Tritons Improve Road Record to 13-1 in CCAA

BASEBALL — When they dropped the first leg of their four-game series against Cal State Los Angeles at Triton Ballpark on April 15, the No. 3 Tritons found themselves in unfamiliar territory. However, the team bounced back on April 16 with a come-from-behind 10-4 win, and proceeded to take the next two at Reeder Field by scores of 13-6 and 5-4 on April 17. By the end of the road trip, they had improved their away record to 13-1.

The series opener showcased a pitcher’s duel: The Tritons starting pitcher junior Tim Shibuya throwing a complete game gem, allowing just two runs on nine hits; however, UCSD offense could not answer two early Golden Eagle runs, and CSULA went on to win the game 2-1.

“We dropped a tough game on Thursday,” junior third baseman Evan Kehoe said. “Tim Shibuya threw really well, but our offense didn’t pick him up with any run support. We made some adjustments after that game and ended up winning the next three games.”

In the second game, the Tritons seemed destined for a 0-2 hole in the series, entering the seventh inning four runs down. However, the Triton offense suddenly came alive in the seventh, turning in eight runs throughout the inning — forcing the Golden Eagles to make four pitching changes.

The first six Tritons up to bat in the inning all reached base. Junior outfielder Kyle Saul gave the Tritons the lead with a three-run RBI triple. Senior starting pitcher Matt Rossman also had a solid outing on Friday: He tossed 6.1 innings of three-run ball. UCSD tacked on two more runs in the eighth inning for a 10-4 win.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Tritons traveled to Reeder Field for the final two games of the series on Saturday and Sunday. Game Three was a spectacle of Triton offensive talent: The team posted six runs in the fifth inning, punctuated by a grand slam from Kehoe — his sixth home run of the season. Junior outfielders Aaron Bauman and Saul also homered in the game.

Senior starting pitcher Kirby St. John allowed only three Golden Eagle runs on 14 hits to notch the victory as UCSD went on to win the game at a score of 13-6.

Trailing 4-1 into the sixth inning of the series’ final game, UCSD’s victory hinged on another unlikely comeback. Junior righty Guido Knudson had an uncharacteristic outing on Sunday, lasting only four and two-thirds innings and allowing four runs; however, the Tritons jumped back into the ring when senior second baseman Blake Tagmeyer drew a leadoff walk. Senior catcher Kellen Lee followed with a clutch two-run homer to left field, pulling UCSD within one run at 4-3.

Sophomore outfielder Danny Susdorf came off the bench as a pinch hitter, doubled, and then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by junior infielder Grant Bauer. With a man in scoring position, senior first baseman Brandon Gregorich stepped up to the plate with two outs and knocked in the tying run. Tied 4-4, Saul drove in the game-winning run with a hit up the middle.

Senior reliever Daniel Simmons also came up huge, shutting the Golden Eagles down for two and one-third innings. He allowed just one hit in relief.

“All weekend, we found ourselves behind late in the games,” Lee said. “Things weren’t going our way for the most part. Usually teams get caught in the fact that they are losing, but we remained calm and didn’t worry about the score during the game. That keeps us focused and able to perform and comeback — that was the key for us this weekend.”

With the series win, UCSD improved to 37-6 overall and 27-5 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. The Tritons will now head into a crucial series with No. 10 Cal State Dominguez Hills — who stand at 34-11 overall and 24-8 in CCAA play — starting April 25. The series will be a battle for No. 1, as the Toros trail the Tritons by three games in the conference.

Readers can contact Cameron Tillisch at [email protected].