Saturday night, in front of more than 1,100 people, the UC Irvine Baseball team defeated the No. 25 California Golden Bears by a score of 10-4. Their win more than made up for their season-opening 6-2 loss the night before. While Friday’s game was lost mostly because of five runs given up in the first inning, the win on Saturday was an even effort throughout.
UCI Head Coach Dave Serrano noted, ‘We played more in our character tonight. [California] didn’t play as well as they did last night. They pitched tremendously well and the first inning just got away from us. It was hard for us to recover off the quality pitcher that [Brandon] Morrow was.’
Morrow (1-0), a right-hander for Cal, was clocked throwing in the upper 90s all of Friday’s game as well as crossing the 100 mark on a couple of pitches. The starting pitcher for the Anteaters, junior Justin Cassel (0-1), relaxed after the five-run, four-hit first inning and gave four solid innings with three strike outs. In the eighth, sophomore utility Taylor Holiday knocked in senior catcher Jeff Wehrun and sophomore infielder Tyler Vaughn for UCI’s only two RBIs of the game.
The big story of the weekend, however, was Saturday’s starting pitcher, freshman Scott Gorgen (1-0). Gorgen pitched amazingly, throwing nearly six full innings with no earned runs, three strike outs and only two hits in his debut performance.
‘He’s been pitching like that against our team all fall,’ Serrano said. ‘The only thing that surprised me is that it was under difficult situations. His twin brother’s on that team, he’s friends with a lot of those players, he has many family members in town. I think he has a chance to have a very special career here.’
‘I felt like what I had to do I got done,’ Gorgen said. ‘Throw strikes and let my defense do what they do. I give full credit to my team behind me. They got the runs and made some great plays tonight.’
And score runs they did. Their hitting started in the first inning when, after getting on base and then to second on a throwing error, freshman second baseman Ben Orloff scored off a single to center by junior first baseman Zach Robinson. Orloff would score again in the third inning after getting hit by a pitch and stealing second, this time being knocked in by the freshman designated hitter Brock Barden’s single to left.
In the fourth, senior catcher Jeff Werhun laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that allowed sophomore outfielder Bryan Peterson to score and moved junior infielder Chad Lundahl into scoring position. After two walks to load the bases, Robinson got two more RBIs on a ball crushed to the right field fence.
‘It felt great,’ Robinson said. ‘I got a pitch I could hit in a good situation.’
Orloff would score for the third time in the game later in the inning when Barden hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field.
In the fifth inning, Scott Gorgen’s brother Matt came into the game as a reliever for Cal. The move seemed to throw Scott’s pitching off a bit and, as he said, ‘definitely mixed emotions. As soon as he got in there it got a bit chaotic.’ He was replaced in the sixth by junior right-handed pitcher Dylan Axelrod.
In the bottom of the seventh, Matt seemed to finally break under the pressure that Scott played so well under, giving up four runs on three hits and two walks.
An overthrown pickoff attempt in the seventh inning by California’s catcher allowed UCI senior outfielder Gary Durdrey to get to second and foreshadowed the rest of the inning. After another walk, a hit by Werhun knocked in Durdrey. Later, Orloff placed a perfect push bunt between the pitcher and first baseman for an infield hit and an RBI. A few batters later, after another error, junior utility Spike McDougall got two RBIs off a hit to right and Matt Gorgen was pulled.
The rest of the game was just mop up, except for a little excitement in the ninth when freshman pitcher Justin LaTempa gave up three runs to the Golden Bears.
‘I thought that we hit on all cylinders,’ Serrano said. ‘I’ve been very proud of this team for two straight nights.’
The Anteaters return to action Tuesday night at 6 p.m. when they face off against Loyola Marymount at Anteater Ballpark.