Tritons Go Top With Chico State Sweep

    GAME 1

    UCSD 9, Chico 3

    Center fielder Danny Susdorf went four-for-six with two RBI, and third baseman Evan Kehoe and catcher Kellen Lee had two RBI apiece as the Tritons piled on the offense to take the opening game of the four-game series.

    Triton ace Tim Shibuya (9-3) pitched 7 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on five hits while striking out nine batters and surrendering just one walk.

    The Tritons had a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth after a two-run single from Lee, but the Wildcats responded by plating two of their own in the bottom half of the inning. From there, the Tritons put the game out of reach by scoring in each of the final four innings. Justin Burns and Daniel Simmons did not allow a hit in 1 1/3 innings of relief.

    GAME 2

    UCSD 9, Chico 1

    Triton starter Guido Knudson pitched a complete-game gem, and the Tritons used a five-run second inning to take the first half of Saturday’s doubleheader.

    Knudson (7-3) gave up one run on five hits, struck out four and didn’t allow a walk while going the distance. The right-hander has now picked up the win in his last four starts.

    First baseman Blake Tagmyer led off the second with a double, one of six for the Tritons in the game. Lee brought him home with a single to left field, and shortstop Garrett Tuck, left fielder Aaron Bauman and designated hitter Nick La Face all had RBI in the inning.

    Chico did not score until the bottom of the eighth inning, when the game was already out of reach.

    GAME 3

    UCSD 6, Chico 5

    The Tritons squeaked by Chico in the second half of the doubleheader to guarantee they would take the conference lead back home with them.

    Triton starter Taylor Austin lasted just 2 2/3 innings after giving up three runs in the second inning, but Chico’s Jordan Lindebaum was worse after giving up four runs 3 2/3 innings. UCSD first took the lead in the fourth inning, thanks to a solo shot from Lee that brought the score to 4-3. The Tritons tacked on two more in the fifth and sixth, scoring on an error and a hit batter, respectively.

    The Tritons got themselves into a jam in the sixth inning with score 6-3, when reliever Justin Burns allowed the first two Wildcat batters to reach base. Elias Tuma came into relieve, and had a forgettable outing as he allowed the runners to score and load the bases. Simmons came in to dispel the danger, and forced a groundout to strand all three runners. He put down the side in order in the seventh inning — the last of the game — to pick up his first save of the season.

    Despite a shaky outing, Burns (2-1) picked up the win for the Tritons.

    GAME 4

    UCSD 11, Chico 10

    The Tritons outlasted the Wildcats to sweep the series in a wild finale.

    Chico opened the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the first, but the Tritons responded right away with a mammoth nine-run second inning. UCSD batted around plus three batters, and five Tritons had RBI, including a three-run home run from Tagmyer.

    “Tag [Tagmyer] is special, he flat-out competes for every day and that’s what makes him a leader and a winner,” head coach Dan O’Brien said.

    But the Wildcats slowly chipped away at the lead, plating a run in the fourth inning and three more in the fifth. Triton starter Jeff Rauh was knocked out of the game after giving up seven runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. With the score 9-7, neither team could score until the Tritons added two more runs in the top of the eighth inning thanks to a two-RBI single by shortstop Garrett Tuck. Chico responded with a run in their half of the inning, and the Tritons did not score in the top of the ninth, leading both teams into the final frame with the score 11-8.

    Triton reliever Tuma allowed the first two batters to reach base, and was removed for Simmons. The Wildcats scored on an RBI single and sacrifice fly, but Simmons struck out the final batter with the tying run on second base.

    “I can’t say enough about how our guys competed all weekend,” O’Brien said. “Today wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to finish, and that’s all that matters.”

    The Tritons are now 34-12 overall, and 25-12 in conference play. The Wildcats dropped to 27-14 and 21-13. UCSD has won its last 13 games, while Chico has dropped five straight.

    The No. 7 Tritons took sole possession of first place in the CCAA with the sweep.

    “The guys deserved the reward of first place, considering what they’ve been through and how they responded to a lot of early-season adversity,” O’Brien said.

    The Tritons return to action this week with a home-and-home series with Cal State San Bernardino to wrap up the regular season.

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