will be making its ninth NCAA Division II Championship appearance, with a previous record of 21-16 (.568). The Tritons are back in the field, at 56 teams this year, for the third time in four years and fourth in six seasons under head coach Eric Newman. Prior to their return in 2014 after a one-year hiatus in 2013, they made six straight trips from 2007-12. Triton Ballpark has hosted the West Regional twice, in 2011 and 2014, with Sonoma State and Chico State advancing, respectively. UCSD finished 3-2 both at home in 2014 and in Walnut in 2015, reaching the finals both times. The Tritons lost twice to West Region champion Chico State in 2014, and then battled back from dropping their 2015 opener to APU with three wins, before dropping the final to host CPP, 7-4. UCSD went 1-2 in its previous appearance under Newman in 2012, losing twice to this Thursday night's opponent, Dixie State, in Keizer, Ore. The Tritons last advanced out of the West Regional in 2010, with three consecutive wins over Hawai'i Pacific, Cal State Dominguez Hills and HPU in Compton at the MLB Urban Youth Academy. UCSD moved on to the NCAA Championship in Cary, N.C., and finished as the national runner-up, a program best. UCSD also advanced out of the West in 2009 in Keizer, Ore., with wins over Cal State Dominguez Hills, Western Oregon and Sonoma State. The Tritons fell in the national semifinal game to Emporia State that season to finish third overall. UCSD previously went 9-15 (.375) over five trips (1986-87-89-92-94) to the NCAA Division III Championship, also with a pair of regional crowns in 1987 and 1994.
THE FIELD BY THE NUMBERS
Thursday's opening-round matchup for UCSD pits it against the top hitting team in the West, with Dixie State in fact ranked fourth nationally with a .343 average. By all accounts and measures, Cougar Baseball Complex is an offense-friendly park, so look for a lot of runs and home runs this week. That should suit the Tritons (.314) just fine, as they have scored the most runs of anyone in the field (401), and are second only behind host APU's 71, with 49 long balls. That total includes 22 over the last 10 games, with at least one in each of those contests, and multiple blasts in eight. UCSD's .973 fielding percentage is second among this week's teams, behind only national leader Chico State's .984, with CPP bringing up the rear at .963. APU is fifth in D-II with a 2.93 ERA.
UCSD AGAINST THE #NCAAD2WEST FIELD
|1. CSUC||2. APU||3. DSU||5. CBU||6. CPP|
|Series||(45-9, 34-4)||(40-10, 27-9)||(37-12-1, 26-9-1)||(34-16, 25-11)||(33-20, 27-11)|
UCSD was at No. 24 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper NCAA Division II preseason top 40 (Dec. 21), and surged up to No. 7 in the first in-season edition on Feb. 27. The Tritons were No. 5 on March 20, a season-best No. 4 on April 10, and now at No. 14. They did not appear in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and Perfect Game preseason listings, and are currently No. 23 and No. 22, respectively, in those polls. UCSD was No. 24 in the D2 Baseball News preseason ranking, up as high as No. 2 on April 10, and now No. 11.
|Tritons in the Polls|
|Collegiate Baseball Newspaper||No. 14||May 15||Poll||N/A|
|D2 Baseball News||No. 11||May 16||Poll||N/A|
|NCBWA||No. 23||May 16||Poll||No. 4|
|Perfect Game||No. 22||May 17||Poll||N/A|
LAST TIME OUT
UCSD was runner-up at the 2017 CCAA Championship at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton last week. After topping Stanislaus State 6-1 in Wednesday night's opener behind Troy Cruz (8.0 IP, 9 K) and three long home runs, the Tritons dropped a gut-wrencher to Cal Poly Pomona, 9-8 in 11 innings. They still almost made it all the way back from the loser's bracket, winning two elimination games on Friday and then forcing a winner-take-all second meeting with top seed Chico State on Saturday by virtue of a 13-4 thrashing. In that initial triumph over Chico, Preston Mott twirled seven strong innings with seven strikeouts and no walks, on his birthday. UCSD fell just short, however, of a record seventh tourney banner, falling 12-5 to the repeat champion 'Cats. For the second straight week, UCSD blasted 11 home runs, with five in the first five games from Jack Larsen, two mammoth shots by Alex Eliopulos, and the first two of true freshman Chad Crosbie's career. Despite placing second, Larsen's incredible weekend (.520, 1.320 slugging, five doubles, five home runs, 13 RBI) warranted a Co-Most Outstanding Player distinction, with Cruz, Crosbie and Kyle Goodbrand joining him on the All-Tournament Team. Goodbrand took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in Friday's first game, a 16-6 rout of Cal State LA. Crosbie wound up with eight RBI.
