UC Irvine was on the road to redemption on Tuesday night as they looked to avenge its embarrassing 11-3 loss at home to Loyola Marymount University on March 3.
Vengeance was what they achieved as they barraged the Lions with 19 runs.
Corey Olson and Eric Deragisch each recorded season-high four RBIs, while Jeff Cusick and Ben Orloff recorded four hits each. Ronnie Schaffer contributed three hits, and fellow freshman Jordan Fox added three RBIs with a triple.
Noel Avison improved his record to 2-0 as he got the starting nod. He pitched four innings while striking out one and allowing three runs. Kyle Necke pitched 1.2 innings of relief and Matt Summers pitched a scoreless ninth.
UCI 2 CSUF 1
Before the game, UC Irvine Head Coach Mike Gillespie said that if UCI was going to have any chance of beating Big West rivals and first-ranked California State University Fullerton on Friday night, they were going to need at least seven innings of work from Daniel Bibona. He gave them eight shut-out innings to lead the eighth-ranked Anteaters to a win 2-1 over the Titans at Goodwin field.
Bibona was dominant from the get-go. He did not allow a hit over the first four innings, only allowed four hits and struck out five the rest of the way. He kept a potent Titan offense on its heels and toes throughout the contest, masterfully mixing his fastball and off-speed pitches. He frequently got ahead of the hitters on the count, and gave the Titans’ head coach, and former UCI head coach, Dave Serrano a headache. Serrano had recruited Bibona to UCI during his stay.
All-American closer Eric Pettis closed it out for the Anteaters in a stressful ninth inning as he allowed one unearned run on two hits for his eighth save of the season.
Both teams are known for small-ball expertise, but it was the long ball that was the difference in this contest. Catcher Francis Larson brought UCI on the board in the fourth inning by pounding a 1-0 fastball by Daniel Renken over the left-field fence for his fourth home run of the season.
After hitting a 400-foot foul ball to right field, Casey Stevenson belted a double off the right-field fence. Eric Deragisch continued his 10-game hitting streak by delivering a clutch single through the infield to score Stevenson and give the Anteaters a 2-0 lead.
Fullerton threatened in the fifth inning as a single and a double got Titan runners on second and third. Bibona struck out the next batter, Justin Garneau, and benefited from a stellar double play turned by Jeff Cusick and DJ Crumlich to end the inning. Cusick made an impressive diving catch in foul territory off a bunt, and then got up and threw the runner out at third, who was making his way to home plate.
Larson was the only player to gather multiple hits. He finished the night with two hits and an RBI.
UCI 6 CSUF 1
Saturday night was more of the same, as Christian Bergman and Brock Bardeen combined to allow one run from the Titans. The long ball came through again for the Anteaters as the cold bat of Jeff Cusick finally caught heat. Cusick stroked his first home run of the season, a three-run shot, to put the ‘Eaters up early 3-0.
The Titans could only muster up one run, as UCI struck again in the top of the eighth. Freshman sensation Ronnie Shaeffer delivered a two-out single to drive in Ben Orloff. UCI struck again in the ninth as DJ Crumlich plated Orloff off a fielder’s choice, and Eric Deragisch hit a sacrifice play to bring in Dillon Bell.
Bergman pitched 5.2 innings and yielded one run on seven hits. He struck out five in the contest, before Bardeen came and earned his first career collegiate save. In 3.1 innings of work, Bardeen struck out three and only allowed two hits.
CSUF 5 UCI 4
The final game of the week was a tough one.
With Irvine pulling two upset wins on Friday and Saturday, it was unable to pull out the sweep as it lost, 5-4, in ten innings at CSUF on Sunday.
Irvine led 4-1 early in the game, but that cushion was lost in the bottom of the eighth as CSUF tied it at four on a single to left.
The score stayed tied until the tenth when Irvine loaded the bases for CSUF who capitalized with a game ending single to left. CSUF narrowly missed the sweep, winnng 5-4.
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