After dropping the first game of the four-game series 3–0, the No. 8 ranked UC San Diego caught fire, winning three in a row against interconference foe the California State University, Chico Wildcats, pushing themselves to a 20–5 overall record and a California Collegiate Athletic Association-leading 15–5 record.
In game two of the series, the Tritons found themselves behind late for a second consecutive game as Chico State had maintained their early lead after scoring 3 runs in the first inning and adding another one in the third frame. The Wildcats first four batters were locked in offensively, as collectively they batted .529 (9–17) for the game. However, just when things looked like Wildcats had things wrapped up, the Triton’s sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb launched a two-run blast cutting the deficit to 4–2 in the 7th inning.
This is just what UCSD needed to get things going. They would respond the very next inning 5 runs and take a 7–4 lead. After a few walks to begin the inning, freshman designated hitter Michael Furhman knocked the game open with a bases-clearing triple, and with following RBI’s from Whitcomb, the Tritons took their first lead of the game. Senior reliever Kyle Lucke came in for the Tritons in the 9th and recorded the save but more importantly locked down the 7–5 win.
Game three of the series was the second game of the Saturday doubleheader, and building off the success from earlier in the day, the Tritons pieced together strong performances from their hitting, pitching and fielding to shutout the Wildcats, 5–0.
Pitchers senior Preston Mott and sophomore Cameron Leonard were terrific all night long, surrendering only 4 hits in the shutout, and pitched 5 and 2 innings respectively. At the plate for the Tritons, redshirt senior third baseman Alex Eliopulos carried the team with a perfect 3–3 showing with 4 RBI’s on the night, including a 3-run homer in the first inning that gave the Tritons the spark they needed early on. Redshirt sophomore designated hitter Aaron Kim and Elipopulos tacked on more runs, with one RBI apiece, in the 6th inning to push the lead to 5–0. Behind its stellar pitching, UCSD cruised to a 5–0 victory as Chico State remained neutralized offensively despite its strong showing in the previous game.
In the last game of the series, the Tritons exploded offensively as they broke out for 11 runs, capping off the weekend in style. Following the Wildcats 2-run first inning, the Tritons answered quickly and took the lead by the 3rd frame, 9–2. Doubles by redshirt sophomore first baseman Blake Baumgartner and CCAA leader in slugging percentage Kim knocked in a combined 5 runs in the second, and RBI hits from junior outfielder Alex Athanacio and Elipopulos in the third put the Tritons up 9–2. Triton’s sophomore starting pitcher Brandon Weems moved to 5–0 on the season after the win and pitched 7 innings, conceding only two runs. Whitcomb added to the lead in the 8th with a 2 run double, and is continuing to put together a strong season batting .313, with 6 home runs and 22 RBIs. Relief pitchers redshirt junior Blaine Jarvis and freshman Lonnie Morris kept the Wildcats’ bats at bay the last two innings as the Tritons finished off the series with a commanding 11–2 victory.
As the season goes on, UCSD’s pitching has only gotten better. As the team continues to grind towards the playoffs, the nation-leading pitching staff and its glittering 2.55 ERA will have to be maintained.