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  • Writer's pictureWyatt Bose

Tritons concede 18 runs in loss to San Diego State

UC San Diego Baseball (21–9, 8–4 Big West) hosted the San Diego State Aztecs (9–22, 4–11 Mountain West) on Wednesday night at Triton Ballpark, the second game of the 2024 Cross Town Rivalry Series. On Tuesday, the Tritons lost game one to the University of San Diego Toreros, 7–1. Wednesday was an opportunity to right the ship, but seemingly everything went wrong.


Sophomore right-hander Donovan Chriss took the mound for the Tritons. Chriss allowed a lead-off single to open the first frame, followed by an infield single to third base. The Toreros then dialed up a sacrifice bunt, which moved the runners to second and third with just one out. Chriss walked the cleanup hitter to load the bases. SDSU’s fifth hitter of the inning eyed an elevated breaking ball and took an aggressive swing at the pitch, launching it to deep left-center field. Thankfully, the ball was caught at the warning track, but a run would score on the sacrifice fly. 


Chriss worked out of the inning, forcing the ensuing hitter to pop out. Despite a precarious start to the first inning — an inning in which Chriss loaded the bases with just one out — the sophomore left the mound with just one run on the board.


In the second inning, the Tritons gave Chriss some run support. With runners on first and second, redshirt junior shortstop Cooper Thacker roped a double down the left field line to put the Tritons ahead 2–1. Junior designated hitter Andy Ambriz and freshman third baseman Kerim Orucevic both scored on the play. Thacker then stole third base and deployed an acrobatic slide to evade the tag, putting the Tritons within 90 feet of a two-run lead. Sophomore second baseman Ryson Ujimori stepped to the plate and grounded a ball to second base, scoring Thacker to extend the Triton’s lead to 3–1.


The Tritons went to the bullpen to start the third inning, and that would be the beginning of the end. Freshman southpaw Nathan Huy got the ball and was bombarded by an Aztec barrage. The first hitter to step to the plate launched a home run off of the batter’s eye in center field, closing in on the Tritons’ now one-run lead. Huy then produced a groundout but proceeded to walk a batter and give up two singles to load the bases with one out. The Aztecs hit a momentum-shifting double into center field, scoring two runners to take the lead, 4–3. SDSU would not score again that inning, but it was just the start of a 22-hit night for the Aztecs.


In the fourth, the first two Aztecs singled, and the third doubled to load the bases for the third time in four innings. With no outs and the bases loaded, Tino Bethancourt launched a grand slam over the left field wall on a 1-2 count. Huy shook off his catcher three times and hung a breaking ball that he would never see again, as the Aztecs went ahead, 8–3.


Meanwhile, after an electric second inning, the Tritons’ bats went dormant.


In the fifth inning, the Aztecs managed to get runners on second and third base with one out. They scored the lead runner on an infield single and the other on a single up the middle to extend their lead to 10–3. The Aztecs continued to pass the baton, scoring another run on a blooper to left field and another courtesy of a throwing error. To cap off a five-run fifth inning, the Aztecs scored their thirteenth run of the night on what would have been an inning-ending groundout to second base. The error marked the Tritons’ second of the inning, adding insult to injury to make it a ten-run deficit.


In the bottom of the fifth, junior center fielder Nick Costello doubled to lead off the inning. Senior catcher Emiliano Gonzalez singled to the shortstop, and redshirt junior left fielder Doyle Kane walked. The Tritons loaded the bases with one out, and after a strikeout, senior right fielder Brock Kleszcz notched a two-out single to the shortstop, scoring Costello. The Tritons cut the lead to 13–4 but would strand the bases loaded.


In the sixth, the Tritons put up a crooked number, scoring 4 runs to cut the lead to 13–8. Thacker walked, and Ujimori was hit by a pitch to open the frame. Costello walked as well to load the bases, and Gonzalez grounded out to score Thacker. After senior catcher Bradlee Preap walked to load the bases, Kane then walked as well to score Ujimori. Redshirt sophomore Patrick Hackworth then pinch-hit for Ambriz. Hackworth walked as well, scoring Costello to mark the fifth walk of the inning, in addition to the hit-by-pitch. Kleszcz then reached on a fielder’s choice to score Preap for the Tritons’ fourth run of the inning and eighth of the game.


Unfortunately, the Aztecs would score 5 runs in the last two innings. The Tritons recorded donuts in innings seven through nine and lost the game 18–8. UCSD plays next on Friday, April 19 on the road against Cal State Bakersfield. The Tritons then return home on Friday, April 26 to host the University of Hawai’i for Muir College Night.

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