On Tuesday, the UC Irvine Baseball team beat the Loyola Marymount Lions 6-4 in a game involving 11 pitchers, 16 hits and 4 errors.
‘Tuesday games are mentality games,’ said UCI Head Coach Dave Serrano.
The Anteaters (3-2) kept their heads on straight and outplayed the Lions (2-3) throughout the game.
The first inning encapsulated the rest of the game as it was a bit wild and wrought with misunderstandings. UCI junior pitcher Gary Nakashima started the game with a few control issues, walking the first batter and allowing a hit to center field. He would regain his command, getting more control as the game went along.
During the third at-bat of the inning, UCI sophomore catcher Aaron Lowenstein allowed a passed ball. The runners moved over. With men on second and third and no outs, Nakashima struck out the batter. Still in trouble, he got the next batter to fly out. At first, the flyout appeared to be a perfect sacrifice fly as the runner scored from third and the man on second moved over, until the tag-up at second was challenged. It turned out the man had left the bag early and the run was overruled as Nakashima made it out of the inning with no runs allowed.
The odd series of events seemed to continue for the Anteaters when they came to bat. Sophomore third baseman Taylor Holiday made it to first when the second baseman muffed the play. Later, Holiday was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt laid down the third baseline by freshman second baseman Ben Orloff. Two batters later, junior shortstop Cody Cipriano was hit by a pitch, then redshirt sophomore left fielder Brock Bardeen was walked. With two outs and the bases loaded, a wild pitch allowed Holiday to score easily. The Anteaters failed to bring in the other two runners as the inning soon ended.
‘It was your typical midweek game,’ Serrano said.
The Anteaters showed a great focus, letting LMU make the mistakes.
The second and third innings were fairly uneventful for Nakashima as he gave up no runs and got three strike-outs. In the third, however, he hit two batters in a row, showing a loss of control.
Serrano commended his effort, saying, ‘Nakashima set the tone early by throwing strikes.’
Nakashima was removed and replaced by senior relief pitcher Travis Rhymes at the start of the fourth inning.
In the second inning, UCI saw Holiday get an RBI as, with the bases loaded, his walk forced junior shortstop Chad Lundahl home. In the third, Lowenstein put down a perfect squeeze bunt that allowed Bardeen to score.
In the fourth, after a hit batter, a single and a throwing error, LMU scored on a single to shallow left field. In the Anteaters’ half of the inning, Cipriano scored after hitting a single and then stealing both second and third base. The catcher tried to catch him stealing third, but the ensuing overthrow allowed Cipriano to make it home easily.
The top of the fifth saw LMU close the gap as sophomore redshirt relief pitcher Kevin Mayer gave up two runs off three hits. UCI failed to score in their half of the inning and sophomore relief pitcher Chris Lopez relieved Mayer at the start of the sixth. Lopez gave up one run off a hit, two wild pitches, a misread on a slow groundball and a walk. He struck out the last batter to end the inning.
UCI would pull ahead again in their half of the sixth when Bardeen hit a two RBI, stand up triple into the right field corner. On the play, Holiday and Cipriano would both score for the second time.
Bardeen said of the hit, ‘I’ve been working really hard for it.’
Bardeen sat on the bench all of last year as a redshirt and his hard work finally paid off with a big hit. He went 1-2 with three walks and two RBIs on the night.
Neither team scored the rest of the game, though UCI did manage to get runners into scoring position before a pickle ensued after a failed hit and run.
The Anteaters headed to Hawaii for the weekend where junior Justin Cassel, freshman Scott Gorgen and senior Glen Swanson were slated as the starting pitchers.
‘We’re going over to win three ball games,’ Serrano said. ‘We’re going over for business.’
His players seemed to reiterate the same feelings, though Holiday did remember, ‘It’s the Pro Bowl weekend. Maybe we’ll see some of the [NFL] guys.’
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