A Missed Opportunity

Karen Ling/Guardian File

After an incredible run that pushed the team to a No. 1 ranking, the Tritons’ momentum finally came to a halt against San Bernardino last weekend with an uncharacteristic shelling of their ace pitcher, junior right-hander Tim Shibuya.

UCSD saw its record 19-game win streak come to an end with a 4-3 loss to Cal State San Bernardino on April 1. By April 2, the Tritons had lost another of the four games in the series against the Coyotes. It was the first time they did not win a series since February.

Shibuya took his first loss of the season in game one, when he was tagged for four runs on eight hits in six and one-third innings. His record fell to 7-1.

Senior center fielder Robert Sedin’s single drove in two runs, and junior outfielder Aaron Bauman hit a solo homer — but that was all the scoring the Tritons could muster, despite their total of nine hits in the game. The men loaded the bases in the ninth inning but could not come through in the clutch.

“In game one, we battled and played well, but came up a little short,” senior catcher Kellen Lee said. “We had many opportunities to drive more runs in, but couldn’t capitalize. That is something we definitely need to improve on.”

The Tritons rebounded in game two with a 14-7 victory on Friday. The offense exploded for 20 hits and 14 runs, with most action coming from the middle of the lineup. Senior first baseman Brandon Gregorich went four-for-five with two home runs, one triple and five RBIs. Junior third baseman Evan Kehoe had a great day at the plate, going five-for-five with a home run and a pair of RBIs.

Junior second baseman Blake Tagmeyer also had a two-home run game, plating five Tritons in the process. Senior righty Kirby St. John improved his record to 7-1 as he tossed six and two-thirds solid innings.

“We expected a tough series because they are a talented team that has been winning a good amount of games this year so far,” Lee said. “As a team, we refocused and played very well in game two to even up the series.”

UCSD returned to Triton Ballpark on Saturday looking to win the series in a doubleheader. Senior righty Matt Rossman threw eight innings of one-run ball, allowing eight hits and striking out six as the Tritons eased to a 12-1 victory.

Alongside Rossman’s skill on the mound, Gregorich and Kehoe did their part on the offense, serving up a combined five-for-ten day at the plate, including four RBIs and a home run by Kehoe.

The second game of the doubleheader lasted seven innings, each one controlled by the Coyotes. With a series split in sight, CSUSB put in just enough effort for a 3-2 win. Junior right-hander Guido Knudson grinded out six and two-thirds sweaty innings, allowing three runs on ten hits. He struck out six batters and allowed zero walks. Aside from a solo shot by Bauman, the Triton offense only managed three total hits.

UCSD threatened an upset in the final inning by loading the bases and coming within a tying run, but couldn’t bring it home.

“Coming back to our home field for games three and four is always a great situation for us, because we have a good amount of success playing at home,” Lee said. “In game three, we came out swinging, and Rossman pitched extremely well. We were feeling confident and ready to take the series in game four after that win. However, San Bernardino’s pitcher held our offense to only three hits, and the way we played is not reflected in the score.”

The Tritons now stand at 30-5 overall and 20-4 in California Collegiate Athletic Association action. They dropped three spots to No. 4 in the national rankings.

UCSD will now set its sights on Cal State Stanislaus in a four-game series. The Warriors have won six of their last eight games. While the Tritons head the league with a team Earned Run Average of 3.36, CSUS ranks right behind them with a 3.53 ERA.

Readers can contact Cameron Tillisch at [email protected].

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