Baseball to lose key athletes

    With a 30-23-1 overall record and a 23-17 record in league during he 2001-2002 season, the UCSD baseball team worked its way through the ranks of the foreboding Division II to prove itself as a force to be reckoned with in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

    In the inaugural Division II season for the Tritons last year, the team finished with a 7-28 record, leading many skeptics to believe that UCSD was not prepared to enter this level of competition. But this year, the Tritons proved those skeptics wrong.

    Led by nine seniors, the baseball team played strongly throughout the entire season; so strong, in fact, that one game decided the final playoff spot.

    “”Having to win three out of four games on the road against UC Davis put us in the make-or-break position,”” said senior pitcher Keith Smith. “”We love that kind of competition.””

    Along with Hanau (3-5) and Smith (5-4), senior pitchers John Beaven (7-4), Robert Peelle (1-2) and John Schultz (5-5) will be leaving the squad.

    “”[Beaven] is everything you would hope for in a player. He was the ace of our pitching staff and the team captain,”” said head coach Dan O’Brien.

    Even with his personal struggles this past year — his father, Alan, was killed on Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11 — Beaven’s outlook remains optimistic. A biology major, Beaven will graduate in the fall and is currently awaiting the major league draft in the hopes of playing baseball in the minors.

    Each pitcher this year played an integral part in the success of the team.

    “”This is the most talented pitching staff that I have seen,”” O’Brien said. “”Peelle had some big outings for us this season, but has not received the recognition that he deserves for his hard work, and John Schultz had a tough year, but handled his job well.””

    O’Brien continued to praise his senior pitching staff.

    “”Andy [Hanau] was a quiet guy, but was a big-time pitcher. He really set us up for success in many of our four-game series,”” he said. “”Smith had the biggest impact of any player, considering the time he has been on the team. He understands the game and is able to take control and perform at a high level of play.””

    In addition to the senior pitchers, the Tritons will lose most of their starting infield, including first baseman Chad Addison, second baseman Anthony Lococo, third baseman Ryan Larson and catcher Tyler Sullivan.

    Addison, who started all 54 games for UCSD this season, is second on the 2001-2002 list for runs scored, RBIs and doubles.

    “”Chad just had a great career with the ball club,”” O’Brien said.

    Fittingly, Addison will return next year as a graduate assistant coach under O’Brien for the 2002-2003 season.

    “”I loved my four years here, so I guess it makes sense that I will be coming back to help out in some way next year,”” Addison said.

    Filling out the rest of the right side of the infield, Lococo’s smart play earned him a starting spot at second base this season. The communications major had the highest on-base percentage (.449) on the team, as well as a .504 slugging percentage.

    “”[Lococo’s] leadership was great and he went about the season the way every coach would hope a player would,”” O’Brien said. “”It was his platoon this year and he handled his role admirably. It will be great having him on the coaching staff next year.””

    Struggling with some personal issues in the latter half of the season, third baseman Larson still managed to top the leader board. He had the highest slugging percentage at .522 and also tied with designated hitter Jeff Riddle for the most home runs this season with six knocks apiece.

    “”Larson’s ability was just incredible. His bat was strong for us through the middle of the season,”” O’Brien said.

    Behind the plate, catcher Tyler Sullivan controlled the infield. Sullivan played a major role in manufacturing runs for the Tritons, leading in sacrifice bunts for the year.

    “”He was a great asset to the team and provided leadership, as every catcher must,”” O’Brien said.

    After finishing at UCSD, Hanau will be earning his teaching credential and hopes to begin coaching at the high school level. Smith plans on going to law school while Schultz will work for a health care consulting group in San Francisco.

    Addison, Lococo and Peelle will return to UCSD on the coaching staff.

    O’Brien is excited about his players returning as coaches and mentors to the younger players.

    “”You know your program is going in a good direction when players want to stick around,”” O’Brien said.

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