UCR’s baseball team won both of their games against UC San Diego on Saturday, May 1. The Highlanders bounced back from a tough Game 1 loss on Friday, April 30, to lead the four-game weekend series, 2-1. Strong offensive production and consistent pitching led to the final scores of the two games 13-3 and 11-6 for UCR.
Unlike the previous game, UCSD failed to score with their first time at bat in the opening inning. Instead, UCR scored in the bottom of the first inning from a single hit to right field by redshirt junior Dylan Orick that brought redshirt senior Tyler Bohall to home. UCR didn’t hold on to its early lead for long as UCSD responded in the top of the second inning with two runs to take the lead, 1-2. It remained close between the two teams through the fourth inning as neither led by more than one point.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Highlanders mounted an incredible 8-run campaign to the surprise of the previously leading Tritons. UCR’s redshirt junior Cole Pofek went to bat first and hit his first homerun ball of the season right-center of the field over the fence to get the momentum started. Moments later, Bohall earned a triple-base hit and recorded an RBI to bring home redshirt junior Ethan Payne to give UCR the lead again, 4-3. Despite UCSD’s two pitching changes, the Highlanders continued to play aggressively to eventually conclude the fifth inning up 10-3.
In the top of the sixth inning, UCSD struggled at bat and quickly returned to the dugout, scoreless. UCR went back to the plate and scored two more runs to extend their lead to 12-3. UCSD changed pitchers an additional two times, but it wasn’t enough to stop redshirt junior Nathan Webb from hitting an early homerun, which allowed Orick to score again for the Highlanders.
At the conclusion of the seventh inning, the Highlanders would eventually lead 13-3, resulting in the NCAA mercy rule to take effect because of the ten-point deficit, therefore ending the game. The majority of the starting Highlanders reached at least one base in the contest. Redshirt sophomore pitcher Tyler Frazier had a solid performance, four strikeouts, zero walks and only one hit in his 6.0 I.P.
In the second game of the Saturday doubleheader against UCSD, the Highlanders again put on another strong performance to win, 11-6. The momentum continued from the previous blowout game and put UCR on a two-game winning streak for the four-game series.
Relieving redshirt sophomore Tyler Frazier, redshirt sophomore pitcher Taylor Juline took over the mound for the Highlanders. Beginning similarly to Game 2, UCSD failed to score with their opportunity at the plate in the top half of the first inning. UCR wasted little time and scored two runs late in the bottom half of the first inning to take an early lead. A single-hit up center-field from Webb sent Orick and redshirt sophomore Ely Stuart to home base. Shortly afterwards in the top half of the third inning, Juline pitched a solid 1-2-3 inning, effectively preventing any UCSD players from reaching a base. The Highlanders kept their foot on the gas offensively and went up to 5-0 to conclude the third inning.
Late in the top of the fourth inning, UCSD’s redshirt junior Tate Soderstrom scored a homerun and sent Senior Everett Lau home, reducing the Triton deficit to 2-5. UCR responded with two runs combined in the fourth and fifth innings, while also holding UCSD to no score. The Highlanders got a scare in the top of the sixth inning as the Tritons attempted to mount their own comeback campaign. The Tritons scored three home runs to edge closer, 5-7, which prompted a visit to the mound by UCR to strategize. The Highlanders managed to end UCSD’s hot-streak and returned on offense to score another 3 runs to extend their lead to 10-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning.
For the remainder of the ball game, both teams kept each other in check as neither scored more than one point in the final three innings. UCR substituted player field positions and changed pitchers once in the top of the seventh inning. UCSD also switched out another pitcher in the bottom of the seventh inning to try to get back into the game. However, once again, it wasn’t enough to fully cool the Highlanders. The ninth and final inning concluded on a double-play by the Highlanders to send the Tritons back to the dugout.
Juline finished the game with five strikeouts and zero walks in 6.0 I.P. Webb led the team with six RBI’s and one HR. Orick led in runs and 2B hits.
The Highlanders will return to the Riverside Sports Complex again on Sunday, May 2 for the four-game series finale against UC San Diego. They’ll take on California State University Long Beach for another four-game series next week at home from Friday, May 7, at 6 p.m to Sunday, May 9, at 1:00 p.m.