Stellar pitching drives Tritons to opening night victory

Stellar pitching drives Tritons to opening night victory
Photo by Keita Kobayashi/ UCSD Guardian

America’s pastime is back! The only facet of life where failing seven times out of 10 lands you in the Hall of Fame. For those who just finished midterms, hopefully you hit better than .300. If not, you certainly performed better than San Jose State, who hit 1–27 (.037) on Friday night, courtesy of the Tritons’ lights-out pitching staff.

 

The UC San Diego Tritons (2–0, 0–0 Big West) — the reigning Big West champions — hosted the San Jose State Spartans (0–2, 0–0 Mountain West) — the reigning Mountain West champions — on Friday night at Triton Ballpark to open the 2024 season. 

 

Both the players on the field and the fans in the stands were amped from the opening pitch. The first 500 fans received 2023 Big West Champions commemorative hats, so the Triton faithful were in the stands 45 minutes prior to the first inning. In fact, the front two rows were filled with numerous MLB scouts, many of whom had their eyes (and radar guns) on the Tritons’ starting pitcher, 6-foot-3 inch junior Ryan Forcucci.

 

Forcucci and the boys on the diamond showed no signs of a championship hangover. The Big West Preseason Coaches Poll picked UCSD to finish third this year, and the Tritons took that personally. Be it the scouts in the stands or the coaches’ dubiety in the polls, something had the Tritons ready to go at 6 p.m. sharp under the lights. 

 

After a 1-2-3 first inning by both teams, the Tritons’ bats sprung to life in the second inning. Redshirt junior first baseman Doyle Kane led off with a single. Redshirt sophomore DH Patrick Hackworth followed with a bloop single into right field, and senior catcher Emiliano Gonzales did the same to load the bases. With ducks on the pond, senior left fielder Brock Kleszcz grounded into a double play to score the game’s first run. The Tritons would leave a runner stranded on third base.

 

In the third inning, senior shortstop Noah Sudyka led off with a four-pitch walk. Sudyka advanced to second on a passed ball and then to third on a groundout to the right side of the infield. Senior second baseman Benjamin Rosengard stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on third. Rosengard roped a two-strike RBI single into left field to score Sudyka and put the Tritons up 2–0.

 

On the other side of the diamond, the Spartans had nothing going for them. The MLB scouts were there to see Forcucci, and he did not disappoint. The junior threw 4 perfect innings, including 8 strikeouts, no walks, and no baserunners allowed. In the fifth inning, the Spartans manufactured their first (and only) hit of the game on an infield single. Forcucci pitched 5 innings and tallied 11 strikeouts, no walks, no runs, and just one hit.

 

Redshirt senior Izaak Martinez took over the pitching duties in the sixth inning. Martinez plunked the leadoff hitter, who would eventually score the Spartans’ lone run of the night after a bunt, passed ball, and a two-out throwing error. Despite a grim start, Martinez gathered himself and brought the Tritons home the rest of the way. Martinez threw 4 no-hit innings and tallied 8 strikeouts, no walks, one HBP, and one unearned run. Overall, it was a great night to be a Triton pitcher.

 

In the bottom of the sixth, the Tritons scored the final run of the game. Kane led off the inning with an HBP and eventually advanced to second base on a two-out passed ball. Kleszcz smoked a line drive single into the right-center field gap to score Kane. Kleszcz’s single was the first hit for the Tritons since the third inning, and it extended their lead to 3-1. They never looked back.

 

After the game, Triton fans rejoiced in their freshly-earned championship hats, while Spartan sorrow vacated the ballpark and into the chilly night.

 

On Saturday, the Tritons won round 2 against the Spartans, 15–0, to move to 2–0 on the season. The Tritons look to continue their dominant play on Tuesday, Feb. 20 on the road against USC. They will return to La Jolla on Friday to take on Utah, Missouri, and LMU in the Tony Gwynn Legacy tournament.

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About the Contributors
Wyatt Bose, Staff Writer
Wyatt is a first-year political science student, an ardent sports-watcher, an impassioned Philadelphia sports fan, and the founder of his sports blog, "The Cogent Column."
Keita Kobayashi, Photo Associate Editor
Photo team, best team (W.I.P)
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