Baseball takes two from Dominguez Hills

The No. 16 UCSD baseball team began its eight-game road trip April 22 and April 23 with a three-game series against California Collegiate Athletic Association rival Cal State Dominguez Hills. The Tritons posted a resounding comeback against the Toros in the series opener, coming back from a 5-3 deficit in the top of the ninth inning to earn the victory, 10-5. UCSD’s momentum carried into the opener of the series’ doubleheader, which the Tritons won handily, 19-10. In the nightcap, the team threatened another come-from-behind win but left the tying runs aboard and dropped the series finale, 9-7, despite pushing across four runs in the ninth.

Game one between the Tritons and the Toros saw UCSD (26-16 overall, 20-14 CCAA) conjure an incredible two-out rally in the final frame to defeat Cal State Dominguez Hills (21-26 overall, 11-20 CCAA), 10-5.

With two outs, freshman pinch hitter Chris Hom, sophomore pinch hitter Brian Trump and junior pinch hitter Damian Fante, reached base on a hit batsman and two walks, respectively. Triton senior shortstop Keith Hernandez then delivered the game-tying two-RBI single. After sophomore catcher David Morehead was intentionally walked to reload the bases, senior first baseman Brian Robinson showed patience in drawing the go-ahead free pass to put UCSD up, 6-5. Junior outfielder Matt Lawson and senior third baseman Alex Gascon then added two more RBIs apiece as the Tritons overtook the Toros for the victory.

Junior hurler Ryan Leake picked up the win for the Tritons to move his record to 5-3 on the season.

In the opener of the doubleheader split, the Tritons pounded out 23 hits en route to a 19-10 win. Robinson and Lawson each went 4-for-4. Senior centerfielder Brad Beltz and Hernandez notched three hits apiece and combined for five RBIs.

UCSD junior reliever Matt Sweany threw two innings of relief for the win, improving his record to 2-0.

In the second game of the doubleheader and final game of the series, the Toros jumped on UCSD junior starter Byron Grubman and scored three runs in both the third and fifth innings. Leake came in to relieve the Tritons but fared no better as Cal State Dominguez Hills pushed across three more in the sixth inning to take a commanding 9-3 lead.

UCSD, however, would rally in its last at-bat, scoring four times to narrow the lead to 9-7. The Tritons were inches from the lead when, with two out and runners on first and second, senior pinch-hitter Joel Clark sent a deep shot to right-center field. But Toro rightfielder Ricky Eda made certain Clark’s efforts would go for naught as the 6-foot-1-inch senior extended his glove over the right-centerfield fence and secured the would-be go-ahead home run for the final out of the game. UCSD’s Grubman gave up six runs and eight hits in the loss, falling to 3-3 on the year.

The CCAA South Division race continues to be a tight three-team battle. After the Cal State Dominguez Hills series, the Tritons have a 20-14 record in league play. Cal Poly Pomona was swept, losing three times to Cal State Los Angeles, and ended the week with a conference mark of 19-13. Cal State San Bernardino has dropped two of its last three, with one more game to play at Sonoma State. The Coyotes entered their April 24 game with a CCAA record of 19-13.

UCSD will be back in action April 26 for a single contest at Cal State San Bernardino at 7 p.m., then will head north to Sonoma State for a four-game series April 29 through May 1.