Rohnert Park, California - The No. 12 University of California San Diego baseball team used two long balls to score seven runs over the final two frames and defeated Sonoma State University, 7-4, in the opener of a four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) series Friday afternoon at Seawolf Diamond.
With a second straight victory, both away from home, UC San Diego improved to 12-6 overall and 8-5 in the CCAA. Sonoma State fell to 8-7 overall and 4-5 in league play.
UCSD trailed 1-0 for much of the contest after a leadoff home run by Bryce Nagata in the hosts' first turn at-bat.
Having had trouble with Michael Warning throughout his outing, the Tritons went to work on the Sonoma State bullpen, scoring three in the eighth on an RBI double by Tyler Durna and a two-run blast from fellow junior Zander Clarke.
The Tritons then filled the bases, all with two outs, in the ninth, and got a league-best eighth home run and second grand slam already on the season, from redshirt junior third baseman Alex Eliopulos (La Jolla/La Jolla HS), out to right field. He regained the league lead in RBI as well as a result, with 28.
A three-run shot by the Seawolves in the home ninth made things slightly interesting, but Cameron Kurz (Encinitas/La Costa Canyon HS) entered to shut that rally threat down with three successive outs for his fifth save and third in the last four games.
Junior left-hander Preston Mott, the reigning CCAA and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) West Region Pitcher of the Week, went 6.0 innings and allowed a single run on six hits and one walk. He struck out seven. Mott was moved up to the series-opening starting role for the first time this season, after spending much of his sophomore campaign in that capacity.
Redshirt freshman right-hander Antonio Barrios (1-1) picked up the win in relief.
The teams will continue their series with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 10, set for an 11 a.m. start at Seawolf Diamond.