On Deck

    A new scoreboard, poached from the recently renovated University of San Diego diamond, will grace Triton Ballpark this season. But other than the cosmetic improvement, UCSD head coach Eric Newman — heading into his second term at the helm — says he has the same high expectations he’s had for his team in the past.

    “We have a lot of returners this season, and I think they’re going to be the core of what we do this year,” Newman said. “With that experience, I expect us to have a pretty promising year.”

    Last season, the Tritons’ first-place conference finish flew in the face of doubts that a team in transition — under new management, with the remnants of the squad that made the Final Four run back in 2009 mostly gone — would continue the success that has become characteristic of UCSD baseball. The Tritons not only finished with the regular season title, going 26–14 in the CCAA, but UCSD also took the conference tournament crown, pushing them into the NCAA West Regionals.

    UCSD came short of qualifying for the national tournament last season, as the Tritons were bested in the third game of the double-elimination tournament. But despite last season’s lukewarm results, senior centerfielder Danny Susdorf says this group has the raw materials to make it back to the National Championships.

    “I see us, no doubt, going to Cary, North Carolina,” he said. “We have a lot of potential this season.”

    And with very few personnel changes, Susdorf may be right. This season there won’t be much change in the batting order, as the Tritons return every batter from last season’s lineup. Senior All-American Susdorf — program record holder for career and single season triples — will likely remain in the leadoff spot. Junior All-West Region selection will likely remain in the three-spot, followed by CCAA Tournament Most Valuable Player Nick La Face batting cleanup.

    “We have a lot of potential up and down the lineup, guys that you aren’t gonna want to face,” Susdorf said. “We can score runs in a variety of ways, we have speed, we have power and our pitching staff is very strong. We don’t have any holes.”

    In addition to arguably one of the best lineups in the CCAA last year, Newman alludes to a number of freshmen who he believes may see some time at the plate early in the season. Junior transfer Dillon Moyer — son of Jamie Moyer, a pitcher for the Rockies still active last season at the age of 49 — comes to UCSD from UC Irvine and has impressed early on. Newman also expects freshman infielder Andrew Hobson to shore up the lineup.

    “Moyer has really shown and brought a new aspect to our game, he’s a very good defensive and offensive player,” Susdorf said. “I’m also very excited about Hobson. He brings a new life to our team, he has the potential to put the ball out, especially with our field and he is a very good defensive player.”

    UCSD’s major losses were in the bullpen, where they graduated right-hander Greg Selarz, along with closers Elias Tuma and Tony York (currently playing for a minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs). Fortunately, the Tritons retain senior starter Ryan Goodbrand. A transfer from Irvine Valley Community College, Goodbrand served his first season as a Triton in 2012, earning an All-America nod en route to a stellar 11–0 record. Goodbrand will alternate starts on the mound with sophomore southpaw Trevor Scott, while Newman says freshman Troy Cruz will try his hand at closing.

    “We’re really going to miss our closers Tony York and Elias Tuma, but I think the guys we have coming in will definitely be able to step up and help us on the mound,” Newman said.

    The Tritons will play three exhibition games before kicking off the season on February 1, with a home series against Colorado Mesa. Next Monday, Jan. 21, the Tritons will host Concordia Irvine at 6:00 p.m. The following Friday, UCSD hosts CSU San Marcos.

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