CCAA CHAMPIONSHIP RECORDS
UCSD put on an offensive tour de force in Stockton, breaking records for the tournament's 19-year history in hits (76), home runs (11) and walks (37), shattering the latter mark which previously stood at 25. The Tritons also bested their own event record in single-game walks, drawing 12 in the 16-6 battering of Cal State LA in an elimination contest on Friday, May 12. The standard had been 11. Jack Larsen equaled the tournament record with 13 hits, previously achieved by Chris McAllen of Cal State San Bernardino all the way back in 2002. He would have held marks for home runs and RBI, too, if not for Co-MOP and fellow senior Dillon Kelley of repeat champion Chico State, who used three home runs, including a grand slam, and six RBI, against UCSD in Saturday's winner-take-all final, to finish with six long balls and 15 RBI. The records had been three home runs and 12 RBI. Among the host of Triton superlatives, Tyler Durna matched the CCAA Championship record for walks in a tournament, with eight, and actually twice equaled the single-game mark of three, against both Cal State LA and Chico State in Saturday's first meeting.
TORRID LARSEN SAVING BEST FOR LAST
Jack Larsen went 13-for-25 (.520) and slugged 1.320 during UCSD's run at the CCAA Championship in Stockton. He produced five doubles and five home runs among his 13 hits, drove in 13 runs, and scored nine. He walked six times and struck out just once, while handling all 16 of his defensive chances cleanly with a pair of outfield assists. Though the Tritons fell shy in the final, his performance warranted a Co-Most Outstanding Player distinction, and on Monday he was among seven Collegiate Baseball Newspaper (CBN) National Players of the Week, the only one from the D-II ranks. Remarkably, Larsen hit exactly one double and one home run in each of UCSD's first five games of the tournament. The streak of five straight games with a home run is likely to be a program standard, but that category is not included in the record book. Larsen has reached base safely in 35 consecutive games and knocked in 24 runs over his last 10 contests. His career-best 14 home runs, having entered the season with 12, are tied for first in the CCAA, and outnumber the 13 that the Tritons managed as a team for the entirety of the 2016 campaign. Larsen also leads the league in on-base percentage (.484), runs (55), RBI (58) and walks (43), and is second in slugging percentage (.672), tied for fourth in doubles (17), and tied for fifth in hits (68).
CCAA RECOGNITION FOR SEVEN
Seven Tritons received some type of postseason recognition from the CCAA ahead of the conference tournament last week. Tyler Durna was the lone All-CCAA First Team selection, at first base, as the only sophomore among 17 honorees. The senior quartet of JD Hearn, Jack Larsen, Adrian Orozco and Brandon Shirley all made the 17-player second team, while newcomers Alex Eliopulos and Kyle Goodbrand picked up All-CCAA honorable mention. Larsen was the only one of the seven with prior All-CCAA distinction, through back-to-back first-team selections.
FOURTH STRAIGHT POSTSEASON FOR TRITONS
The results of Saturday, April 22, clinched a fourth straight CCAA Championship berth for UCSD, and fifth postseason appearance in head coach Eric Newman's six years in charge. The Tritons have made trips to Stockton for the CCAA Championship in all four years, with a record sixth banner in 2014 and a runner-up showing last week. UCSD has also qualified for the NCAA West Regional in three of four years, with back-to-back finalist efforts in 2014 and 2015.
DURNA LOCKED IN
Sophomore first baseman Tyler Durna is fourth in the league with his .376 batting average. After beginning the year 1-for-11 to see that mark at .091, the Chino Hills native has really turned it on, going 64-for-162 (.395) with 10 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 38 RBI over the Tritons' last 44 games, all of them starts at first. He has reached base in all but one of them and produced at least one hit in 38, including 28 straight from March 4-April 29 for UCSD's best hit streak of the Division II era, going back at least through the 2001 season. Durna had multiple hits in 16 of those 28 contests. He is fifth in the CCAA in slugging (.590) and fourth in on-base percentage (.471).
