UCSD’s Adrian Orozco wasn’t perfect Friday night against Azusa Pacific, but he was nearly the next best thing.
Orozco, a senior from Otay Ranch High, took a no-hitter into the ninth inning of the NCAA Division II West Regionals game. It was spoiled on a one-out single through the left side of the infield by Azusa’s Pablo O’Connor. Orozco retired the next two hitters on a line out and a strikeout to complete a one-hitter in UCSD’s 4-0 victory over host Azusa Pacific.
“It was pretty special,” UCSD head coach Eric Newman said. “I don’t know if I’ve seen a better performance by a guy in this setting.”
The victory moved UCSD (38-17) two wins away from advancing to the Division II national championship series. The Tritons play Saturday night at 7, meeting the winner of the Azusa Pacific-Cal Poly Pomona elimination game.
Orozco (9-0) was trying to become the first Tritons pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Trevor Decker tossed a seven-inning no-no in 2009. Instead, he settled for the one-hitter, striking out 11 with two walks while throwing 117 pitches.
Making the feat even more impressive is that Azusa Pacific ranked among the nation’s top teams in offense this season. The most impressive Cougars stat: 73 home runs in 52 games this season.
“It was crazy,” Orozco said. “My job was to keep us in the game. If you take a step back and look at it, it’s only a four-run game in a small yard with the heart of the lineup (coming up). So just slowing myself down and realizing that winning the game is most important is what really kept my head on straight the whole night.”
UCSD scored two unearned runs in the third inning. It was more than enough for Orozco, although his Tritons teammates added single runs in the fifth and sixth.
With the 4-0 lead, the focus shifted to Orozco, who was perfect through six innings. That ended with the first pitch of the seventh when he hit…