Tritons stay alive in NCAA West Regional

UCSD's Kyle Saul avoids a pickoff Friday against Western Oregon. Photo: Phil Dailey
UCSD's Kyle Saul avoids a pickoff Friday against Western Oregon. Photo: Phil Dailey

Aaron Bauman had three hits and drove in two runs and Guido Knudson went the distance to lead top seed UC San Diego to a 6-3 victory over second-seeded Western Oregon in an elimination game of the NCAA Division II Baseball West Regional on Friday afternoon at Triton Ballpark.

After getting shut out for the first time since 2008 in a 4-0 setback against No. 4 seed Sonoma State on Thursday, sixth-ranked UCSD (42-14) bounced back on Friday, posting six runs on 10 hits to stay alive in the double elimination tournament. The Tritons, 1-1 at the Regional, advance to face No. 3 seed Cal Poly Pomona in the loser's bracket final on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. The Broncos, also 1-1, were steamrolled by Sonoma State in Friday's late game, 10-2.

No. 22 Western Oregon's season came to an end at 37-15 after going 0-2 during regional play.

Bauman was the catalyst for the UCSD offense, going 3-for-5 with a run scored, a homer and two RBI. The senior outfielder drove in a run with a single to right in the bottom of the fourth and then added a solo home run in the last of the seventh for the final margin.

Leadoff man Danny Susdorf finished 2-for-4 with a RBI, while Evan Kehoe and Kellen Lee also drove in runs for the Tritons, who stranded a total of nine runners in Friday's loss.

"We came out ready to go and got all of the bad baseball out of the way," UCSD head coach Dan O'Brien said. "I'm glad we were able to zero in and get back on track. We want to carry this effort into the rest of the weekend, stay focused and keep it going."

Knudson (9-3) was brilliant on the mound for the Tritons, limiting the Wolves to just three runs on six hits in a complete nine innings of work. The senior right-hander held WOU without a hit over the final four innings and allowed just one base runner over that span. He finished with five strikeouts and walked just one. It was Knudson's third complete game this season and the seventh of his career.

"I just wanted to get out there and give us a chance to play tomorrow," Knudson said. "I made sure to come out ready to go. I was being aggressive and really pounding the zone and trying to stay ahead in counts. I mainly used my fastball, but also mixed in my curveball, which was working for me."

Miles Kizer went 2-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs for the Wolves, who scored a run in the first inning and added two more in the third. Grant Glover also had two hits for WOU, which dropped to 1-4 against UCSD on the season.

Michael Ward (7-5) took the loss for the Wolves, surrendering five runs on eight hits before he was lifted with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. Cam Nobles pitched admirably in his first relief appearance of the season, keeping the Tritons in check until Bauman's homer in the seventh. He allowed just two hits in four and two thirds innings of work.

Trailing 1-0 entering the bottom of the second, UCSD scored a pair of two out runs as Garrett Tuck ripped a RBI double to right center and then scored on Susdorf's single down the left field line.

The Wolves answered with two runs in the third, but the Tritons scored two more of their own in the bottom half to take the lead for good, 4-3. Kehoe brought in Kyle Saul with a RBI single through the left side and Blake Tagmyer scored on a RBI groundout by Lee.

Bauman accounted for the final two runs to put the finishing touches on the victory.

Saturday afternoon's elimination tilt will be the eighth meeting of the season between UC San Diego and California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) rival Cal Poly Pomona. The Tritons hold a 5-2 advantage in the season series, with two of those wins coming at the CCAA Tournament. The winner of the game will have to defeat Sonoma State, which is 2-0, twice to win the West Region title. The first championship game will be under the lights Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at Triton Ballpark. If necessary, a second championship contest will be played Sunday at noon.



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