Tritons go 6-2 with win at Petco

    After California Collegiate Athletic Association series against Grand Canyon, and the Cal State San Bernardino series, a game against Division I Air Force, and a history-making game at Petco Park, the UCSD baseball team sits at 21-11 overall and 12-8 in the CCAA.

    David Ung
    Guardian file

    “We’ve been playing good, solid baseball,” senior co-captain Jeff Riddle said. “Looking at who we’re playing is just a distraction; it’s the same game every time we step onto the field, and it really doesn’t matter who’s in the other dugout.”

    UCSD has been battling and beating fierce opponents. On March 12, the Tritons became the first team to win a day game at Petco Park, the new home of the San Diego Padres, when they beat Point Loma University 2-1. The Sea Lions jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the second inning, but UCSD put up single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to earn an important victory.

    Triton sophomore pitcher Byron Grubman threw an incredible complete game. Grubman retired 21 of the last 23 Point Loma hitters, and the last 11 in a row. With the victory, Grubman improves to 3-2 on the season.

    “[The Petco Park game] was a great experience for our players and a game that our program and university can be proud of,” UCSD head coach Dan O’Brien said. “It was also great exposure for our team’s talent level. I think we surprised a few people with our quality of play.”

    The victory secures a permanent place for the 2004 UCSD baseball team in the history books.

    “The sounds, the smell, and the feel of playing on that yard was just awesome,” Riddle said. “That wasn’t enough for our team and guys like Grubman really stepped up and played hard. It was really nice to walk away from that park with the experience and the ‘W.’”

    Continuing their quest to climb in the CCAA standings, the Tritons battled Grand Canyon in a four game series March 10 and March 11, and March 13. UCSD, ranked 14th nationally in Division II, took three out of four from Grand Canyon, dropping the opener 13-16, but winning games two, three and four by scores of 15-6, 10-2 and 11-4, respectively.

    In the series, senior leftfielder Josh Saunders went 10-for-16 (.625) with 11 RBIs and 5 runs scored. He also smacked his first home run as a Triton in the series opener. Saunders’ performance in the series earned him Wilson CCAA Baseball Player of the Week honors. UCSD outscored the Antelopes 49-28 in the series.

    “We played a solid series against Grand Canyon,” O’Brien said. “We can even draw positives from the first game loss mainly because we battled the entire game and came up just short.”

    On March 21, the Tritons completed the final two games of the series against Cal State San Bernardino. The series was interrupted earlier in the season due to rain. UCSD rallied in the bottom of the ninth in the first game of the twin bill to beat the Coyotes 6-5. Cal State San Bernardino answered in the nightcap as they inched out a victory over the Tritons 3-2. The teams ended up splitting the series at two games apiece.

    UCSD squared off against Division I Air Force on Mar. 24. The Tritons downed Air Force 10-2. UCSD scored in each of the first four innings and quickly jumped out to a 9-1 lead. Junior designated hitter Joel Clark hit a two-run double in the four-run second inning, while Riddle belted a two-run double to center field in the fourth. The Tritons’ final run of the game came off senior David Hawk’s bat in a pinch-hitting role in the seventh, and the team’s third sacrifice fly of the afternoon. O’Brien used 25 players in the matchup.

    “All things considered, I thought we played well,” O’Brien said. “It was not easy for the guys to get themselves ready to play a doubleheader on the Sunday of finals week. They were more themselves after two good workouts following the games, and the team showed what they’re capable of against Air Force. This team continues to get better and build confidence. We’re a solid ball club, but it’s time to go from good to great. This team has the make up to do that.”

    UCSD finished its nine-game homestand with a series against Sonoma State March 26 to March 28. The series between the two teams was not completed at press time.

    The Tritons will take on Vanguard University in a nonconference game on March 31 before going on the road for a four-game series April 2 to April 4 against CCAA leader UC Davis.

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