Photo Courtesy UCSD Athletics
Coming off a 3-1 series win versus Sonoma State University, the No. 3 UC San Diego Tritons baseball team kept things rolling, sweeping the visiting San Francisco State University Gators with a 4–3 win on Friday, Feb. 28, and a pair of wins in the Saturday doubleheader. With the wins, UCSD moves to 14-3 on year, which includes an 8-3 conference record.
While the Friday win proved tougher to snag, the doubleheader wins proved much easier. In game one, the Tritons were victorious by a score of 10–7. A three-run eighth inning was ultimately the difference in this one, as sophomore reliever Michael Mitchell recorded the win.
In the final game of the series, UCSD completed the series sweep, winning 6–0, carried to the win by senior ace Brandon Weed who went the distance (7 innings) and limited the Gators to just 1 hit.
The Friday win set the tone for the rest of the series. In that one, the Tritons’ offense provided just enough to squeeze out the victory, riding on a solid performance from junior starting pitcher Cameron Leonard, who received heavy applause from the crowd upon his departure in the seventh inning. The Hemet High School product got the win and went 6 and two-thirds innings while giving up 3 runs on just 5 hits.
Head coach Eric Newman had high praise for Leonard. “He was able to get through the lineup a few times by just commanding his fastball well and getting ahead,” Newman said.
Leonard’s fastball induced a good deal of ground outs for the Tritons, including a double play that got the team out of a jam in the second inning, which helped him get deep into the ballgame.
Reigning California Collegiate Athletic Association MVP sophomore shortstop Shay Whitcomb flashed some power and put the Tritons ahead, 1–0, after a no-doubter to left-center field in the second inning. Junior designated hitter Anthony Luccetti and senior first baseman Blake Baumgartner both had a pair of hits and scored in the third inning after a key at-bat by redshirt junior catcher Aaron Kim. Kim sent the 10th pitch of the at-bat right back up the middle for a two-run single to put UCSD ahead 3–0.
Sophomore utility man Ryan McNally also had a solid game notching 2 hits and making a heads up play in the sixth inning, extending a single into a double after the center fielder bobbled the ball in the outfield.
“He’s been really putting together great at-bats for us over the course of the last week and a half and I felt like this was going to be a good opportunity to get him in the lineup and help us out,” Newman said.
Despite a late scare from SFSU, who had a three-run rally in the seventh inning, UCSD and Mitchell shut down any chance at a Gator comeback after pitching back-to-back scoreless innings in the final 2 innings. Mitchell was fun to watch in the closing role, going 2 and one-third innings while only surrendering 1 hit and striking out 5 Gator batters.