Baseball clinches CCAA Playoff berth

    The Triton baseball team completed its four-game series against Cal State Stanislaus on May 2 with an 8-3 victory over the Warriors. UCSD also won the first and third games as well, 14-4 and 9-7, respectively, but dropped game two, 6-5.

    The Triton victories were enough to propel them over the San Francisco State Gators in the California Collegiate Athletic Association conference standings. Thus, UCSD will participate in the postseason for the first time since the team’s move to Division II in 2000.

    “If you think about it, we’ve been in the postseason for weeks already,” UCSD head coach Dan O’Brien said. “We’ve been facing must-win situations against good teams and have found a way to get it done. This team is ready.”

    In the fourth game, Triton senior pitcher Raf Bergstrom went the distance and threw the complete nine innings, earning the win for UCSD. Bergstrom allowed six hits with three runs, all earned, and two walks while striking out a pair. He improved to 5-6 with his third complete game of the season. Fittingly, he made the final out of the game on a ground ball hit thrown to senior Keith Albrecht at first base.

    “Determination, combined with our senior leadership and veteran play, was the key to our success [against Cal State Stanislaus],” O’Brien said.

    UCSD struck immediately for three runs before Bergstrom even stepped on the mound. Junior second baseman Ricky Pinocchio doubled to lead things off and moved to third on senior centerfielder and Triton Player of the Week Brett Burton’s infield single. After junior shortstop Keith Hernandez’s walk loaded the bases, senior designated hitter and co-captain Jeff Riddle drove in the game’s first run with a ground ball while reaching base on an error. Burton came home on a double-play ground ball, with junior leftfielder Joel Clark providing a clutch two-out single through the right side of the infield to bring Hernandez around.

    “We have so much depth offensively and defensively on this team,” Albrecht said. “Everyone can step in and get the job done.”

    O’Brien agreed that his team has pulled together at this very crucial point in the season.

    “The right hitters got hot at the right time,” O’Brien said. “Ironically, those hitters were [largely] seniors who knew their season was on the line.”

    Cal State Stanislaus got a leadoff home run by catcher Mike Amezcua in the top of the fifth inning, and the Tritons answered with a solo home run of their own in the sixth by junior first baseman Brian Robinson to make it a 5-2 game. The blast was Robinson’s first as a Triton in his first year in the program.

    UCSD added three insurance runs, with two in the seventh inning on RBI singles by Burton and Riddle and one in the eighth on freshman catcher David Morehead’s second collegiate home run.

    Pinocchio, Burton and Robinson had two hits apiece for UCSD among its total 12 hits and Pinocchio and Robinson each scored twice. Riddle finished with two RBI to increase his team-leading total on the season to 55. He drove in eight runs in the series, and was the hero of the May 1 come-from-behind victory with a two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning.

    “The seniors on this team are very special,” O’Brien said. “They have grown with the program and have been through some tough times. And while I’m proud of their performances this weekend, I’m certainly not surprised. If you look closely at our seniors, you quickly realize why this team is good. I couldn’t be happier for them.”

    The emergence of Robinson and Burton played a critical role in getting UCSD into the CCAA Championship. Since working his way into the lineup in the eighth spot in game two at San Francisco State on April 17, Robinson has gone 14-for-29 (.483) with two doubles, one triple, one home run, five RBI and seven runs scored, moving up to fifth in the batting order for the May 2 clincher. Five of the last six games have seen him provide multiple hits.

    Burton has been even hotter. Since returning to the starting lineup from injury, Burton is hitting .500 (26-for-52), with seven doubles, two triples, a home run, 13 RBI, 12 runs scored and two steals. Now batting in the two hole, he has collected multiple hits in 10 of the last 13 games, including eight straight games. Burton had a string of seven games in a row in which he had at least one extra-base hit.

    The May 2 victory was UCSD’s 34th of 2004, a new school record. The 1994 team, which finished third at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III College World Series with O’Brien as captain, posted 33 wins. The Tritons are now 34-22 overall, finishing in the CCAA with a 22-18 record. Cal State Stanislaus concluded its season at 20-35-1 overall, 10-29-1 in CCAA play.

    The double-elimination tournament in San Bernardino will open with No. 4-seeded UCSD squaring off against CCAA champions and No. 1-seed Sonoma State at 3 p.m. on May 5. The Tritons took a series against the Seawolves, 3-1, earlier in the 2004 season.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal