’Eaters Slay The Matadors

Gilberto Cardenas/New University

UCI 9, CSUN 6

UC Irvine’s Big West campaign kicked off Friday night with a nail-biting 9-6 victory over the Cal State Northridge Matadors.

Matt Summers threw 6.1 innings for the win, giving up five hits and three runs to improve his record to 3-2 while maintaining a strong ERA of 2.45. Ronnie Shaeffer and Sean Madigan each knocked in two RBIs, and Christian Ramirez went 4-4, moving his batting average from .171 to .256.

“I just needed to do what I always did, which was remain comfortable behind the plate,” Ramirez said. “The fact that it was the first game of conference was refreshing, it’s like a whole new season. In these games you have to play harder because we need to win these games to get into playoffs.”

CSUN managed to get runs on the board in the top of the fifth inning as Matt Summers pitched himself into a jam, giving up a single and then two consecutive walks to load the bases. CSUN’s Steven Keller then drove a single up the middle to give the Matadors a 2-0 advantage.

The ’Eaters responded with an explosive six-run rally. With Brian Hernandez and Jordan Fox on first and second respectively, Jordan Leyland smacked a single up the middle to drive in Fox. Sean Madigan tied the score, hitting a single to bring Hernandez home. Ronnie Shaeffer blasted a two-run double down the left-field line, followed by Christian Ramirez’s RBI triple which put the ’Eaters up 5-2. Tommy Reyes capped the rally with a sacrifice bunt on a squeeze play, making it 6-2 in favor of UCI.

Despite the large margin, the Matadors battled tough in the next couple of innings to remain in the game. At the top of the sixth inning with two outs and a runner on second, Drew Muren smacked the ball to the right of the field to cut the ’Eaters lead in half, 6-3.

The ’Eaters added another run in the seventh as Shaeffer scored on a wild pitch, but during the top of the eighth, Drew Muren belted a three-run home run to close in on UCI at 7-6.

UCI’s offense got some help in the next inning. With runners on first and second, Drew Hillman laid down a sac bunt that was misplayed, bringing Fox home from second. Madigan again came through with an RBI to bring Hernandez home and increase UCI’s lead by three runs.

The Matadors were not quite finished though. Despite getting the first out, Hernandez placed himself in a jam, issuing two consecutive walks and giving up a single to load the bases. However, he struck out the next batter and caught a line drive from the following hitter to grab his fifth save of the season.

UCI 10, CSUN 4

Ronnie Shaeffer is the man of the weekend. The junior catcher racked up four RBIs on Saturday, including a two-run homer as the ’Eaters trampled the Matadors 10-4 with the help of some stellar pitching from Nick Hoover.

DJ Crumlich and Jonathan Hurst contributed as well, combining for four RBIs. UCI put their offense on display as the entire starting lineup recorded a hit and either registered an RBI or a run. Starter pitcher Andrew Thurman was taken off the mound after giving up three runs in 3.2 innings, and was relieved by Hoover who pitched the rest of the game to improve to 2-1. The redshirt junior provided a stellar relief effort, limiting the Matadors to one run in 5.1 innings of work and notching four strikeouts.

“Every time [Hoover] comes out, he battles his butt off. Today they let him stay a little longer [than normal] but he did what he [always does],” Shaeffer said. “It’s always good to have a guy come in to eat up innings, but then again with a guy like Hoover, we would like to have him in tomorrow too.”

CSUN began their attack at the top of the second inning, bringing men on second and third with a bloop single and a double. They followed with an RBI groundout and a sac fly to lead 2-0.

Shaeffer answered back in the bottom half of the inning. With Madigan on first, Shaeffer belted a two-run homerun over the left-field wall to tie the game at 2-2. Continuing his momentum from Friday night’s game, Ramirez followed with a single slapped to center field and was driven to third base from Jonathan Hurst’s single to right field. After Tommy Reyes was hit by a pitch, DJ Crumlich grounded out, bringing Ramirez home on a fielder’s choice, extending their lead to 3-2.

In the bottom of the fifth, UCI clobbered CSUN’s Jacob Peterson for four runs, after Ramirez loaded up the bases with a bunt single. Jonathan Hurst smacked a two-run double and Tommy Reyes continued the rally with a hit to right to bring Ramirez home, extending UCI’s lead to 9-3. UCI finished off their scoring run with a sacrifice line drive by Crumlich that brought home Hurst, finishing the inning with a 10-3 lead.

UCI 8, CSUN 5

The Anteaters brought out the brooms on Sunday, April 3, as they defeated the Matadors, 8-5.

UC Irvine’s starting pitcher Matt  Whitehouse ran into trouble early as he gave up two runs in 2.2 innings of work. The Anteaters’ offense bailed Whitehouse out, scoring seven runs in the first two innings. Kyle Hooper recorded his third win of the season, as he provided 5.2 innings of relief.

The Anteaters will next take on the University of San Deigo on April 4 and then travel to CSUF for a three-game series.