UC San Diego men’s baseball (11–19, 3–5 Big West) lost their second straight game of a 3-game home series against UC Irvine (19–10, 8–3 Big West) on Saturday. The Tritons entered the series on a two-game losing streak, following losses against the University of San Diego and California State University, Long Beach.
In Friday’s series opener, the Tritons found themselves down by a large deficit early in the game, trailing 9–0 heading into the bottom of the second inning. UCSD’s first run scored came in the second when senior catcher Blake FitzGerald hit a triple down the right field line, bringing home junior outfielder Marc Filia, who drew a walk earlier in the inning. The Tritons finished the inning with 2 total runs scored, including a sacrifice fly from freshman first baseman Matt Halbach, bringing Fitzgerald home off of his triple and making the score 9–2.
Despite still being down by a large margin, UCSD displayed resilience in the innings that followed. In the bottom of the third, UCSD junior third baseman Jalen Smith hit a solo homer, cutting Irvine’s lead to 6. Later on in the bottom of the fifth, the Tritons scored 3 more runs. The first run of the fifth came on a sacrifice fly by freshman right fielder Austin Smith, scoring sophomore second baseman Noah Sudyka. This followed with another key offensive contribution from Blake FitzGerald, this time a double down the middle of the infield, bringing home teammates Jalen Smith and junior center fielder Luke Glascoe. UCSD rallied from a rough start to make the score 9–6 after 5 innings of play.
Although the game was looking as if a comeback was in store for UCSD following the fifth inning, the Tritons were only able to muster up one more run for the remainder of the game. UC Irvine tacked on a couple more runs in the final third of the game, including a walk in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, bringing home their sophomore catcher to give them a 4-run lead. Irvine’s last run came off the bat of sophomore left fielder Caden Kendle, who homered to make the game 11–6 in the top of the ninth, essentially icing Irvine’s victory. The final score for Friday’s game was 11–7, with the Anteaters taking the series opener. Irvine’s star relief pitcher Gordon Ingebritson was rewarded with the win, as he moved to a flawless 5–0 record this season.
Saturday’s game saw the Tritons once again having to crawl back from a considerable deficit early in the ballgame, as they trailed the Anteaters 5–0 after the first inning. UC Irvine came out of the gates aggressive at the plate, accumulating a total of 6 hits in the top of the first. UCSD scored their first run of the game on a sacrifice fly by senior shortstop Michael Fuhrman, bringing his teammate Marc Filia home, making the score 5–1 in the bottom of the second.
The third and fourth innings did not see any scoring between either teams, but in the fifth inning, the scoring picked up again. The Anteaters scored an additional 4 runs on 5 hits in the top of the 5th inning, making the game 9–1. For the second game in a row, the Tritons were able to trim UC Irvine’s large lead by continuing to keep their heads in the game and not giving up. UCSD scored 2 runs in the bottom of the fifth when Noah Sudyka hit a 2-run blast to left field, scoring himself and Michael Fuhrman, cutting Irvine’s lead to 6. In the sixth inning, UCSD’s senior first baseman Ryan McNally hit a 2-run home run of his own, followed by an RBI single by Marc Filia in the bottom of the seventh inning, making the score 9–6.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Anteaters answered back with a two-run home run by redshirt junior second baseman Justin Torres, giving UC Irvine an 11–6 lead. Although the Tritons were able to score 3 more runs in the bottom of the eighth, their late efforts fell just short as UC Irvine won Saturday’s game 11–9, in what was another high-scoring affair.
After the game on Saturday, Tritons head coach Eric Newman spoke to the UCSD Guardian on the resilience he saw from his team despite the rough starts in the first two games of the series.
“I thought the guys continued to stay ready to go. We fought all the way back again and had a couple of opportunities to win. I think from that standpoint, I think the guys understood it was going to be a challenge, but they were up for it,” Newman said.
Following their series against UC Irvine, the Tritons will take on UC Santa Barbara in a 3-game series from Thursday through Saturday, April 14 to 16.
Image courtesy of Mike McGinnis / UC San Diego Athletics