LARSEN JOINS 200-HIT CLUB
Jack Larsen has appeared in 117 consecutive games, all of them starts in either right or center field. The series finale against CSUSB on May 6 marked his 200th game played. His third home run of 2017, a solo blast with two outs in the second inning of the March 17 doubleheader nightcap at SF State, gave him 200 hits for his four-year Triton career. Larsen, who has worn the No. 16 jersey throughout his days on the La Jolla campus, thus became the 16th player in program history to achieve that milestone. He now has 244 hits, seventh-most in program history, with 26 of them home runs, tied for fifth all-time. Larsen's first long ball of the year was a three-run shot at Concordia Irvine (2/11), pushing him over the 100 RBI mark. He now has 153, No. 7 at UCSD. He is also third all-time with 131 walks, including a league- and West-best 43 this season, 10th nationally. Larsen successfully stole second base on his first attempt of 2017 (2/12), to make him 21-for-21 in steals as a Triton, prior to finally getting caught for the first time in the fourth inning of a doubleheader nightcap against Western Oregon (2/16). He has a team-best six outfield assists, increasing his career total to 19, a record for UCSD's D-II era. Larsen has handled all 134 defensive chances cleanly in 2017, and 165 straight going back to his last error on April 23, 2016.
Tyler Durna's 28-game hit streak that was snapped in the seven-inning doubleheader nightcap and series finale against Cal State LA, was the best in UCSD's Division II era (since 2001), and tied for third-longest in the unofficial CCAA record book. He was intentionally walked in his final at-bat of that contest in the seventh, and extended his reached-base streak to 41 before going 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly against CPP on May 12. That stretch matched Jeff Riddle's run in 2004 for the program's best of the D-II days. Jack Larsen, meanwhile, had his career-best 12-game hit streak also ended in that game with CSULA. He, too, advanced his reached-base streak, via walk, and is now at 35 straight.
UCSD has 49 home runs this season, including 11 in each of the past two weeks, first in a four-game series against Cal State San Bernardino to wrap the regular season, and then in six contests at the CCAA Championship. The Tritons top the CCAA thanks to this late-season surge that has seen the Tritons hit at least one long ball in 10 consecutive games, with multiple blasts in eight of them, and 24 in all over this stretch. Coming over 53 games, this is the most home runs by a UCSD squad since the Tritons blasted 60 over 62 contests in 2010. The 49 blasts are more than what UCSD managed in the last three years combined (47), and is the fourth-largest single-season total in the program's D-II history. The Tritons had not hit more than 17 over the last four years. Jack Larsen leads the team and is tied for first in the CCAA with his career-best 14 home runs, with Tyler Durna and JD Hearn at seven apiece.
TRITONS STRONG IN AO STARTS
UCSD is 10-3 in Adrian Orozco starts, with six wins in series clinchers and four in rubber games. He had earned the winning decision in five consecutive starts prior to taking a no decision in the Tritons' 2-1 loss in the seven-inning doubleheader nightcap at Cal Poly Pomona on April 15. Orozco is 8-0 over his 13 starts and 75.2 innings, with a 3.09 ERA and 57 strikeouts. Orozco paces the team in wins, innings, strikeouts and strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.07). The Chula Vista product has gone at least 5.0 innings in every outing. Check out the April 7 San Diego Union-Tribune feature on him here.
IRON MAN TY
Fourth-year senior Tyler Howsley has appeared in 162 consecutive games for UC San Diego, dating back to Opening Day in 2015. He had started 111 straight contests, all at shortstop, before coming off of the bench in the doubleheader nightcap with Concordia (OR) on Feb. 4. The first game of the May 6 doubleheader against CSUSB marked his 200th career appearance. In the fifth inning of game one of the March 17 doubleheader at SF State, Howsley was credited with his first error since Feb. 5, snapping a string of 75 consecutive defensive chances handled cleanly. He is tied for second in the CCAA and 13th nationally with 12 sacrifice hits. Howsley's 33 career sacrifices have moved him ahead of another great Triton shortstop, Vance Albitz, for the most in UCSD's Division II era (since 2001). His first career home run was in fact a grand slam (watch) to erase a 3-0 deficit in the fourth inning of a come-from-behind 10-8 win over CSUDH (4/22).
