Third Ranked ‘Eaters Remain Atop Big West

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer
Senior shortstop Ben Orloff awaits an LMU batter to step to the plate on Monday at home against the Lions.

Baseball opened the week on a high note but was brought back to reality in a few up-and-down mid-week games. The Anteaters hosted Loyola Marmount University on Monday and took advantage of a faulty Lion bullpen. Ronnie Shaeffer and Francis Larson hit two doubles in a row to file in the go ahead run, 5-4. After an RBI sacrifice fly by Jeff Cusick in the eighth, Eric Pettis came in to close and preserve the win, 6-4.

But the team was unable to continue its four game win streak on Wednesday at the University of San Diego. The bullpen could not hold the Torreros off as they put together some late runs to win the non-conference game, 7-4. But not before Larson clubbed his sixth home-run of the season.

UCI 16 UCR 1

The UC Irvine baseball team continues to prove why it deserves its third national ranking as it steamrolled through yet another Big West foe. UCI collected a season-high 20 hits to clobber the UC Riverside Highlanders 16-1 Friday night at Riverside Sports Complex.

Daniel Bibona was his usual self as he pitched seven innings and struck out seven batters, allowing only one run. He improved his record to 6-1. Freshman Ronnie Shaeffer was the leader in the offensive barrage with three hits in five at-bats and recorded five RBIs with three runs scored. Fellow classman Tommy Reyes was two for three with three RBIs. Catcher Francis Larson collected four hits with four RBIs and four runs scored.

Tied at one in the fourth inning, a Reyes double and a two-out single by DJ Crumlich would put UCI up 4-1.

Shaeffer and Larson were the bash brothers in the fifth inning. With two men on, Shaeffer stepped up to the plate and belted a three-run homer over the left field fence. After Shaeffer rounded the bases, Larson blasted the ball over left-center to open the game up wide. It was the fourth back-to-back home runs in Anteater baseball history. The last came in 1986 when Devan Shackley and Tom Blaine hit consecutive home runs at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

UCI would strike again in the seventh and eighth with two and five more runs.

Dillon Bell finished the game with two RBIs.

UCI 9 UCR 6

The UC Irvine bats stayed hot in the second game of the weekend series, but the result was much closer than expected. UCI scored six runs in the first inning on Saturday but saw the Highlanders counter attack. Fortunately, UCI would tack on three more runs and win the game and the series 9-6 at the Riverside Sports Complex.

Casey Stevenson led the Anteaters with three for five hitting and three RBIs. However, two hits and an RBI each from Ryan Fisher, DJ Crumlich and Tommy Reyes capped the win as a team effort on the offensive end.

Christian Bergman pitched 5.1 innings and only allowed two earned runs on nine hits; he didn’t walk any batters.

Closer Eric Pettis pitched a perfect ninth inning to gather his Big West leading 11th save of the season.

UCI 12 UCR 9

The Highlanders bats got started early in Sundays contest as they chased UCI starter Crosby Slaught of the game early as he allowed five earned runs in a third of the inning to give UCR a 5-2 advantage at the end of the first inning.

After tacking on another run the following inning, the UCI relief pitching shut down the Highlander offense and allowed the Anteater bats to work. Kyle Necke, Noel Avison, Matt Dufor, Brock Bardeen and Pettis limited UCR to just three more runs over the last seven innings.

The UCI offense did its part by putting together a three-run fifth inning and a four-run sixth. The ‘Eaters would add a run each in the eight and ninth innings to end the game with 12 runs on 17 hits. Stevenson and Crumlich led UCI with three RBIs each. Larson led all hitters with three hits.

Riverside would threaten in the ninth with two runs to cut the lead to three, but Pettis would close the game out for the UCI win.