Anteaters Roast Bakersfield
UCI 3 CSUB 2
The ace of the UCI baseball team, Daniel Bibona, got off to a shaky start on Friday night by putting runners on first and third with no outs in the bottom of the first. The CSUB Roadrunners were unable to capitalize, however, as Bibona struck out three straight and left both runners on base.
UCI knew it would be important to get their offense off to a quick start after only scoring one run in their loss to No. 5 UCLA on Tuesday.
“We got the base hit by Stevenson in the first inning and then we caught a break in a game in which their guy pitched really well,” Head Coach Mike Gillespie said.
Sophomore Jordan Leyland was the one doing the damage for the Anteaters with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first. His liner to right drove in a pair of runs and gave UCI the lead.
Mick Gaston of CSUB then fought back in the top of the second with a home run over the left field wall. Bibona dug in and recovered though, getting out of the inning with no more damage done.
“In the beginning I wasn’t as sharp as I’d like to be, but I credit them a lot,” Bibona said.
In the top of the third, UCI’s offense got back to work with the help of second basemen Stevenson. His leadoff triple allowed the Anteaters to then score on a fielder’s choice, which increased their lead to two.
“We didn’t get much chance to do much. We didn’t have many runners,” Gillespie said.
After a quiet fourth inning, Bakersfield was able to put another run on the board due to Matt Summers’ error in center field. He attempted to make a magnificent diving catch, yet instead the ball bounced over his head, giving Brandon Boren a leadoff triple. A couple of at-bats later Boren came home on a wild pitch.
Without much action in the sixth, it was Bibona at 87 pitches coming back out to start the seventh for the Anteaters.
“I’m happy with the way it turned out. I felt like I competed and battled and gave us a chance to win and that’s what I’m trying to do every weekend,” Bibona said.
After finishing the seventh, Bibona surprisingly came out to throw the eighth inning at 103 pitches. After just one pitch that turned into a leadoff hit, he was pulled in favor of the reliever Kyle Necke.
Necke looked a bit shaky to start things off, putting runners on first and second with only one out in the top of the eighth. He dug in and fought back though, getting two huge strikeouts that ended UCI’s half of the inning.
“[Necke] didn’t get his slider over, so he won the inning with his fastball … he was very aggressive,” Gillespie said.
UCI was unable to do anything in the bottom of the eighth. Despite only having a one-run lead, Eric Pettis was able to come in and seal the game off. He was flawless, meeting three batters and sending them all down on strikes.
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It was much of the same on Saturday afternoon as UCI came out with another 3-2 win.
The credit was once again due to the pitching staff as Christian Bergman threw 8.1 innings and only gave up two runs in the process.
Coming off of a dominant performance against UC Davis last week that earned him National Player of the Week honors, Bergman is showing that he is returning to his status as a premium collegiate pitcher.
His departure in the ninth gave room for Kyle Necke to come in and make the save. Necke has been one of the few solid options in relief pitching for the Anteaters this season, and it was no different Saturday afternoon. His finished off the Roadrunners with little trouble and earned his seventh save on the season.
UCI 8 CSUB 7
UCI’s bullpen almost let the sweep slip away as Necke gave up three runs in the ninth before freshmen Ruben Orosco and Matt Summers came in to quiet the comeback, leaving the game tied at 7 going into the bottom of the ninth.
In the bottom of the ninth, UCI had their big bats up, and they did not fail to deliver. Hernandez walked, Cusick singled, and Ronnie Shaeffer was walked intentionally. This set up a game-winning RBI from senior Dillon Bell. The Anteaters now stand at 27-14 on the season.