Tritons win three games in series versus CCAA opponent Cal State San Bernardino.
Winning three out of four games over Cal State San Bernardino this weekend, the No. 20 UCSD baseball team won its final series of the regular season this past Thursday through Saturday. The Tritons (32–14, 26–10 overall) head into the postseason third overall in league standings and will first face second-seeded Chico State University this Thursday in the California Collegiate Athletic Association conference tournament.
UCSD took two games over Cal State San Bernardino on Friday in San Bernardino before returning to Triton Ballpark to split Saturday’s Senior Day doubleheader.
In the series opener on Thursday, redshirt freshman outfield Brandon Shirley put the Tritons on the board in the second inning with a two-run double. The Triton offense would total seven more runs in the game while the Coyotes struggled offensively in the 9–2 UCSD victory.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Justin Donatella, on a pitch limit to save his arm for the upcoming postseason, threw four frames and allowed six hits and two runs. Senior right-handed pitcher David Hart took the next two innings on the mound and threw out the Coyotes in order in the sixth for a short outing. By the final pitch, UCSD had worked through five of its staff, giving each a chance to throw in preparation for the postseason later in May.
“This was a great team win,” UCSD head coach Eric Newman said to the Athletics Department. “We got contributions from a lot of guys, and our bullpen really did a nice job putting up zeroes and passing the baton.”
The Tritons repeated their nine-run performance on Friday, beating the Coyotes 9–6 in the series’ second contest. Both teams put two on the board in the first frame, but UCSD pulled ahead in the third and maintained its lead throughout. Junior left-handed pitcher Trevor Scott shutdown Coyote bats, and the Tritons extended their lead by three in the seventh. The ninth inning saw Cal State San Bernardino rally to score three, but the Coyotes were unable to close the gap. Scott struck out six over seven frames, allowing only three runs on eight hits and no walks.
“I thought Trevor [Scott] was outstanding today,” Newman said. “He pitched around some tough luck and really executed well. Offensively, we were good in spurts and I liked how we started the game the first three innings.”
Back at Triton Ballpark for the series-closing doubleheader on Saturday, the Tritons celebrated their seven seniors — right-handed pitcher Blake Fassler, infield Spencer Frazier, catcher Nick La Face, Hart, outfield/left-handed pitcher Justin Rahn, infield Garrett Tuck and right-handed pitcher Scott Zeman — before starting action. Offensive powerhouses La Face and Rahn will leave hard-to-fill holes in the order after both having league-leading seasons in 2014. La Face was also recently honored with Capital One All-District Academic Honors for his second year in a row.
Game one of the doubleheader started with Coyote success at the plate, leading to their 4–0 lead after the visitor seventh. However, with two away in the bottom of the seventh, UCSD benefitted from the Cal State San Bernardino staff walking five straight, leading to the Tritons’ first run. La Face capitalized in the following at bat by hitting his league-best fifth triple this year, clearing the bases and knotting up the game. Junior first base/outfield Michael Mann followed two batters later with an RBI single, and Shirley knocked in another in the eighth frame to close the scoring and seal a 6–4 comeback win. Hart went 3.2 innings on the mound, a career-long at UCSD, and recorded his first win as a Triton.
UCSD broke its six-game win streak in the final game of the series, losing 3–4 in the nightcap. Sophomore infield/right-handed pitcher Troy Cruz took the mound for the 11th time and allowed Cal State San Bernardino to rally from behind in the seventh to rebuttal with a comeback victory of its own.
With the regular season behind them, the Tritons now prepare for the CCAA conference championships taking place this Thursday through Saturday in Stockton, California. Facing No. 6 Chico State, UCSD split its only series against the Wildcats this season. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Banner Island Ballpark.