BIG SENIOR SEASON FOR SHIRLEY
Fifth-year senior centerfielder Brandon Shirley went 10-for-19 and posted multiple hits in all four games of the Cal State San Marcos series, Feb. 23-25, scoring six times with two doubles, a triple and three RBI. He is currently hitting .338, leads the team with 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts, and has handled all but two of his 137 chances cleanly in center (.985), including five outfield assists. Shirley in fact has produced single-season career bests in a number of categories, including average, runs (44), hits (66), home runs (4), RBI (35), steals and fielding percentage.
Fifth-year senior Troy Cruz made his return to the diamond in the Feb. 5 series finale with Concordia (OR). The 2014 All-American and three-time All-CCAA pick out of Chula Vista, who was limited to just three appearances in 2016 before being shut down due to injury, flamed through the top of the ninth inning, striking out the side before earning the win as UCSD rallied with three runs in the home half. Cruz threw just 12 pitches, nine of them for strikes. He picked up another winning decision in his second relief outing at Concordia Irvine (2/11). On Feb. 24, Cruz tossed a scoreless ninth for his first save since his freshman year back on Feb. 28, 2013. He added a second save with two shutout frames at Cal State East Bay (3/4), and wins at SF State (3/17) and Stanislaus State (4/1), the latter through four complete innings of scoreless relief. Cruz threw up four more zeroes for a save and combined shutout against No. 1 Chico State (4/8). He returned to the rotation on April 20, and of his three starts, has won the last three. Cruz scattered two hits over 7.0 scoreless frames at Cal State LA (4/27), and got the Tritons off to a rolling start to the postseason with season bests of nine strikeouts over 8.0 innings in their CCAA tourney opener (5/10).
MORE HAPPY RETURNS
During game one of the March 11 doubleheader against Cal State Monterey Bay, Kyle Goodbrand made his return to the mound, having been hit in the face by a hard liner in the Feb. 16 nightcap versus Western Oregon. He then tossed 3.2 no-hit frames, retiring 11 of 12 batters faced, again in relief at SF State (3/16), before notching his first winning decision as a Triton with five more shutout innings in a starting role versus Sonoma State (3/25). Fellow redshirt junior right-hander John Erhardt took the hill in the finale at SF State (3/17) for 0.2 innings, having made just two appearances, both starts, in 2016 before being shut down and eventually having Tommy John surgery. Erhardt was the Tritons' Opening Day starter a season ago. He had not pitched in a game since a short stint at Cal Poly Pomona on March 21, 2016.
Kyle Goodbrand's most recent start, marking his first postseason appearance as a Triton, was an absolute gem, as the redshirt junior right-hander took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a 16-6 demolition of Cal State LA in a CCAA Championship elimination game on Friday, May 12. After getting a flyout to begin that frame, a pinch-hit single up the middle ended the bid. An infield error ended Goodbrand's afternoon, with both runners ultimately coming around to score, only the first one earned. It was his longest outing of the season, and improved his win-loss record to 4-0.
THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
UCSD is 36-10 in 2017 in games in which it scores three or more runs, after finishing the 2016 season at 30-6 in such contests. The Tritons won their first 16 games a year ago when tallying at least three, and first 13 this season prior to an 8-6 defeat to CSUMB in 10 innings on March 11. Conversely, they are 0-7 in 2017 when managing fewer than three runs. UCSD was 1-15 with two runs or less last season. The Tritons have produced five runs or more in 35 of their 36 wins in the current campaign.
UCSD AMONG D-II STATISTICAL LEADERS
UCSD is fourth in the NCAA Division II in sacrifice flies (35), seventh in walks (249), ninth in sacrifice bunts (58) and fielding percentage (.973), 14th in double plays (48), 18th in hits (567), 21st in runs (401), 22nd in double plays per game (0.91), 29th in scoring (7.6 runs per game), 32nd in win-loss percentage (.679), 34th in on-base percentage (.406), 43rd in average (.314) and doubles (104), and 45th in home runs (49). The Triton pitching staff ranks 31st in ERA (3.82), 35th in walks allowed per nine innings (3.10) and 44th in WHIP (1.38).
