Playoffs: Here We Come
It was a historic night for UC Irvine baseball that ended in dramatic fashion on Tuesday.
The name of the field, Anteater Ballpark, was dedicated and renamed in honor of former Chancellor Ralph Cicerone, who helped resurrect the UCI baseball program in 2002. Nearly three and a half hours later, Casey Stevenson helped further the Anteater tradition of winning by delivering a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th to score freshman Ronnie Shaeffer from second.
The crowd of 2,726 erupted as Tommy Reyes crossed the plate.
With the game tied at three in the top of the 10th inning, UCLA’s Cody Decker sent his 20th home run of the season over the fence off Anteater closer Eric Pettis to hand UCI a 4-3 deficit going into the bottom of the 10th.
Reyes sparked the UCI rally in the bottom of the 10th with a one-out double off UCLA ace Garret Cole, who was brought in for relief. He then reached third on a groundout, and scored when Shaeffer’s grounder was mishandled. Shaeffer advanced to second on a wild pitch, and then scored courtesy of Stevenson’s bat.
Eric Deragisch hit his third home run of the season in the sixth inning when he took a pitch-tip from first baseman Jeff Cusick. His two-run shot tied the game at three.
Brock Bardeen got the start and allowed three earned runs in 3.2 innings. Kyle Necke followed with 4.1 innings pitched with a career-high eight strikeouts. Pettis improved to 5-2 after pitching two innings, and allowing one earned run.
UCI 11 UCSB 7
Top-ranked UC Irvine scrapped together a 10-run inning against UC Santa Barbara on the road to defeat the Gauchos 11-7 on Friday night.
Jeff Cusick led the team with three RBIs, batting two for four with a run scored. Casey Stevenson and Ronnie Shaeffer added two RBIs each. Ryan Fisher, DJ Crumlich, Ben Orloff and Eric Deragisch all drove in a run as well.
The Gauchos took an early lead off a Brian Gump RBI single, but the ’Eaters would tie the score on a Stevenson home run, his third of the season, in the fourth inning. Matt Valaika countered with a home run of his own, on a two-run shot off UCI starter Daniel Bibona in the bottom of the inning.
Then in the fifth, UCI brought 14 batters to the plate in an offensive barrage. With two outs and one on, UCSB starter Mike Ford walked the next two batters to load the bases for Deragisch, who was hit by a pitch to make it 3-2. Shaeffer then singled up the middle to plate two runs and give UCI the 4-3 lead. Stevenson singled to bring two on base for Cusick, who belted a three-run home run for the 7-3 lead. Larson and Fisher then rocketed back-to-back doubles. Crumlich singled in Fisher, while Orloff scored Crumlich to cap the scoring.
Bibona allowed three earned runs in the sixth inning before handing the ball off to reliever Matt Dufour, who allowed one earned run but pitched an impressive 3.2 innings, striking out four to earn his first save of the season.
Bibona improved to 11-1 on the season on an afternoon when he was bailed out by the UCI offense and relief pitching.
UCSB 8 UCI 2
Starter Christian Bergman struggled for the second straight week as he left too many pitches high and allowed four Gauchos to capitalize on them for four home runs en route to an 8-2 UC Irvine loss. It was only the second loss in the Big West for the Anteaters, who have already clinched the conference title.
UC Santa Barbara scored first, on a two-out RBI single from Ryan Cavan and then took a 4-0 lead in the third as Mark Haddow, Brian Gump and Cavan each hit solo home runs.
UCI got on board in the fourth inning when Ronnie Shaeffer singled in Ben Orloff, but UCSB attacked with the long ball again in the bottom of the inning when Shane Carlson led off the inning with a bomb. UCSB later made it 6-1 on a sacrifice fly.
Tony Asaro scored on a single by Jordan Leyland after he doubled in the fifth to cut the Gaucho lead to four at 6-2.
UCSB tagged reliever Corey Hamilton with two more solo home runs in the sixth inning, making the highest total given up by Anteater pitchers this season in a single game at six.
UCI had a chance to come back in the seventh when they loaded the bases for Deragisch with two out, but he flew out to right field to end the inning.
Bergman fell to 9-2 and his season ERA went up from just under three to 3.30. Hamilton pitched three innings and allowed two earned runs while striking out two.
It was the first time UCI lost a Saturday contest since April 25 in Utah.
UCI 15 UCSB 3
The UCI baseball team finished the regular season with a 15-3 win on Sunday against UCSB. The Anteaters finish the season 43-13 (22-2) with a Big West title and most likely a top ranking in the nation. The ’Eaters didn’t drop a series all-season.
Crosby Slaught improved to 7-0 on the season.