After trailing 4–0 for the majority of the game, the UC San Diego baseball team took down the Montana State University, Billings Yellowjackets by the final score of 7–5 at Triton Ballpark on Friday, May 17 at 3:30 p.m., eliminating the visiting Yellowjackets from the NCAA Division II West Regional tournament.
The loudest applause of the night came when the UCSD softball team walked into Triton Ballpark hoisting its sparkling NCAA Division II West Region championship trophy, but that wasn’t because the baseball game was devoid of excitement. Despite Tritons fans having little to cheer for much of the game, the 6th inning brought new energy to the bats, and consequently, the home fans and the dugout.
The 7-run bottom of the 6th inning saw all of the UCSD runs cross home plate, with redshirt sophomore first baseman Blake Baumgartner getting the scoring started with a 2-run line drive single to left field with the bases loaded. After Baumgartner’s single, the Tritons tied the game at 4–4 with a double off the very top of the wall in left field off the bat of junior left fielder Alex Anthanacio on a 3-2 pitch, prompting an MSU Billings pitching change.
The Yellowjacket’s new pitcher, senior Jared Winslow, would end up striking out the side, but not before allowing 3 runs to score without a hit. After Winslow drilled junior catcher Nick Kitzmann, senior right fielder R.J. Prince, who led off the 6th inning with a base hit up the middle, drew a four-pitch walk to put UCSD up 5–4. With the bases still juiced, Winslow uncorked a pair of wild pitches while facing California Collegiate Athletics Association MVP sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb, both of which let in runs to drive the score up to 7–4. Whitcomb would eventually go down swinging, but the damage had been done and despite threats from MSU Billings, the Tritons would not relinquish the lead.
Despite a solo home run up near the light rail tracks in left field by the Yellowjacket’s junior Daniel Cipriano pushing the score to 7–5 in the top of the 7th inning, UCSD was able to hold on to its newly acquired lead thanks to a shutdown performance by senior reliever Jonah Dipoto, whose slider-heavy arsenal shutout the Yellowjackets over the final two innings of the ballgame to give the Tritons their first victory of the tournament.
In Game 2 of the day, UCSD will take on Point Loma Nazarene University at 7:15 p.m. and will be the visiting team.