The UC Irvine Baseball Team headed into their match-up against UCLA riding a wave of momentum having won nine of their pervious 10 games. Unfazed, the Bruins snapped the Anteaters’ hot streak as they rallied to score the final seven runs of the game, handing UCI an 8-4 UCI loss.
The game went as planned, at least on paper, for the first four innings as UCI (33-20) grabbed an early 4-1 lead. Junior third baseman Chad Lundahl and junior second baseman Cody Cipriano combined for a total of three RBIs. Cipriano continued his hot streak Tuesday going 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
In the last two weeks, including Friday and Saturday’s games against Cal State Northridge, Cipriano batted .458 with five RBIs and four runs scored. After the game he said, ‘I know my at-bats have been going well and I’ve been seeing the ball well, but I’d take 0-for-4 and a win over 4-for-4 and a loss any day.’
Yet, the inability of a usually strong bullpen to hold a three-run lead contributed to the team’s loss. In a sense, the pitching breakdowns were foretold from the very beginning of the game. Starter Gary Nakashima began the game by loading the bases in each of the first two innings, giving up one earned run. Of the five pitchers used in the game, only freshman reliever Kyle Necke managed to escape without allowing an earned run.
‘I feel like these guys are prepared and trained to get things stopped,’ Serrano said after the game. ‘I didn’t feel we got things stopped. This wasn’t a very good night for us on the mound, not just because they scored eight runs. We didn’t pitch. We didn’t pitch like we have been. We weren’t able to throw off speed pitches over the plate.’
While his statement held true for the game as a whole, it particularly applied to junior reliever Dylan Axelrod, who has compiled an 8.20 ERA in his last five appearances. In the game on Tuesday he gave up four earned runs in two innings allowing UCLA (28-21) to take a lead that would prove to be unrecoverable for the Anteaters.
Cipriano cleared up any questions about the losses becoming an epidemic when he noted that ‘this is an intense, fun-loving group. Everyone loves each other, everybody rallies around each other. There’s lots of energy flowing out of the dugout. I’m not worried at all. We’re ready to go.’
As the team headed off to face Cal State Northridge (26-26, 6-11) this past weekend, Serrano seemed to be optimistic about his team’s chances on the road. ‘This is going to be an offensive ballpark we’re going into this weekend at Northridge and we’re going to need to be swinging the bats well in order to be successful,’ Serrano said. His incredible powers of foretelling the truth may be waning.
Saturday night, after dropping the series opener 2-6, the ‘Eaters defeated the Northridge Matadors 3-0 behind the solid pitching of Glenn Swanson (9-4). The senior starter has come on very strong as of late, proving that the tenderness in his arm earlier in the season is insignificant. On Saturday he threw 99 pitches in a complete game shutout, striking out six batters on his way to the win. He has been part of three shutouts this season, including tossing a complete game no-hitter on April 25 against the University of San Diego.
Saturday night’s game raised Swanson’s total to 288 fanned batters in his career, giving him the new strikeout record at UCI. He passed Gary Wheelock, who had held the previous record with 287 career strikeouts from 1972 to 1974.
Though UCI dropped three in row during this past week, they still may have a chance to make it to post-season play. Tied with UC Riverside and Cal Poly San Louis Obispo