Hornets Swatted, Bulldogs Dozed

The UC Irvine men’s baseball team played some of its best baseball during spring break. From March 13 to March 28, UCI won six of ten games, winning all four games at Anteater Stadium. UCI started this hot stretch by winning two of three games against Sacramento State in Sacramento on March 13 through March 14. UCI then came back to Irvine and defeated San Diego 9-1 on March 16.

The Anteaters then hosted the University of Gonzaga from March 19-21. UCI swept all three games to push its record to 13-6. The concluding win was also Head Coach Mike Gillespie’s 100th win at UCI. After that win, coach Gillespie’s career win-loss record at UCI in three seasons stood at 100-39. Eric Pettis picked up his third win of the year by pitching six strong innings. Francis Larson hit his 19th career homer and Jeff Cusick drove in three runs. UCI is 9-1 at home this year.

The No. 13 ranked Anteaters had their six-game win streak snapped with a 5-3 loss to the Nevada Wolf Pack in Nevada on March 26. Brian Hernandez hit his first home run of the season to give UCI an early 1-0 lead. However, Daniel Bibona was unable to maintain the lead and fell to 3-2 on the year after giving up five runs in 6.1 innings.

UCI dropped the second game in the series against Nevada, 6-4,as well. The Wolf Pack struck early and often. They scored a run in the first, four in the second, and one in the fourth. UCI gave up fourteen hits and only managed eight hits themselves. Starting pitcher Christian Bergman suffered his first loss of the year. He only lasted 3.2 innings, but struck out five. Kyle Hooper came in from the bullpen and pitched four scoreless innings. Jeff Cusick had a double and two RBI’s and Francis Larson had two hits.

Led by a strong eight innings from Pettis and a lineup that finally exploded, UCI salvaged the third game of the series with a 10-3 win over Nevada. Larson had two hits and three RBI, while Ronnie Shaeffer hit his second home run of the year. Necke struck out the side in the ninth inning.

During the hot stretch of play, Kyle Necke and Jeff Cusick earned national and regional recognition. Necke was voted to the College Baseball Foundation “National All-Star Lineup” and Cusick was named CollegeBaseballInsider.com’s West Region Player of the Week. Cusick and Necke were also named Big West Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively. Cusick has hit three homers and driven in 22 runs to go with a .391 batting average as of March 26. Daniel Bibona and Eric Pettis have been named to the College Baseball Foundation Pitcher of the Year watch list for 2010. Pettis is 3-0 with a 3.16 ERA and Necke has three saves on the year.

Other hot bats for UCI include senior Casey Stevenson, who is hitting at a .300 clip with one bomb and 13 RBI’s, junior Brian Hernandez who is hitting .353 with 14 RBI’s, and Junior Ryan Fisher, who has three homers and 11 RBI’s.

UC Irvine will open up its conference schedule on April 1 at Cal State Northridge. The Anteaters will return to Irvine on April 6 to face San Diego State. They will then take on rival Cal State Fullerton in a huge series beginning April 9.