UCSD Splits at SFSU, Clinches Playoff Berth

    Photo by Nhan Nguyen/GUARDIAN
    Photo by Nhan Nguyen/GUARDIAN

    No. 18 Tritons take two out of four against SFSU to qualify for May’s CCAA conference tournament. 

    Photo by Nhan Nguyen/GUARDIAN
    Photo by Nhan Nguyen/GUARDIAN

    For the first time since 2012, the No. 18 UCSD baseball team has clinched a postseason appearance in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships after taking two games over San Francisco State University on the road this past week. After splitting the series against the Gators, the Tritons are now 27–13 overall and 23–9 in league play, good enough to guarantee a top-four finish in the CCAA by the season’s end.

    San Francisco State downed UCSD 7–6 in Thursday’s series opener, breaking the Tritons’ 11-game win streak in the CCAA. In UCSD’s recent fashion of come-from-behind victories, the Tritons overcame a two-run deficit to lead 4–2 after the visitor half in the sixth inning, only for the Gators to tie once again in the bottom of the inning. UCSD would allow three more runs going into the ninth inning, only producing two runs in the top of the frame to close the game.

    Friday’s doubleheader would prove to be a different story, with UCSD slaughtering the Gators 17–3 in the opening game before a 3–1 loss in the nightcap.

    Junior southpaw Trevor Scott (4–2) started for the Tritons on the mound, settling in and holding San Francisco to three runs on four hits across six frames. UCSD, leading 6–3 going into the ninth inning, exploded offensively in the closing frame by racking up 17 hits on the home team and sending 11 runners across the plate. Redshirt freshman outfielder Brandon Shirley started the surge by sending a ball out of the park for the first time in his collegiate career. Senior outfielder Justin Rahn also sent four runners home in the final inning off a two-run double and a two-run single.

    Senior righthander Blake Fassler (4–3) took the loss on the mound in the nightcap, pitching 5.2 innings and allowing three runs on three hits. UCSD failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded opportunity in the first inning and failed to produce offensively throughout, tallying only four hits with two of them off the bat of sophomore infielder Troy Cruz.

    Cruz (6–2), the only Triton to start all 40 games, took the mound for the ninth time this season for the final game of the series on Saturday. Cruz pitched six innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits to get the winning decision and the series split.

    Only Sonoma State, in second place, and Chico State, now in first place, are ranked ahead of the Tritons in the CCAA. With two series remaining in the regular season, UCSD is poised to be a top contender in the postseason.

    “I believe in our starting pitching and our defense, and any championship team is going to have that,” UCSD assistant coach Rob Avila said. “We’ve proven that we can play with the best teams in the country, and when we do those things at a high level, we’re as good as anybody.”

    UCSD will meet Azusa Pacific University in a nonconference series next weekend with the first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 26. The Tritons will end regular season play the following weekend against Cal State San Bernardino before heading to the CCAA Championships in Stockton, now just under three weeks away.

     
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