Starting Strong

The No. 21 nationally ranked UCSD Tritons continued the hot start to their 2013 season, taking their last three of four games played. The Tritons played a three game set in Phoenix, Arizona against the non-conference Grand Canyon University Antelopes. UCSD clinched the series by winning the first two games, and narrowly missed a series sweep, falling just short in the final game.

“We’ve won two series against two quality teams, with this one in a tough place to play,” UCSD Head Coach Eric Newman said to the UCSD Athletics Department. “We took the first two games here, and were in a position to win the third. That shows me a lot.” GAME 1, FEB. 8: UCSD 10, Grand Canyon 5

The opening game of the series featured UCSD’s ace and NCBWA West Region pitcher of the week, senior Ryan Goodbrand. Goodbrand was dominant, pitching six scoreless innings and striking out five. He carried a no-hit bid into the sixth.

While Goodbrand kept the Antelopes off the board, the Tritons were adding runs, scoring once in the second, third, fourth and fifth for run support. Freshman Corbin Wirta recorded his first career extra-base hit, doubling in the third to bring a runner home. Goodbrand left after six with the Tritons up 4-0, and they continued to add to their lead behind a two RBI triple in the eighth by first baseman Richard Seigel, who finished 2-for-4 with three runs, two RBI and a walk.

The Tritons needed all the runs they could muster, however, as Grand Canyon came storming back with a five-run eighth inning, featuring a three-run homerun by the catcher Paul Swingle. UCSD pushed two more insurance runs across the plate in the top of the ninth to cushion their lead and held on for a 10-5 victory. GAME 2, FEB. 9: UCSD 8, Grand Canyon 7

In the second game of the series the Tritons had to battle back from an early deficit. The Antelopes got on the board early with a RBI triple by Derek Mendoza off UCSD starting pitcher, sophomore Dan Kolodin. UCSD had a triple of their own, as junior Scott Liske tripled in the third, and was hit in by center fielder Danny Susdorf, who finished 3-for-5 with two RBI.

Nevertheless, the Tritons trailed 4-2 entering the eighth. In the eighth the Tritons exploded for six runs, starting with a two RBI homerun by senior Seigel. Susdorf added a RBI single and junior Justin Rahn drove in three runs with a double to left field, as the Tritons jumped out in front 8-4.

Grand Canyon mounted a comeback in the ninth with a pair of RBI singles by Michael Pomeroy and Mendoza but ultimately fell short. The Tritons held on to take the second game and clinch the series.

GAME 3, FEB. 10: UCSD 6, Grand Canyon 5

In the third game of the series, the Tritons jumped out ahead with a two-run first inning. Rahn singled in the first run of the game after a double by shortstop Dillon Moyer, and third baseman Sam Michaels walked to bring Moyer across. UCSD scored twice again in the fourth inning behind a two RBI single by Rahn and took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth.

In the bottom half of the inning, Triton pitcher Trevor Scott, who had no difficulty in the first three innings, ran into trouble by giving up an RBI double and five straight singles. Junior transfer David Hart came on to relieve Scott but gave up two more RBI. In total the Antelopes scored six runs on seven hits and one error and took the lead.

Grand Canyon later scored once more in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Panaccione. The Tritons attempted to come back, scoring twice in the eighth. Seigel singled in a run, and an error by the third baseman allowed another to cross, but the Tritons failed to push across another and dropped the final game of the series. TUESDAY, FEB. 12: UCSD vs Point Loma Nazarene

UCSD 6, Point Loma Nazarene 5

The Tritons then had to pack up and prepare to play again on Tuesday at home against Point Loma Nazarene University. The marathon game started at 6 p.m. and lasted four hours and thirty-seven minutes. The team proved resilient and won a thriller in extra innings. The win brings the Tritons to 5-2 on the season and 3-1 at home. Throughout the game, Point Loma gained leads, but the Tritons kept fighting back to even the score. Point Loma scored first in the second, but UCSD caught up with a bases-loaded walk to Seigel in the third. Point Loma again regained the lead in the fourth, but UCSD battled back in the bottom of the inning with a RBI by Danny Susdorf.

The Tritons changed the tide and surged ahead in the seventh on the strength of Susdorf, who singled, stole second and third and scored on a wild pitch. Susdorf finished 3-for-5 for the game, scoring two runs and adding a RBI. It was Point Loma’s turn to battle back, and scored twice in the eighth and once in the ninth.

UCSD trailed going into the ninth but refused to go down and scored twice in the ninth to tie the game. Point Loma allowed the Tritons to come back, giving up runs on a wild pitch and a walk to Nick La Face.

Junior Sean Rowan pitched two solid innings to shut out Point Loma, striking out three and allowing the Tritons to take the game in the eleventh. Susdorf walked to lead off the inning and later scored thanks to a throwing error by the Point Loma pitcher Stewart Kellen on a sacrifice bunt by Rahn. After an encouraging four games, the Tritons open up a four game series Feb. 15 through Feb. 17 against Cal State Stanislaus, including a double-header on Saturday. The upcoming series is their first against a California Collegiate Athletic Association conference opponent. The games are home at Triton Ballpark, with the first pitch this Friday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m.