The UC Irvine Baseball team came into Saturday’s game with no stolen bases in their previous game against the UC Davis Aggies.
Going against a left-handed pitcher was not going to help their cause, as the Anteaters would be picked off a total of four times on May 14 in this nonconference game at Anteater Ballpark.
‘It wasn’t that we were getting picked off, it was that we were being aggressive [by] trying to steal, and if they pick, we’re going to be out nine times out of 10 because we’re going first movement off of a left-handed pitcher. It’s a guessing game,’ said UCI Coach Dave Serrano.
Despite having so many runners thrown out, the aggressive running displayed by freshman center fielder Ollie Linton and the rest of the Anteaters would prevail in their 7-0 rout against UC Davis Aggies to win the series and improve its overall record to 27-21 while the Aggies fell, 23-24.
Coming off of Friday’s game where he went 0-for-4, Linton led the game off with a base-hit bunt before stealing second.
Junior first basemen Jamie Martinez would score Linton on a two-out double, before coming in to score off of junior designated hitter Matt Anderson’s single, giving the Anteaters a 2-0 edge over the Aggies.
‘Yesterday was not [that] good of a game. Today I just forgot about yesterday and started new,’ Linton said after scoring twice and going 4-for-4 with two RBIs.
Small ball played a large role for the Anteaters in what came to be a big fifth inning.
A leadoff walk to UCI’s junior third baseman Tim Wojcik was followed by a sacrifice bunt by sophomore shortstop Chad Lundahl to advance Wojcik to second.
UCI’s sophomore second baseman Cody Cipriano followed with a bunt single moving Wojcik to third. Linton would score Wojcik on his second bunt single of the game.
An RBI single by Miramontes would score Cipriano and put Linton on second.
With men now on first and second with one out, Linton stole third with ease.
Miramontes got a bad jump on sophomore catcher Mark Wagner’s strikeout and was caught between first and second allowing Linton to sneak home on the play before the inning ended.
‘We can’t survive off of trying to hit balls over the fence,’ Serrano said. ‘We don’t have a lot of power numbers. So we’re going to have to do what this offense is capable of doing and beat some infielders with some drags and pushes to create stuff offensively. When we do execute and commit to it, we’ve been fairly successful.’
The Aggies would threaten again in the top of the seventh after a walk by Schroer.
With a 5-0 lead staked to Schroer, senior pitcher Jimmy Alstot came in for protection.
Alstot struck out one before allowing a single to put men on first and second.
With two outs, the Aggies’ Kyle Irving hit the pitch to Martinez at first.
Alstot, slow to cover first base, just beat out Irving on a controversial call to end the inning and avoid a bases-loaded situation.
UCD Head Coach Rex Peters came out to argue the call.
In the process Peters picked up first base before getting thrown out by first base umpire Bradley Hungerford.
As Peters left the field, he threw the base over the right field fence in frustration. It was the third stolen base of the game for the Aggies.
He would watch the rest of the game from the third story of the adjacent parking structure.
Backed by strong defense, including a brilliant double play in the sixth inning started by Cipriano diving to rob UCD’s Daniel Descalso of a hit and possibly an RBI, UCI’s Steve Schroer pitched a gem, striking seven out while allowing only six hits and two walks scattered across six-and-one-third innings.
‘You just try to get ahead and once you’re ahead you try to make a good pitch,’ Schroer said. ‘Fortunately today, they were swinging through some balls and swinging through some good change-ups. Getting ahead and their aggressiveness on change-ups and off-speed pitches allowed me to strike out those batters.’
He added, ‘On top of seven strikeouts, every ball put in play was pretty much an out. You can’t ask for anything more than that as a pitcher.’