Baseball bids adieu to eight seniors

    Behind the play of its stellar seniors, the UCSD baseball team qualified for the postseason this year for the first time since moving up to Division II in 2000. Catcher and first baseman Jeff Riddle, outfielder Brett Burton, infielder Keith Albrecht, pitcher Raf Bergstrom and outfielder David Hawk provided the team with leadership and determination throughout their years at UCSD. Pitchers Nolan Dunkly and Trent Crotts and first baseman Aaron Detty aided the team off the bench.

    Co-captain Riddle’s impact on the team over his four years as a Triton has been tremendous.

    “Jeff has been at the foundation of our efforts to build a national championship-caliber program,” head coach Dan O’ Brien said. “Without him, we could not have come as far as we have in his four years here. His leadership, both on and off the field, will be missed.”

    Riddle led the 2004 team with 56 RBIs, 19 doubles and five home runs. He batted .348, accounted for 38 runs, put up 71 hits and drew 38 walks.

    Defensively, Riddle led the team with 257 putouts. For his efforts, Riddle earned All-California Collegiate Athletic Association Second Team honors. This follows his junior year, when Riddle was distinguished on the All-CCAA First Team, having recorded 43 RBIs, five home runs and a .497 slugging percentage.

    Throughout his career, Riddle looked to his teammates to play hard and work as a cohesive unit in order to win games. It is the aspect of teamwork that Riddle will miss next year.

    “Every position has at least two or three other guys that can step in and do the job,” Riddle said. “I’ve never played with so many talented ball players before who not only work hard and push each other, but support one another no matter the circumstances. It’s an awesome feeling knowing that whoever steps in to play will help this ball club tremendously.”

    Also integral to the Tritons’ success, Burton became an offensive powerhouse toward the end of the 2004 regular season. He led the team with a .394 batting average and accounted for 23 runs on the year. Burton, who was selected to the 2004 All-CCAA Third Team, notched 37 hits, including nine doubles, three triples and a home run. In 2003, Burton hit .255, scored 36 runs, drove in 28 runs, hit five home runs and stole 21 bases on 23 attempts.

    “Brett developed into an outstanding all around player and stepped up when this team needed him to down the stretch,” O’Brien said. “We don’t go to the postseason without Brett this year, and that’s the ultimate compliment.”

    Albrecht has been a crucial factor in UCSD’s success in 2004. His walk-off home run in the top of the 10th inning against Chico State in the series opener propelled the Tritons to victory, keeping them eligible for the postseason. In 2004, Albrecht hit .304 and had a .452 slugging percentage. He had 28 RBIs and knocked 41 hits, including five doubles and five home runs. Albrecht and Riddle top the home run list with five apiece. Albrecht was the only Triton to successfully steal a base in each attempt; he stole 7-for-7 in 2004. Defensively, he had 254 putouts and had a .982 fielding percentage.

    “When this team needed him, Keith was there,” O’Brien said. “If you watched our team closely over the last three years, you know that we could not have had the success that we have enjoyed without the solid play of Keith throughout his career. It will be a big loss to lose such a solid player.”

    A force to be reckoned with on the mound, co-captain Bergstrom posted a 5-7 record in 2004 with a 5.74 earned run average. A four-year starting pitcher, Bergstrom kept playoff hopes alive with crucial victories down the stretch in 2004. He threw three complete games and had 44 strikeouts over 84.2 innings pitched. In 2003, Bergstrom pitched a team-high 81.1 innings and posted a 5-2 record, with four complete games. He struck out 48 batters and completed the season with a 4.2 ERA.

    “With the team’s season and his college career on the line, Raf stepped up and threw the game of his life to get us to the postseason,” O’Brien said. “It was a great win toward the end of an outstanding college baseball career. It’s been a pleasure to watch Raf develop as a player and a person. I am very proud of him and his accomplishments.”

    Plagued by injury during his final season, Hawk struggled to catch a break in 2004. In 2003, Hawk had a strong showing playing in 46 of 53 games. He posted a .274 batting average with five doubles, three home runs, 22 RBIs and 23 runs scored.

    “David had an outstanding career for us and has been a pleasure to coach for four years,” O’Brien said. “He will be missed as a good player, but even more so as an outstanding person.”

    Though Dunkly made just one starting appearance on the hill for the Tritons in 2004, his undying work ethic earned him respect from all members of the team. Dunkly, 1-0, earned his first victory on Senior Day 2004 against Vanguard University. In his nine appearances on the year, he posted a 3.21 ERA with seven strikeouts in 14 innings.

    “Nolan’s attitude while reacting to some challenging health issues throughout his career paid off on Senior Day,” O’Brien said. “He not only earned the start and the win that day, but he continued to earn the respect of everyone around him that day. I’m very proud of his growth in this program.”

    Detty and Crotts aided the team in as many pinch-hitting and relief roles as they could this year.

    “Aaron and Trent were players who did not get a chance to show us their best because of frustrating senior-season injuries,” O’Brien said. “I hope they enjoyed being a part of such a great team their senior season and realize that they will take away a lot of positives from a season that could be looked at as a negative year.

    The success of the 2004 Tritons will be the standard for ensuing seasons. The can-do attitudes and the character of these eight seniors will be sorely missed.

    “This team is one of the closest groups of guys I have ever played with, and everyone is dedicated to outwork each other in order to be successful,” Bergstrom said.

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