Tritons Sweep Pioneers to Make it Ten Straight

    John Hanacek/Guardian File

    BASEBALL — In their first series on the road, the No. 2 UCSD men’s baseball team mixed an effective balance of pitching and offense to sweep its fourth series of the season against Cal State East Bay on March 6, winning by scores of 5-3, 3-2, 12-7 and 18-5. UCSD improved to 19-3 overall, 10-2 in California Collegiate Athletic Association action while the Pioneers fell to 5-13-1 overall, and 2-10 in CCAA play.

    UCSD showcased a couple of solid outings off of the mound. In the first game, junior starting pitcher Tim Shibuya improved to 5-0 by tossing nearly seven innings, scattering nine hits and allowing three earned runs. Shibuya cruised through five innings, but let up in the final two frames allowing one run in the sixth inning, and two in the seventh. However senior first baseman Brandon Gregorich and junior catcher Michael Benton provided ample offense, hitting two RBIs a piece to help the Tritons to a 5-3 win.

    In game two, junior right-hander Guido Knudson made his second start of the season after being moved from the closer role into the rotation. Coming off of a no-hit bid in his first start, Knudson once again proved comfortable in a starting role. He electrified opposition hitters — pitching a complete game, striking out 11 Pioneers and allowing just two earned runs — and led UCSD to a victory despite receiving only 3 runs of support from the offense.

    “As a team, over the series we found ways to get out of jams on the mound and avoid the big inning while the offense had timely hitting,” Knudson said. “Solid defense as usual leads to good things all the way around, and we played well in the field. We had guys step up out of the bullpen in tight games. Basically, we found ways to pick each other up in each game and get a win.”

    Knudson was also quick to credit his pitching performance to his catchers and the advice of assistant coach Ryan Leake.

    “For me on the mound, the ability to mix well and locate fastballs consistently was the key,” Knudson said. “I think me, [junior catchers] Mike Benton and Kellen Lee and Leake really had a good approach to their hitters, and kept them off balance with pitches down in the zone. Catchers did an awesome job and deserve much of the credit for that game, as well as Coach Leake calling a great game,” Knudson said.

    The Tritons, who boast a .385 team batting average, brought their bats with them on Saturday and Sunday after lackluster offensive output on Friday’s doubleheader. On Saturday, the heart of the order showed up as Gregorich and junior third baseman Evan Kehoe combined for six hits and eight RBIs.

    The support was enough to pick up senior right-hander Matt Rossman, who was not as sharp as usual. Rossman, usually in command of the opposition, walked four hitters but grinded out five and one-third innings allowing just three earned runs. The senior showed grit and exemplified how a veteran gets through a game even without his best material. The Tritons beat the Pioneers 12-7 in the game.

    “They were definitely a better team than their record reflected,” Rossman said. “They had some good arms and battled pretty well at the plate. Our offense battled all weekend, and we played solid defense on a rain-soaked field from the days prior.”

    Seeking a series sweep in game four, the UCSD offense exploded for 22 hits and 18 runs on Sunday. Leading the onslaught was senior outfielder Robert Sedin, who went three for four with a home run and five RBIs. Lee notched four hits of his own including a homer, and junior left fielder Aaron Bauman went deep, finishing three for four with three runs and three RBIs.

    Although the offense effectively decided the result, senior right-hander Kirby St. John had a nice outing, going six innings and allowing just two runs.

    “We will prepare for the next series with high-intensity practices just like we do every week,” Knudson said. “It’s no different week in and week out; we just go out and have quality practices. This team has a great chemistry and has a good time, and it keeps us going week in and week out. We play Sonoma this week, but it does nothing to change our preparation.”

    The Tritons return to Triton Baseball Stadium for another home stand on March 12 as they host Sonoma State. The Seawolves are 8-9, 2-6 CCAA so far this year. Last year, Sonoma State took three of four games in conference play, and the Tritons got revenge by taking three of four in postseason action.

    Readers can contact Cameron Tillisch at [email protected].

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