UC San Diego’s baseball team brought their win streak to five games after a win against the University of Hawai’i (24–21, 16–19 Big West), before losing in the second game of the doubleheader. In the first match, UCSD (20–27, 17–18 Big West) used a late rally in the eighth inning to take home the victory 4–2. Hawai’i then responded in the second game with a 5–2 victory.
In the first game on this May 22 doubleheader, the Tritons looked to senior pitcher Noah Conlon to stymie the Rainbow Warriors offense. Through five innings that went mostly swimmingly, Conlon allowed no runs. The Triton offense had yet to catch fire however, leaving Conlon with the responsibility of keeping the game within reach.
After an admirable performance, Conlon was pulled after allowing the bases to be loaded, and was replaced by sophomore pitcher Isaak Martinez, who recorded the victory for the Tritons. Martinez found a way to get the requisite two outs after inheriting three base runners to only one out, and the Tritons escaped the jam. In the seventh, the Warriors gave the first punch by scoring two off of Martinez, forcing the burden onto the Tritons offense.
The offense answered the call, and scored four timely runs in the eighth inning to put the Tritons up by two runs, 4–2, which would end up being the final score. Three doubles punctuated by a two-run double by sophomore first baseman Jackson Kritsch fueled this rally that turned the tides of this game. The offensive explosion in the late innings did not continue, though, as no more runs were scored for the game. Senior closer Michael Mitchell made sure of that, recording a two-inning save for his sixth of the season.
Game two started with more offense on both sides. The top of the first started with a double for junior shortstop Michael Fuhrman, giving the Tritons an early opportunity to score from their leadoff hitter. Fuhrman was able to score, but Hawai’i responded with a quick score of their own off of Triton sophomore starting pitcher Aren Alvarez.
The back-and-forth continued with UCSD getting an RBI walk to put the team up by one in the third inning, only to have Hawai’i load the bases and score one run in the bottom of the third. Fuhrman scored his second run early for UCSD after the walk, and the team needed some more offense to keep pace in what was on pace to be a much higher scoring game than the one prior.
UCSD had trouble getting runners into scoring position after their second run, while Hawai’i took the lead in the fifth inning with another single run. UCSD just simply could not find the catalyst it needed, but the game was still within reach. A few more innings without much offense to speak of went by, but Hawai’i looked to put the game away with two seven-inning runs, bringing the deficit to 5–2.
The Tritons had three errors on the day, helping Hawai’i take the advantage, but the team’s tough defensive showing did not completely take them out of the game yet. Just when there seemed to be waning hope in the top of the ninth down by three runs, the Tritons began to figure out the long relief pitcher Hawai’i had used for most of the game. Two base runners with no one out gave UCSD hope to have an explosion and extend their winning streak.
While the effort was valiant, it came too late. Hawai’i brought in another pitcher who got three straight outs to end the game, and just like that, the game was over. UCSD fought through an anemic offense and bad fielding to grit their way into having a chance at the end of the game, but did not get the desired result. As coach Eric Newman put it to UCSD Athletics, “We had some chances early in that game to bust it open and just couldn’t square anything up. Then late game mistakes defensively cost us.”
The doubleheader was not ideal for the Tritons, especially considering all the momentum that they had coming into this slate. Still, after these games, the team has won eight of the last ten and will look to finish the series out strong with the last road game of the season coming Sunday, May 23 against Hawai’i, as the Tritons look to regain momentum and get back to .500 in league play.
Photo courtesy of UC San Diego Athletics