Triton Baseball Caps Off Trolley Series With Win Over SDSU

In this final Trolley Series matchup, the UC San Diego men’s baseball team (19–23, 9–9 Big West) faced off against their local rivals, the San Diego State University Aztecs (14–33, 6–15 Big West) on Tuesday, May 3. The Tritons entered this match on a five-game win streak, following 2 wins against California State University, Bakersfield, and their dominating three-game series sweep versus UC Riverside the previous weekend. The Tritons won that sweep against UC Riverside by an average of 8.6 runs throughout the three-game series, and so the Tritons hoped to carry their outstanding performance into this game versus their crosstown foes, the San Diego State Aztecs. 

With yet another compelling performance, UCSD defeated San Diego State, 9–6, in the finale of the Trolley Series at Tony Gwynn Stadium. With the win, the Tritons improved to 3–1 in their season series versus the Aztecs, marking the first season-series win in UCSD’s program history between the two opposing teams.

The Tritons got off to a sizzling start at the top of the first inning with a leadoff triple by sophomore outfielder Luke Saunders. The triple by Saunders was quickly followed up with an RBI single by junior infielder Jalen Smith, which brought in an early first run to put the Tritons up 1–0. Smith was then able to advance to third base on a failed pickoff attempt by the Aztecs, and junior catcher Marc Filia brought Smith across home plate with a sacrifice fly, giving the Tritons an early 2–0 lead in the match. 

The first 3 defensive innings for the Tritons displayed an exemplary performance by junior left-handed pitcher Izaak Martinez. With this game marking Martinez’s first start of the season, the lefty pitcher performed very highly for the Tritons, retiring all 9 Aztec batters in order throughout the game’s first 3 innings, which included 3 strikeouts. While the Tritons were not able to capitalize on the strong output by Martinez, only having 1 single-base hit by Luke Saunders and not bringing in any additional runs throughout the second and third innings, Martinez kept the Triton’s early 2–0 lead safe and secure, pitching three shutout innings without allowing a single hit by the Aztecs. 

The top of the fourth inning kicked off with a single to center field by freshman catcher Emiliano Gonzalez, who then was able to advance to second base on a wild pitch. Following a hit-by-pitch on senior infielder Michael Fuhrman, and a bunt single by senior infielder Ryan McNally, the bases were loaded for the Tritons. With bases loaded, junior infielder Crew Robinson came up to bat and doubled to left-center in tremendous fashion, bringing in all three players on the bases for the Tritons, and increasing their lead to 5–0. Following a sacrifice bunt by sophomore infielder Noah Sudyka, Robinson proceeded to advance to third base, and then came across home plate after a fielding error by the Aztecs, which gave the Tritons a commanding 6–0 lead in the game. The Tritons would finally be retired in the inning after a ground out by Emiliano Gonzalez, but not before the Tritons had built a secure lead against their rivals.

The Aztecs would finally break through in the bottom of the fifth inning, though, with a solo home run by their first baseman TJ Fondtain. The Tritons would immediately respond, as sophomore outfielder Brock Kleszcz, who came into the game as a pinch hitter for freshman pitcher Austin Smith, would land a two-run homer for the Tritons, and would give the Tritons an 8–1 lead in the ballgame.

The game would stay relatively quiet for the following 2 innings, with both teams playing well defensively. However, the Aztecs would cut into the Triton deficit in the bottom of the eighth inning, capitalizing on 4 total hits and a couple of fielding errors to bring in 3 runs for San Diego State, slashing the UCSD lead to 8–4..

The Tritons would get a run back, however, at the top of the ninth inning, with an RBI single by Emiliano Gonzalez, which scored Jalen Smith from second base following Smith’s double to start off the inning. The Tritons would enter the bottom of the ninth inning leading 9–4, in hopes of closing out the game once and for all against SDSU. While the Aztecs did attempt a strong rally at the bottom of the ninth, scoring 2 runs on 2 hits to make the game closer at 9–6, the Tritons’ lead would prove to be too much to overcome, as they would end the inning on a strikeout by sophomore pitcher Joey Soberon, securing the first Trolley Series win for UCSD.

After publication of this article, the Tritons will head north for their next two series. UCSD will take on Pac-12 foe University of Oregon on May 10 and 11, before three Big West contests at UC Davis on May 13–15.

Image courtesy of Mike McGinnis / UC San Diego Athletics

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