UCSD finished with a series record in 2017 of 11-2-1. The Tritons had sweeps over Western Oregon (shortened 2-0), Cal State San Marcos (4-0) and SF State (3-0). They began the year with back-to-back 3-1 victories over Concordia (OR) and Concordia Irvine, added one of the come-from-behind variety against Cal State Dominguez Hills, and another most recently against CSUSB. UCSD topped Cal State Monterey Bay, Sonoma State and Chico State at home and Stanislaus State on the road, 2-1, all four after having lost game one. The lone split (1-1) came in a shortened set at Cal State East Bay, with 3-1 losses to CCAA South foes Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State LA. The Tritons are the only team to beat repeat league champion Chico State (11-1-1) in a series.
HOME SWEET HOME
UCSD finished 18-9 in La Jolla in 2017. The Tritons reached 20 home wins for the second time under sixth-year head coach Eric Newman a season ago, going 22-9. The Tritons are 113-56 (.669) at Triton Ballpark under Newman.
FIRST WIN OVER NO. 1 SINCE 2009
UCSD's 7-0 shutout of Chico State in game two of the April 8 doubleheader in La Jolla marked its first win over the top-ranked team in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll since March 15, 2009, when the No. 23 Tritons completed a four-game home sweep over No. 1 Cal State Stanislaus, 6-5. Scores of the first three games on March 13 and 14 were 3-2 (11), 8-3 and 6-0. UCSD had last played a top-10 side a year ago, knocking off No. 10 Cal Poly Pomona, 6-2, in a non-conference meeting in La Jolla on Feb. 14.
LOTS OF STRIKEOUTS
Redshirt senior Adrian Orozco's 12-strikeout performance on March 12 against visiting Cal State Monterey Bay, was the best of his career at any level. It was the most strikeouts by a Triton, and in fact the first double-digit output, since former All-American ace Justin Donatella also had a dozen in a home meeting with CSUMB on April 10, 2015. The total fell one shy of matching Donatella's single-game record for the program's Division II era (since 2001), from 2014. Four Triton arms combined for 16 punchouts against the Otters, the team's first double-digit effort of 2017 and most since another 16 in the 2012 opener in La Jolla against Western Oregon on Feb. 3.
NINE-GAME WIN STREAK
The 6-1 loss in game two of the March 4 doubleheader at Cal State East Bay snapped UCSD's nine-game win streak, its longest since a 19-gamer in 2011, from April 9 to May 13.
UCSD has one walk-off victory in 2017, courtesy of redshirt senior Brandon Shirley's two-out, two-run double to plate Chad Crosbie and Steven Coe on Feb. 5. It was Shirley's first career walk-off hit. Coe now has been involved in five, as the winning run in three, and the deciding hit in two.
• Feb. 5: UCSD 9, CU 8 (Watch)
Shirley walked off Concordia (OR) to clinch the season-opening series, his two-out, two-run double finding the base of the wall in left center and chasing freshman pinch-runner Crosbie home ahead of Coe from first for the winner. Coe's RBI single had moved the Tritons back within a run.
UCSD's 11-run fifth at Cal State San Bernardino on May 5 was its largest since an 11-run ninth in a 17-3 win at SF State on April 18, 2014 ... CSUSB's eight-run eighth (5/6) has been the biggest frame against UCSD this year ... The Tritons' five errors on Feb. 5 were there most since being charged with 11 in a 21-10 loss at Cal State East Bay on March 1, 2015 ... UCSD's starters' ERA over the opening weekend was a miniscule 0.47, as Preston Mott, Kyle Mora, Jack Rupe, Jr., and Adrian Orozco combined to allow a solitary earned run over their 19.0 innings ... Ten players have made their college and/or Triton debuts in 2017, all but one over the opening weekend, in Keenan Brigman, Chad Crosbie, Alex Eliopulos, Kyle Goodbrand, Blaine Jarvis, Nick Kitzmann, Jesse Moore, Steven Schuknecht and Ted Stuka, with J.T. Williams returning from injury on March 26 ... UCSD is 5-1 in season openers under Eric Newman and 14-3 since moving to Division II in 2001 ... UCSD is 5-1 in CCAA openers with Newman in charge, with five straight wins after a 4-1 loss to Chico State in La Jolla on Feb. 17, 2012 ... The Tritons are 10-7 in CCAA openers all-time (since 2001), and 10-1 with six splits in sets to begin the league season ... UCSD was picked to place third overall and second in the South in the 2017 CCAA race by the league's head coaches, as announced on Jan. 27, with defending CCAA tournament champion Chico State the favorite for the fifth time in six years.
