Good teams just know how to win. A number-one ranking in the nation would be a sign of a good team. UC Irvine baseball achieved just that as it scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to gather a 6-5 win against the University of Southern California in midweek action at Anteater Ballpark.
Jeff Cusick provided the heroics for the Anteaters as his two-run single up the middle was the walk-off hit that stunned USC, and shut their mouths.
UCI trailed the entire game and was held to just five hits over eight innings. They even loaded the bases in the seventh inning and had runners in scoring position in the eighth, but came up empty both times.
The ninth was a different story. Casey Stevenson led off the inning with a double. Ronnie Shaeffer then induced a walk to get on first. In a pinch-hit appearance, Dillon Bell singled in Stevenson. Ryan Fisher then loaded the bases with a single for Jordan Leyland, who singled off the second pitch to score Shaeffer. Ben Orloff then orchestrated a squeeze play to get Bell in from third and the lead cut to one.
Eric Deragisch was intentionally walked, and Cusick made the Trojans pay with his game-winning hit.
Deragisch was two for three with a run, and Shaeffer added two hits of his own. Eric Pettis earned the win by pitching a shut-out ninth inning. He improved to 4-1.
UCI 7 CSUN 1
Daniel Bibona did not have his best stuff Friday night against California State University Northridge, but his mediocre stuff is still better than most. It’s tough to even call an outing in which he held CSUN to four hits over eight innings mediocre. However, behind some good defense and timely strikeouts, Bibona earned the victory 8-1.
UC Irvine struck against the lowly Matadors early in the third inning, scoring off a sacrifice fly by Larson and an error.
UCI jumped to a 5-0 lead in the fourth on a double down the right field line to score Tommy Reyes and Fisher. Eric Deragisch drew a walk and eventually made his way to third base, stealing home base on a 1-2 pitch curveball in the dirt.
Cusick doubled in a run in the sixth inning, and Larson plated him with a single.
Larson and Bell lead UCI with two RBIs each, and Deragisch finished with three runs scored. Fisher launched two doubles on the night. UCI had a season-high five double in the night fixture.
UCI 12 CSUN 7
After recording a season-high five doubles on Friday night, the Anteaters added to their slugging percentages with a single game record: four triples in 12-7 win over the Matadors on Saturday. The ‘Eaters have yet to drop a weekend series this season, and have won 14 of their last 16 contests.
Larson led the team by going three for four, and was a home run shy for hitting for the cycle. He scored four runs on the night. Orloff launched his first career triple and recorded his personal-best three RBIs. Stevenson drove in two runs, as did Bell who also had two runs to go along with it.
Starter Christian Bergman matched ace Bibona in records with the win, 8-1. He pitched 6.2 innings, striking out six and allowing three earned runs.
UCI tore the game open in the second inning when they sent nine players to the plate, and ran CSUN starter Justen Gorski out of the game with 1.1 innings pitched. UCI took a 5-0 lead courtesy of two doubles and two triples.
Bell, Corey Olsen and Orloff continued the attack by driving in four more runs to increase the lead to nine in just the third inning.
Dufour pitched an inning of scoreless relief to seal the 12-7 win.
UCI 5 CSUN 2
On Tuesday, it was the singles; on Friday, it was the doubles; on Saturday, it was the triples. Well on Sunday, it was only appropriate that the long ball came through. Jeff Cusick hit a two-run shot in the first inning, and Francis Larson added a solo shot in the bottom of the eight en route to a 5-2 victory for the Antteaters. UCI improves to 34-11 and 14-1 in the Big West. CSUN dropped to 18-29 and 4-13 in conference.
Ben Orloff was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Eric Deragisch would then ground out to third base and advance Orloff to second. Cusick then stepped to the plate and sent his third home run of the season over left-center. Casey Stevensen would double after Larson struck out, and Ronnie Shaeffer would plate Stevensen with a single to put UCI up early 3-0.
Crosby Slaught picked up the win for the Anteaters after he pitched five innings with four strike outs and one earned run.
Ryan Fisher singled
0 in Shaeffer in the sixth inning to increase the lead to three at 4-1.
Larson would cap the scoring for the Anteaters in the eight by jumping on a 1-1 fastball and sending the ball over the left field fence for his team, with his ninth home run of the season.
Eric Pettis would gather his 16th save of the season by pitching the ninth inning.
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