Tritons Win Crucial League Series

    Tritons Win Crucial League Series

    UCSD wins three out of its four-game series against CCAA foe Cal State East Bay at Pioneer Ballpark. 

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    Photo by Nhan Nguyen/Guardian File

    The No. 30 UCSD baseball team took a critical California Collegiate Athletic Association series against Cal State East Bay on March 30 on the road at Pioneer Ballpark. The Tritons split the first doubleheader on Friday, March 28 and swept the final two games of the series, which  were delayed until Sunday due to inclement weather. The victories moved UCSD to 17–10 overall and 13–7 in the CCAA, good for fourth place in the league.

    The Pioneers sealed game one with a walk-off victory, achieving their only win of the series after bringing three runners home in the bottom of the ninth.

    Sophomore right-hander Justin Donatella started on the mound for UCSD and shut out nine batters between the third and fifth innings. After an inning-for-inning pitching duel, Donatella’s stride was ended early in the sixth when his first ball thrown was hit as a leadoff double to left field. A few batters later, a run batted in single to center broke the tie and brought the score to 2–1. The Triton offense capitalized on the opportunity and drove in two batters over the next few innings, compared to the Pioneers’ gain of one, bringing the score to 4–2 at the end of the seventh.

    Donatella was relieved by senior right-hander Scott Zeman in the eighth frame who sat down three consecutive batters. However, Zeman ran into trouble in the ninth after an infield error put a Pioneer on base. Zeman proceeded to issue a walk and surrender a single. With the bases loaded, a single by Tyler Buchanan two pitches later sent the winning run home for Cal State East Bay.

    In game two, sophomore out-fielder Gradeigh Sanchez opened the seven-inning nightcap with his first career triple and was batted home by senior catcher Nick La Face on a groundout two batters later. The Pioneers responded by scoring three runs in their next at-bat, making it through their entire order before the Tritons could turnover the inning. UCSD earned one run in the third to decrease the Pioneer lead to one run at 3–2.

    Back-to-back singles opened the fourth for UCSD, and an errant throw off a bunt from freshman shortstop Tyler Howsley allowed sophomore Troy Cruz to score the tying run. Sanchez and junior second-baseman Erik Lewis produced a run batted in double each to give the Tritons the lead. La Face followed with his 25th walk of the year to load the bases, and senior outfielder Justin Rahn added a run off an RBI double to bring the score to 6–3.

    The Tritons built their lead over the following frames to win 10–3.

    “We got great starting pitching, but we’ve come to expect that from our guys,” Triton head coach Eric Newman told UCSD Athletics. “Both Donny and Trevor settled in and pitched well. Honestly, I thought Scott [Zeman] threw the ball well, too. We just didn’t make a couple of plays behind him that we needed to make and made things tough for him.”

    In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, eight Pioneer errors allowed UCSD to rack up 17 hits and seven unearned runs, a season high. Senior right-hander Blake Fassler threw perfect innings in the second, third and fifth while only allowing three singles across six innings.

    Rahn scored the game’s first run in the second inning off of an errant throw. Howsley followed a few batters later to hit an RBI, and freshman Jack Larsen scored to bring the UCSD lead to 3–0. The Tritons increased their lead by one in the third after La Face hit his 10th double on the season.

    UCSD continued to rout the Pioneer pitching staff throughout the remaining innings en route to a 12–0 victory.

    Troy Cruz, the only Triton to have started all 27 games, closed out the series on the mound by pitching a complete game — the third of his career and his second on the year — in Sunday’s second contest. Cal State East Bay was plagued with errors again in the final game, allowing the Tritons to pull away with a 5–2 victory.

    “We showed great tenacity at the plate and competitive spirit,” Newman said. “I’m really proud of the way the guys responded [after the way the series started].”

    UCSD hosts Cal State Los Angeles tonight at Triton Ballpark with the first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. The Tritons will play four games against the Golden Eagles, hosting two of them and finishing the series in Los Angeles in a doubleheader on Saturday. Cal State Los Angeles is placed right behind UCSD in CCAA standings, making the series crucial for the Tritons’ postseason hopes.

     

     

     

     

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