CHICO, Calif. — Tim Shibuya struck out nine and Danny Susdorf had four hits as seventh-ranked UC-San Diego took a 9-3 victory against No. 20 Chico State Friday night at Nettleton Stadium.
It was the opening game of a critical four-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) series between the Tritons and Wildcats. UCSD (31-12, 22-11 CCAA), which has won 10 consecutive games, is now tied with Chico State (27-11, 21-10 CCAA) for first place in the league standings.
The Tritons scored first, plating a single run in the top of the first. With two outs, first baseman Blake Tagmyer doubled to left center, scoring left fielder Aaron Bauman from first. It was Tagmyer’s return to the lineup as he had missed the previous two games due to injury.
Shibuya (9-3) started strong, getting the Wildcats to go down in order in the first with a ground ball and a pair of strikeouts.
“Tim, once again, set the tone for the night on the mound,” said UCSD head coach Dan O’Brien. “You just don’t get tired of seeing that kid compete. He’s something special.”
Both teams had base runners in the second and third, but none came all the way around. With two outs in the fourth, UCSD had back-to-back singles by shortstop Garrett Tuck and center fielder Susdorf, but both were left stranded.
The Tritons struck for a pair of runs in the top of the fifth to take a 3-0 lead. With one out, Tagmyer singled and took second after an infield error. The Wildcats then gave him third as well on a wild pitch and right fielder Kyle Saul walked to give UCSD runners at the corners. During a strikeout, Saul advanced to second on another wild pitch by starter Kevin Brahney, setting the table for catcher Kellen Lee, who came through with a two-run single.
Chico State scored two runs of its own in the bottom half of the fifth.
First baseman Shane Croker singled off Shibuya. Following a pop-up, catcher Ben Manlove took Shibuya deep to left, just the second home run the senior had surrendered this season, for CSUC’s third hit of the night. The Wildcats had another base runner, but Shibuya maintained his composure to record a called strikeout and a ground ball out to finish the inning.
The Tritons scored two more runs to take a 5-2 lead in the sixth. With Stephen Thompson on for Brahney, Tuck welcomed him with a single and then managed to get all the way around to third on consecutive wild pitches.
A Susdorf double that was basically a pop-up which got lost in the twilight sky, plated Tuck, prompting CSUC to replace Thompson with Sheldon Lechuga, who walked Bauman. Designated hitter Nick La Face singled to left to score Susdorf before Tagmyer grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
UCSD put another run up in the seventh to take a 6-2 lead. Third baseman Evan Kehoe led off with a single, Lee walked and infielder Matt Hubbard loaded the bases with a single, UCSD’s 12th hit of the game. Tuck grounded into a 6-4-3 twin killing with Kehoe scoring on the play.
Shibuya ripped through the bottom half of another inning, retiring the side 1-2-3 in the seventh on two ground balls and a strikeout.
The Tritons cushioned their lead as Bauman led off the eighth with a single. With one out, Tagmyer was hit by Lechuga. A Saul fly-out advanced both runners and Kehoe picked them both up with a double down the left field line. Scott Newberry entered as Chico’s fourth pitcher and got Lee to ground out to end the half inning, but not before the Tritons took an 8-2 lead.
Shibuya ran into trouble in the eighth. He struck out the leadoff batter, the ninth of his outing, but gave up an RBI double to second baseman Jackson Evans that scored center fielder Cody Foster, who had reached on a fielder’s choice. Justin Burns came on to relieve Shibuya and retired the first batter he saw.
Shibuya ran a line of three runs on five hits through 7.2 innings, striking out nine and walking just one.
Susdorf booked his fourth hit and second RBI of the night in the top of the ninth when his single scored Hubbard to give UCSD a 9-3 lead.
Daniel Simmons quickly finished the game on the mound, going 1-2-3 with two strikeouts and a ground ball out. It was Simmons’ fourth relief appearance. The usual starter missed nearly a month due to injury.
At the plate, Susdorf finished 4 for 6, while Hubbard had three hits.
Brahney went five innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked three Tritons, dropping to 2-4 with the loss.
UCSD totaled 16 hits in the game while Chico had five. Over its last four games, the Tritons have scored 54 runs while giving up just seven to opponents.
“Our offense consistently competed at the plate all night,” said O’Brien. “We did a good job of making their guys work hard for outs.”
The Tritons and Wildcats had split their previous 12 meetings. The span was a complete roller coaster ride as the teams alternated winning three straight games all the way through. Overall, Chico State holds the edge in the series, 25-22.