The San Diego State Aztecs (4-14) took a win from UC Irvine (9-7) at Anteater Ballpark on March 8.
Even though UCI started on top, it fell short with a final score of 8-6. UCI left 12 base runners stranded while the bullpen allowed more runs than the team could make up, even though San Diego did not score after the fifth inning.
The Anteaters started the game with a 1-0 lead, scored by junior outfielder Erik Johnson on a sacrifice fly by junior designated hitter/catcher Mark Wagner.
UCI’s starting pitcher, sophomore Justin Cassel, held the Aztecs scoreless for two innings.
After UCI made a pitching change in the top of the third inning by bringing in senior Michael Koehler, SDSU answered with a three-run homerun by Aztec outfielder Garrick Evans.
SDSU continued to add to its score with base hits by first baseman Tim O’Brien, catcher Jordan Swayden and outfielder Quintin Berry in the fourth, making the score 6-2.
With runners at second and third, UCI allowed the Aztecs two more runs on a missed throw to home, upping SDSU’s score to 8.
After giving up too many runs, UCI senior pitcher Steve Schroer was brought in at the top of the fifth inning.
Schroer held the Aztecs scoreless for a little more than three innings, with five strikeouts and allowing only one hit.
UCI loaded the bases in the sixth inning, with sophomore second baseman Cody Cipriano, senior right fielder David Kennedy, and senior left fielder/pitcher Gregg Wallis drawing walks from SDSU’s starting pitcher, James Scott.
A sacrifice fly by senior shortstop Brett Dalton drove in a run and allowed Kennedy to steal home.
The Anteaters made an effort to come back with two runs scored, lowering the deficit to three going into the ninth inning.
UCI’s closing pitcher, sophomore Blair Erickson, did not give up any hits with three consecutive strikeouts.
But even though Erickson held their opponents, the Anteaters were only able to come up with one run in the bottom of the ninth.
With two leadoff walks and a bunt, the Anteaters loaded the bases; however, they just could not get the runs they needed. The game ended in SDSU’s favor, 8-6.
Both teams made quite a few pitching changes throughout the game.
Even though Cassel pitched a great two innings, he did not stay in the game because UCI wanted to save his arm for the weekend where UCI will head to the Public Storage/USC Baseball Classic.
UCI Head Coach Dave Serrano was hoping the bullpen could carry the rest of the game, but that was not the case.
Koehler gave up four runs, striking out two during his time on the mound.
Only Erickson and Schroer pitched scoreless innings after the bullpen had already given up eight runs.
‘I’m very, very disappointed,’ Serrano said. ‘Somehow in the next few weeks, the coaching staff needs to help this team find some toughness. We need to make the good pitch instead of making the pitch.
We need to make the good play instead of making the play. Something needs to be done to keep us from fearing failure.’
This disappointment was also reflected in the players after the game.
‘There was a lack of focus,’ Johnson said about his team’s performance.
When asked about SDSU’s performance, Johnson said, ‘They came out to the yard and played the kind of ball we’re accustomed to. They did all the little things we didn’t do.’
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