Anteaters Split Week’s Action
UCI 6 USC 8
In a non-conference game against USC last Tuesday, UC Irvine put up a tough fight but came out of it without the victory. Considering UCI has taken every one of their last eight games against USC, the loss dealt a hard blow to a team coming off of a three game sweep of CSU Bakersfield.
In the top of the ninth with runners on first and second and one out, the Anteaters hoped to regain their composure and knock in a few game-tying runs. Instead, the Trojans’ Chad Smith offered relief for the final two outs of the game, which unfortunately resulted in a game-ending double play before any damage could be done.
The Anteaters’ main problem that the on Tuesday night stemmed from what has most recently been their biggest strength — starting pitching. Coach Gillespie chose to start part-time outfielder Matt Summers on the mound, a spot that has been a bit of a revolving door of Anteater pitchers.
Seeing as he is most often used as a reliever, virtually the entire game was pitched out of the bullpen for UCI. As vulnerable as the Anteaters were from the pen, they got 5.1 good innings of relief from right-hander Evan Brock, who only gave up one run on a walk and a hit.
UCI 3 Cal Poly 1
When your starting pitcher gives you eight good innings and only allows one run in the process, you expect to win. But the victory was no sure thing for UCI on Friday night.
In opposition to UCI’s Daniel Bibona, who retired the first 12 batters of the game, Cal Poly starter Matt Leonard rose to the occasion and only gave up two runs in eight strong innings. The game was a verifiable pitcher’s duel.
While the Anteaters got a run in the first inning on a double by Sean Madigan and a single from Casey Stevenson, it took some small ball in the fourth for Cal Poly to plate their first run.
UCI gained an insurance run against Cal Poly reliever Frankie Reed in the ninth. Stevenson continued his clutch hitting by knocking in Francs Larson. With a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, Eric Pettis came in to make his fifth save of the season for the Anteaters.
With another strong outing on Friday, Bibona picked up the win and improved to 9-2 on the season.
UCI 7 Cal Poly 15
It was apparent that the bats hadn’t been used much in the pitchers duel on Friday night, because they were swinging on all cylinders in a shootout Saturday night. In the process both UCI’s Christian Bergman and Cal Poly’s Mauldin were victimized, both giving up six runs.
However, Bergman’s start was his shortest of the season at 3.1 innings while Mauldin lasted through seven. After coming off of a magnificent start two weeks ago and a strong game last weekend, it appears that Bergman’s troubles that appeared early in the season are back.
It wasn’t just Bergman struggling on Saturday night though, as even the relievers had trouble. Brock, who came in for Bergman in the fourth, gave up four runs in just three innings of work.
Brian Hernandez shined offensively for UCI, going 3 for 4 with 4 runs scored, while Larson went 2 for 3 with a walk.
UCI 18 Cal Poly 13
The UCI bats decided to take matters into their own hands on Sunday afternoon, battering the Mustang pitching to the tune of 18 runs.
Anteater starter Eric Pettis somehow managed to notch his seventh win of the season despite giving up 16 hits and seven runs in 5.2 innings. Cal Poly actually recorded more hits on the day, with 23, also roughing up Summers, who had a tough week, for five runs in the last inning.
The offensive heroes for UCI were usual culprits Jeff Cusick and Larson, who each tallied an impressive four hits and seven RBI’s. Larson tallied two homeruns, while Cusick added a homerun and two doubles.
UCI improved to 29-16 (10-5 Big West) with the win.