BRIG'S BIG HITS EARN HIM WEEKLY DISTINCTION
Keenan Brigman went just 2-for-6 in the Chico State series, but those two hits couldn't have been much bigger, driving in five runs and netting the redshirt freshman utility his first CCAA Player of the Week award on April 11. Both knocks came with two outs, to the opposite field in right. Brigman produced a two-run single to round out a five-run first inning in the doubleheader nightcap on April 8, a 7-0 shutout. Then in the rubber game on April 9, his pinch-hit, three-run triple turned a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 advantage in the fifth. UCSD went on to win, 6-4. The San Jose native more than doubled his season RBI output that weekend, from four to nine. Brigman has started at four defensive positions during his first on-the-field season of college baseball (2B, LF, SS, RF).
DURNA A TWO-TIME CCAA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Tyler Durna was named for the first time as the CCAA Player of the Week on March 7, going 4-for-8 with two doubles, a home run, two runs and three RBI in the doubleheader split at Cal State East Bay. The sophomore first baseman picked up his second award on March 28. In the series win over Sonoma State, Durna hit a team-best .545 (6-for-11) and slugged 1.273 with team highs of six runs, two home runs and five RBI. He was 2-for-3 with two home runs, one walk, a career-high four runs and career-high-matching four RBI in the doubleheader nightcap on March 26. It was his first career multi-home run game.
LARSEN A TWO-TIME CCAA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Jack Larsen on Feb. 14 was named UCSD's first CCAA Player of the Week for 2017. He hit .429 (6-for-14) with six runs and five RBI in a 3-1 series victory over Concordia. Larsen launched his first home run of the year, a three-run shot, in a 7-6 win on Feb. 11, and reached base safely in all five plate appearances in a 5-4 decision the next day. He then earned his fifth career award, a program record, on May 9 after knocking in 11 runs, his best ever single-series output, to round out the regular season against Cal State San Bernardino.
UCSD placed second in the CCAA in 2016 behind now-two-time reigning West Region champion Cal Poly Pomona (26-11) with a league mark of 20-17, qualifying for a third consecutive CCAA Championship. The fourth-seeded Tritons had a 31-21 record after a 1-2 showing in Stockton.
UCSD's 39-player 2017 roster features 21 letterwinners, four returning redshirts and 14 newcomers. The Tritons return all but two primary position player starters and all but one starter on the mound. Among those back are fourth-year starters Jack Larsen in the outfield and Tyler Howsley at shortstop. Larsen is a two-time All-CCAA First Team selection who added NCBWA All-West Region honorable mention as a junior, while Howsley has a pair of All-CCAA honorable mentions. Joining them are the likes of senior infielder JD Hearn, veteran outfielders Brandon Shirley and Christian Leung, catcher Steven Coe, Justin Flatt, Tyler Durna and Tim White.
In his sixth season in charge, Eric Newman welcomes back a large bulk of a pitching staff that saw 35 of 52 starts made by true freshmen in 2016. All are in the stable with a full year of college baseball under their belts, that group being made up of Brent Bell, Jonah Dipoto, Kyle Lucke, Kyle Mora and Preston Mott. Bullpen options are Jack Rupe, Jr., Erik Amundson, Cameron Kurz and Tim Nelson.
UCSD will be bolstered by the fifth-year return of Troy Cruz, a 2014 All-American and three-time All-CCAA selection in a dual role as a pitcher and hitter who was only able to make three appearances in 2016 before being shut down due to injury.
There is plenty of excitement for a group of transfers which includes Keenan Brigman (Pacific), Alex Eliopulos (San Diego Mesa College), Kyle Goodbrand (Irvine Valley College), Jesse Moore (Edmonds CC), Adrian Orozco (San Diego State) and J.T. Williams (Mt. Hood CC). Orozco is a former two-year Triton reliever (2013-14) who spent the past two seasons at Southwestern College and SDSU.
UCSD's 2017 regular-season schedule consisted of 47 regular-season games, including 27 at home within the friendly confines of Triton Ballpark. Three were lost to weather. After contesting eight of 10 non-conference dates in La Jolla, the Tritons started league play with a split-venue, four-game sweep over crosstown rival Cal State San Marcos. UCSD bested defending CCAA tournament champion and league favorite Chico State in a three-gamer at home, April 8-9. The Tritons faced two-time reigning region champion and CCAA South favorite Cal Poly Pomona in another split-venue, four-game series, April 13-15. The CCAA Championship was held in the neutral-site city of Stockton for the fifth year in a row, returning to Banner Island Ballpark of the minor-league Stockton Ports, May 10-13. UCSD earned its fourth successive trip.
