The No. 14 UC San Diego Tritons came ready to play on Friday, Feb. 28 as they took both home games from California State University, Sonoma with scores of 14–4, and 1–0, respectively. These wins propel UCSD to an 11–4 overall record and 6–4 California Collegiate Athletic Association, which has the team back near the top of the standings.
The first game of the day featured plenty of offense. The Tritons got to work early, posting back-to-back 4 run innings in the first and second innings, giving the home team an 8–1 lead from the get-go. Redshirt sophomore catcher Aaron Kim continued his hot streak by blasting home runs in both the first and second frames, including a grand slam in the second. Kim has four homers this season batting .355. Redshirt third baseman Alex Eliopulos, who was starting his 90th consecutive game, also did some damage as he gave the Tritons their initial 2–1 lead on a screaming two-run homer in the bottom of the first. The Tritons’ 8 early runs knocked Sonoma State pitcher Dominic Garihan out of the game after just 4 outs, and the onslaught would continue.
UCSD starter Preston Mott tallied the win, pitching 5 quality innings in which he gave up 4 runs and stuck out 7. However, the team was truly guided to victory by the Tritons’ offense. They knocked in 3 more runs in both the sixth and eighth innings due to timely hitting from redshirt junior Steven Schuknecht, who drove in two in the sixth, and cost the Seawolves two errors in the eighth. Freshman pitcher Michael Mitchell closed out the game for the Tritons, only allowing 2 hits in 5 innings of scoreless pitching.
Junior Luke Mattson kicked the second game off just about 45 minutes after the end previous at 6:45, as the temperature began to take a dip in Triton Stadium. The Tritons were looking to build off their offensive prowess in the earlier game, but both teams, even the baserunners, struggled to get hits throughout the game.
In a game that was only slated to last 7 innings, a pitching duel extended it to 10 innings and was put to rest on a one-out single down the right-field line off the bat of Blake Baumgartner. In the ninth inning, however, a leadoff single by the Seawolves’ Zach Guardino gave Sonoma State some hope. With the score still tied 0–0, the next batter hit a high chopping ball that seemed like it was going to be a tough play for first baseman Baumgartner, yet he got down in the dirt and fielded the short hop cleanly and made the play. This play had the crowd holding its breath because if it weren’t for his remarkable defensive effort, the Seawolves likely would’ve scored.
UCSD managed just 6 hits, less than half of its 15 hit total in the earlier game. Pitchers junior Luke Mattson, senior Kyle Lucke, and senior Jonah Dipoto were stellar all night long and combined for a 3-hit, 10-inning shutout. Sonoma State starter Robert Towne was also impressive, keeping the Tritons neutralized offensively by holding them to 3 hits through 5 innings in addition to 7 strikeouts.
Next weekend, UCSD will travel up to the Bay Area to take on California State University, San Francisco — currently undefeated (7–0–1) — in a four-game series beginning on Friday.