Dropping out of the national rankings last weekend after going 1-for-6 at the Division II Leadoff Classic, UCSD split its first conference series against Sonoma State this week at home.
For the past two seasons, the matchup between UCSD and the No. 19 Seawolves has promised the tightest pitching duels in the conference, between 2012 UCSD graduate Camille Gaito and Sonoma ace Samantha Lipperd. Last weekend, Lipperd and company kept the Tritons to just four runs in the four-game series, while Lipperd allowed just three hits in her two full games. In contrast, the Tritons did not show much in the way of defense, as sophomores Kayla Hensel, Michelle Escamilla and freshman Alexis Edwards combined to give up 17 runs.
UCSD will now prepare for its first conference road series. The Tritons will travel up to Cal State Monterey Bay this weekend, March 1 and March 2. The Otters are 10–7 after going 1–2 against Cal State East Bay.
GAME 1 — Sonoma State 4, UCSD 0
Freshman leadoff hitter Callie Grant was the only Triton to record a hit against the Seawolves in the series opener. Grant notched a double in the bottom of the first but was stranded after the next three Tritons popped up and out.
Sonoma State catcher Kelsi Chinen homered in the top of the second inning to give the Seawolves the early 1–0 lead. Sonoma State kept piling on from there, adding two runs in the fourth inning and one run in the sixth.
GAME 2 — UCSD 3, Sonoma State 2
The Tritons fared far better with Lipperd off the mound, tallying 11 hits against the Otters.
UCSD went down by two runs early and did not manage to get on the board until the fourth inning, when freshman Amani Proctor — pinch-running for junior Caitlin Brown — was brought around the bases to bring the Tritons to within one point. UCSD picked up its second run in the fifth inning as junior Emily McQuaid doubled to left field and was advanced to third off a sacrifice bunt. McQuaid was brought home by a double by Nicole Spangler — her sixth double of the season.
The Tritons took the lead in the bottom of the seventh off another RBI from Spangler brought McQuaid in to score.
GAME 3 — Sonoma State 11, UCSD 1
UCSD recorded its only run in the bottom of the first inning. Grant — batting leadoff — singled to start, stole second and was brought home from a single by cleanup hitter Brown.
After a solid start by freshman southpaw Edwards, UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens relieved the freshman with sophomore Escamilla, who got taken for four runs in the third inning.
Neither team was able to generate any offense for the next four frames, until the Seawolves recorded five runs in the top of the seventh inning.
GAME 4 — UCSD 1, Sonoma State 0
Junior right-hander Jennifer Manuel — recently removed from the disabled list — went eight innings against the Seawolves, giving up just two hits. The 1–0 win marks Manuel’s second of the season. The junior has allowed just eight runs in her 22.1 innings pitched, for an ERA of just 1.25.
The Tritons recorded the only run of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, as redshirt sophomore Taylor Sepulveda doubled to right center, advanced to third on a fielding error and slid home on a throwing error.