YOUNG PITCHING FROM 2016 BACK WITH EXPERIENCE
In 2016, 35 of 52 games for UCSD were started on the mound by true freshmen, including all three games of the CCAA Championship. Despite that, the Triton pitching staff compiled an earned-run average of 3.91, good enough for second in the CCAA and 30th nationally in Division II. UCSD has thus placed among the top three in the CCAA in ERA in four of the past five years. All of those arms return, in the form of Brent Bell, Jonah Dipoto, Kyle Lucke, Kyle Mora and Preston Mott.
UCSD continues a tradition of being strong defensively. The Tritons posted a .970 fielding percentage for the second straight year in 2016, leading the CCAA and ranking 20th in Division II. They were second in the CCAA, behind only Cal Poly Pomona (.971), and 21st in Division II, in 2015. UCSD has been in the top 30 nationally and top three in the conference in fielding for each of the past seven seasons. The Tritons were also second in the CCAA (behind Chico State) in 2014 with a .974 clip, and fifth in the country. In 2013, they were second in the league behind Chico State and 11th nationally (.972). They were 29th in Division II in 2012 (.966) and third in the conference. UCSD led the nation with a Division II- and school-record mark of .984 (1611-673-38) in 2010 and was fifth in 2011 (.972), pacing the CCAA both years. No program in the country has even fielded at a .980 rate since 2010.
UCSD returns five all-conference performers from 2016 in fourth-year standouts Jack Larsen (first team for second straight year), Tyler Howsley (honorable mention for second straight year) and Steven Coe (honorable mention), and sophomore right-handers Kyle Mora (second team) and Tim Nelson (honorable mention) ... Larsen also picked up NCBWA All-West Region honorable mention in 2016 ... Howsley and Larsen played together at Mission Viejo's Capistrano Valley High School, as did Nelson and Tyler Durna at Ruben S. Ayala High School in Chino Hills ... All but three players on the 39-man 2017 roster, redshirt junior Tim White (Stratford, CT) and newcomers Jesse Moore (Port Orchard, WA) and J.T. Williams (Eagle, ID), are California natives ... There are seven San Diego products in Steven Coe (Valley Center/Valley Center HS), Troy Cruz (Chula Vista/Bonita Vista HS), Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS), Garrett Henkel (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS), Cameron Kurz (Encinitas/La Costa Canyon HS), Adrian Orozco (Chula Vista/Otay Ranch HS) and Jack Rupe, Jr. (San Marcos/Mission Hills HS) ... Sophomore right-hander Jonah Dipoto is the son of Jerry Dipoto, who pitched eight seasons for three Major League Baseball organizations, and is the general manager of the Seattle Mariners ... Redshirt junior transfer Kyle Goodbrand is the younger brother of former Triton ace Ryan Goodbrand (2012-13) ... Redshirt freshman transfer Keenan Brigman (UOP) is the younger brother of former USD infield standout and current Seattle Mariners minor leaguer Bryson Brigman, a third-round selection in the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft who enters the 2017 season as the club's No. 17 prospect.
HEAD COACH ERIC NEWMAN
Eric Newman is in his sixth season as the UCSD head coach. The 2012 CCAA Coach of the Year has a 200-123 record (143-87 CCAA) in charge of the Tritons and 295-195 overall in his eight-plus seasons as a head coach. Newman guided UCSD to the 2012 CCAA regular-season and tournament titles in his first go-around in La Jolla, and a subsequent trip to the NCAA Division II West Regional. His Tritons won a record sixth conference tourney crown in May of 2014 in Stockton, to again nab the CCAA's automatic bid into the NCAA Championship. With UCSD earning the region's top seed, Triton Ballpark played host to the 2014 NCAA West Regional. Newman has led the Tritons to three CCAA banners and four NCAA postseason berths in his six years, including back-to-back appearances in West Region finals (2014-15), as well as six plus-.500 and five 30-win campaigns. He most recently earned win No. 200 in charge of UCSD against Chico State, 13-4, on the final day of the 2017 CCAA Championship on May 13. Newman won his 100th CCAA contest at home against Cal State San Bernardino, 9-4, on Feb. 26, 2016. He previously went 95-72 in three seasons at the helm of Dallas Baptist University from 2005-07. Newman was the fifth-round draft choice of the San Diego Padres out of Texas Tech in 1994, pitching professionally for eight years with four different organizations.
