While the UC Irvine Baseball team’s offense had a field day against San Diego State, putting up 12 runs on 15 hits, freshman pitcher Scott Gorgen produced yet another stellar performance. He combined with sophomore hurler Gary Nakashima for nine innings without an earned run.
UCI (8-5) beat SDSU (4-8) by a final score of 12-1 on Feb. 25, with SDSU’s only run coming by way of an error and passed ball in the fourth.
Gorgen (3-1) collected a career-high eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings while allowing only five hits. He picked off a runner in both the first and second innings, helping himself by getting rid of potential runs. His performance solidified his spot as the workhorse pitcher, leading the team with a 1.01 ERA and 19 strike outs in 26 2/3 innings of work. His ERA is fourth in the Big West.
‘It’s hard for me to remember sometimes that he is only a freshman,’ said UCI Head Coach Dave Serrano of Gorgen. ‘I don’t think he realizes how special he can be as a college pitcher if he just continues to work hard and try to get better each and every day.’
Nakashima collected the save in 3 1/3 innings of work, picking up five strikeouts while allowing only two hits. His 1.08 ERA is second on the team.
‘It was a nice win. I definitely give full credit to my team again. They put the runs on the board for us,’ Gorgen said. ‘Once I started getting in the groove, about the third or fourth inning, I felt confident out there and started hitting my spots. Good things start happening when you do that.’
When asked to explain Gorgen’s string of successes, redshirt sophomore catcher Aaron Lowenstein responded by saying, ‘He keeps the ball down in the zone and his changeup is, well, filthy. He commits to it, he keeps it down and it’s tough to hit.’
Lowenstein had a great game as well, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. His double, crushed to the left field fence in the sixth inning, was the big hit of the night.
‘It felt good to get into [the ball] and support my team,’ Lowenstein said. As for the rest of the game, he noted that, ‘We play small ball, that’s our game, that’s Anteater baseball. We get a guy on, we move him over, and we’ve got guys on our team that pick us up and drive in that run.’
Lowenstein was joined in the scoring brigade by Taylor Holiday, Chad Lundahl and Gary Dudrey, with each contributing two RBIs. Ben Orloff and Matt Morris had one RBI each. Morris continued his five-game hit streak with an infield single in the seventh.
The runs were spread around, as well. Eight different players crossed the plate on the night, with Cody Cipriano leading the way, scoring three times.
‘We don’t have a superstar. It’s a different star every night and I wouldn’t want it any other way,’ Serrano said. He agreed with Lowenstein that the team wins by laying down bunts, picking up infield hits, as well as nabbing singles and walks to win games.
‘We know that in our conference and with our schedule we’re going to run into some buzzsaw pitchers that you’re not going to be able to just sit back and get your swings and get your hits. You’re going to have to resort to something else. They’ve bought into it and they’re executing tremendously,’ Serrano said.
In the spirit of executing and getting on base, junior infielder Brian Roades got on base with an infield hit in his first career at bat, pinch hitting in the eighth inning. It was a spinning bloop that dropped just out of range of the second baseman, getting him on base, where he would later score on a wild pitch.
Roades was redshirted his freshman year, having surgery partway into the season, followed by a second surgery at the beginning of his sophomore year due to an injury, forcing him to sit the bench both seasons.
‘Those kind of things for me as a coach are special.’ Serrano noted. ‘For two years he’s been in this program and was injured, not able to play. We get an opportunity to get him in the game. Maybe he didn’t hit the cover off the ball, but he got his first hit. I gave him the cover of a baseball and I said, ‘I couldn’t find the ball, but I did find the cover and congratulations on your first hit.’ Things like that are special, because he’s worked so hard. He’s one of the most-liked kids on this team. To see him be able to do that is special.’
UCI then traveled down to San Diego to conclude their three game series with the Aztecs, winning their fifth straight game 8-6 in extra innings on Sunday.