LA JOLLA, Calif. - The 21st-ranked UC San Diego baseball team scored twice in the ninth to extend the game and pushed across a winner in the 11th, outlasting Point Loma Nazarene University, 6-5, in non-conference action at Triton Ballpark on Tuesday night.
With the victory, UCSD improved to 5-2. Point Loma Nazarene dropped to 1-5. The city rivals are now regional foes in the NCAA Division II, though the Sea Lions are ineligible for the NCAA Division II Championship until the 2015 season after having reclassified from the NAIA. The teams will face off two more times in April.
UCSD's senior All-American centerfielder, Danny Susdorf, led off the home half of the 11th by drawing a four-pitch walk from new pitcher Jake James (0-2). Junior shortstop Dillon Moyer was then hit by a James offering as Kellen Stewart took over on the mound. With the count at 2-1, junior leftfielder Justin Rahn put a sacrifice bunt down. Stewart picked up the ball and after considering a throw to third to get the lead runner, ultimately opted to go to first with it after all, only for his toss to miss the target, allowing Rahn to reach safely and more importantly, the speedy Susdorf to sprint all the way home with the decider.
Earlier on, it looked like the Tritons would suffer a disappointing loss heading into league play, letting a 3-2 lead turn into a 5-3 deficit via two unearned runs off a pair of infield errors in the eighth and a single add-on in the ninth, but a two-run rally in the home ninth brought them level. True freshman Gradeigh Sanchez began the comeback with a pinch-hit, two-strike single through the right side for his first collegiate hit. Rightfielder Corbin Wirta followed with a single up the middle, also on a 2-2 pitch. Both runners advanced a base on a passed ball, with Susdorf then reaching on a fielding error by the PLNU pitcher at the time, Sam Sadler, leaving everyone safe and the bases full.
After a foulout and a pitching change, Sanchez came across on a wild pitch. An intentional walk to Rahn brought up junior catcher Nick La Face, who worked a base on balls to force in Wirta with the tying score. Still with bases loaded and nobody out, the Tritons were unable to end it right there and then as a called third strike and another foulout meant extra baseball.
Susdorf finished 3-for-5 with two doubles, a walk, two runs scored, an RBI and two stolen bases. Moyer was 2-for-4 with two hit-by-pitches and a run scored. La Face wound up 1-for-2 with two walks, a hit-by-pitch and one RBI. He also threw out a pair of would-be base-stealers early in the game defensively.
Sean Rowan (1-0) earned the win on the mound, his first decision as a Triton, by tossing a scoreless 10th and 11th with three strikeouts. Fellow junior right-hander Blake Fassler threw a season-high 3.0 innings in shutout fashion, allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out four.
The teams combined to use 15 pitchers on the night in a staff game for both sides that lasted just over four and a half hours.
Tuesday night's game served as UCSD's final tune-up before it opens defense of four consecutive California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season titles with a four-game series against Cal State Stanislaus this weekend. First pitch for the opener on Friday night, Feb. 15, is set for 6 p.m. at Triton Ballpark.
Triton Notes: UCSD is 43-37-1 all-time against Point Loma Nazarene ... Garrett Tuck started for the 79th consecutive game and made his 86th straight appearance ... Nick La Face drew his 64th consecutive start ... Junior Spencer Frazier made his first start of 2013 at second base ... Freshman right-hander Justin Donatella drew the first start of his college career ... Danny Susdorf's first-inning double extended his career-best hit streak to 24 games dating back to last season ... With zero chances on the night, Susdorf's defensive streak without an error also moved to his last 181 chances and 74 games dating back to April 29, 2011 ... With two more doubles on the night to give him a team-leading six in 2013 and 47 for his career, Susdorf moved up into eighth on the all-time program chart, ahead of Matt Lawson's (2005-07) 46 ... Devin Garrett made his first appearance since a home start on Feb. 5, 2012, vs. Western Oregon ... Danny Recio made his Triton debut as a ninth-inning pinch-hitter after redshirting in 2012 ... Sean Rowan made his season debut.
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