The No. 7 UC San Diego baseball team put itself one victory away from clinching the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular season title with a huge 4-1 win over Cal State San Bernardino Thursday night at Triton Ballpark. The 14th straight win for UCSD, it was the first contest of a four-game series between the two league rivals.
With three games remaining in the regular season, UCSD is 35-12 overall and sits in first place in the CCAA at 26-11. A 27th victory would secure the Tritons' third consecutive title and give them a top seed in next week's CCAA Tournament in Stockton, Calif.
Once again, senior righty Tim Shibuya (10-3) threw a gem for the Tritons, giving up just the one run on six hits over eight full innings. The Wyoming native, who's won his last four starts, struck out six batters and walked just one. Shibuya lowered his ERA from 2.27 to 2.17 with the performance. He leads the league in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched.
UC San Diego scored twice in the first inning and tacked on another two in the seventh to ice the win. The Tritons out-hit the Coyotes 13-7, but did strand eight runners on base.
Four different players scored the runs and four different players drove in the runs. Right fielder Kyle Saul had three hits and a RBI, while four others had two hits apiece. Left fielder Aaron Bauman and center fielder Danny Susdorf each had two hits, scored a run and drove in a run. The lone RBI that didn't come from an outfielder went to first baseman Blake Tagmyer. All three outfielders had doubles, while Tagmyer ripped his second triple of the season in the third.
Daniel Simmons came on for Shibuya in the ninth. After giving up a leadoff double to second baseman Erik Ornelas, he struck out the next two batters and got the third on a fly ball for his third consecutive save.
Ornelas was the only Coyote with more than one hit as he went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. Aaron Brooks (5-7) took the loss, going 6.1 innings and surrendering four runs on 10 hits. He had no strikeouts and didn't walk any batters. Josh Lee and Kyle Krogman kept the Tritons scoreless after Brooks was removed.
Cal State San Bernardino fell to 23-20 overall and 20-15 in the CCAA. The Coyotes are in fourth place and still alive for a slot in the four-team league tourney.
After Shibuya recorded a pair of Ks in the first inning, UCSD struck for two one-out runs in the bottom half. Four straight hits by Bauman, DH Nick La Face, Tagmyer and Saul led to the runs. La Face scored the eventual game-winning run when Saul singled through the left side of the infield.
Cal State San Bernardino plated its run in the third inning. Catcher Eric Dow reached on an infield single and advanced to second on the same play when the throw across the infield was way off target. He then took third on a ground out and came home on a ground rule double by center fielder Ethan Chapman.
The Tritons added two insurance runs in the seventh. With one out, shortstop Garrett Tuck singled and scored on a double by Susdorf in the next at-bat, knocking Brooks out of the game. Bauman promptly doubled off reliever Josh Lee, scoring Susdorf and putting UCSD up 4-1.
UCSD and CSUSB meet again at Triton Ballpark on Friday. As it's the final regular season home game, the 14 seniors on the Triton roster will be recognized in a pre-game ceremony starting at 5:35 p.m. with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. All fans can grab a free burrito, courtesy of Chipotle, at the field. Tickets are available at Triton Ballpark starting one hour prior to the game. UCSD students are admitted free with a valid ID.