Sweeping to Seven

    Sweeping to Seven

    UCSD goes four-for-four in series against Cal State L.A. to extend win streak to seven games. 

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    Photo by Nhan Nguyen/Guardian File

    The No. 29 nationally ranked UCSD baseball team swept a four-game series against Cal State Los Angeles over the weekend, bringing its winning streak to seven, an all-season best. The Tritons, who played the first two contests at home before visiting Cal State Los Angeles for the final two games, moved to 21–10 overall and 17–7 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association play.

    This weekend’s sweep puts UCSD in the third qualifying spot for the league championship in early May. The Tritons will meet three of the bottom four teams in the CCAA for their final 12 conference games of the year, all but guaranteeing a postseason berth.

    Thursday’s opener saw the Triton squad best Cal State Los Angeles 6–3 and sophomore right-hander Justin Donatella (5–1) throw his fifth win of the year. Leading the UCSD pitching staff, Donatella allowed two earned runs, both coming in the first frame off of a double across eight innings. Senior Scott Zeman relieved Donatella to throw a perfect ninth inning and record his fourth save of the 2014 campaign.

    Triton bats overcame a 3–0 deficit to clinch the 6–3 win by mounting a comeback in the seventh. Junior infielder Erik Lewis made the play of the game when he drove in a crucial run batted in late in the game to give UCSD the win. Sophomore Troy Cruz, the only Triton to start all 31 games, finished 2-for-3 on the night and earned a walk, triple, run and RBI.

    Game two at Triton Ballpark on Friday saw a 4–3 victory for UCSD. The Tritons erased another 3–0 deficit, finding the win after freshman outfielder Jack Larsen singled to center and drove in two for a walk-off victory in the ninth.

    “It’s always a good feeling coming in clutch for your team,” Larsen said. “We kept on battling, stayed with our approach and came up big again.”

    In the third contest, the Tritons slugged a season-best 19 hits off the Golden Eagles’ staff to score 13 runs. Freshman outfielder Brandon Shirley started the offensive onslaught with a leadoff double on the second pitch of the game, unnerving Cal State Los Angeles starter Greg Humbert early on.

    Shirley went 3-for-4 in his first leadoff performance, racking up two doubles and two runs. Junior first baseman Michael Mann saw his second four-RBI performance with a team-topping 28 RBI on the year to round out the 13–2 win.

    Cruz (4–2) took the mound for the seventh time this season to pitch a seven-inning shutout in the nightcap — the first single-pitcher shutout for UCSD in 2014. Offenses appeared stagnant for both teams during the final game of the series, as the score was 2–0 after all seven frames. Freshman outfielder Christian Leung and senior infielder Garrett Tuck each finished the game with their first two-hit performances of 2014.

    With regular season play coming to a close, the Tritons appear to be producing their best baseball thus far going into the final stretch of conference action.

    “Every game from here on out is important,” UCSD head coach Eric Newman said. “When you’re in a hunt, every game means something and they don’t get less important as the season goes on.”

    UCSD continues to play on the road in the coming week with a nonconference matchup against No. 18 California Baptist University on Wednesday, April 9 at 6 p.m. preceding a four-game CCAA series at Cal State Stanislaus next weekend.

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