Eric Newman added Justin James to his staff as the new pitching coach this off-season. James came over from his alma mater, Point Loma. J.T. Bloodworth is in his fifth season in the UCSD dugout, now in his third year as the Tritons' recruiting coordinator. Jeff Calhoon and former Triton relief pitcher (2011-12) Tony York are in their second year. Bloodworth coaches third base and Calhoon is at first base. York pursued a professional baseball career after his UCSD days and upon returning, resumed work on his bachelor's degree in psychology, completing it in March.
ABOUT THE TRAILBLAZERS
Dixie State (37-12-1, 26-9-1 PacWest) has earned a bid to the NCAA Championship for the sixth consecutive season, the longest current stretch in the region, and sixth overall. The Trailblazers finished half a game back of Azusa Pacific for the PacWest title and automatic berth, having won back-to-back PacWest crowns in 2014 and 2015, before the league had an automatic qualifying spot. DSU holds a 7-10 (.412) all-time record in NCAA postseason play. Dixie State reached the West Region championship game in 2012, but fell to Chico State. The Red Storm has never advanced past the West Regional. DSU is 16-7-1 away from home this season, and 5-3 against the field. Chris Pfatenhauer is in his fifth season at the head of the Dixie State baseball program.
Dixie State holds a 2-1 all-time series record against UCSD. All three meetings have come in NCAA Division II West Regional play. Thursday night's initial matchup for the Tritons is a first against Dixie State since an elimination game of the 2015 NCAA West Regional in Walnut on May 16, 2015, a contest that UCSD won by the final score of 7-0 en route to the final. That result came as a three-hit shutout from four right-handers, with current upperclassmen John Erhardt, Jack Rupe, Jr., and Troy Cruz each tossing an inning to close it out. UCSD fell twice in 2012 in Keizer, Ore. In the opening game, a grand slam powered the then-Red Storm to a 7-3 victory. They ultimately ended the Tritons' season, 6-4, despite a late comeback attempt.
1987 COLLEGE WORLD SERIES ANNIVERSARY
This season marks the 30-year anniversary of the 1987 squad that advanced to the program's first College World Series, that at the NCAA Division III level. Members of that team were back at Triton Ballpark to be recognized prior to the March 11 doubleheader against Cal State Monterey Bay. The 1987 Tritons posted a then-program-best 32-13 record under the direction of head coach Lyle Yates, sweeping through La Verne in the West Regional on their way to Marietta, Ohio, before being eliminated in extra innings by eventual national champion Montclair State.
TRITONS IN THE PROS
Justin Donatella (2013-15) is back with the Visalia Rawhide, the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks whom he aided to the 2016 California League North title. He is the organization's No. 26 prospect, and in fact was the Rawhide's Opening Day starter in Lancaster on April 6. Tim Shibuya (2008-11) is in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization again and been assigned to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers. Shibuya is in the starting rotation. A third former right-handed pitcher, Guido Knudson (2008-11), is a free agent and in his native San Diego to rehabilitate an injury.
For the latest in Triton athletic gear, make sure to visit ucsdtritonsgear.com. Run by UCSD Athletics' online partner, Advanced-Online, the site provides an on-demand option for Triton athletic apparel and merchandise. Fans have access to over 600 products that can be processed and shipped within 24 hours.
FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
Got some young Triton fans in your family? If they are in eighth grade or under, check out the Junior Triton Club. Membership includes a free t-shirt, admission to over 100 UCSD home athletic events, and much more!
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Eight regionals will be contested in the coming week, with two of the eight-team variety, four seven-teamers, and a pair with six to make up 56. The West Region champion will be joined by the other seven regional winners in Grand Prairie, Texas, at The Ballpark in Grand Prairie, home of the Texas AirHogs, an independent professional team. The site had been temporarily moved from Cary, N.C., site of the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship at the USA Baseball National Training Complex the past eight seasons. That final round takes place May 27-June 3.