Thurman Cleans out Dirtbags

Marlin Agoub/New University

UCI 10, SDSU 5

 

The Anteaters’ senior sluggers shined at home on Tuesday, April 18, as their contributions on offense propelled UC Irvine to a 10-5 victory against non-conference foes, San Diego State Aztecs. The ’Eaters, losers of five of their previous six games collected a much needed win before hitting the road to face Black and Blue Rivals, Long Beach State.

First baseman, senior Jordan Fox, continued swinging a hot bat and extended his hit-streak to 12 games. Fox, who leads the team in hits, went three for four in game, batted in three runners and scored three runs for the Anteaters, raising his season batting average to .346. His senior counterpart, second baseman, Tommy Reyes, went three for five in the game, with two RBIs and a run scored. Shortstop, senior D.J. Crumlich, got on base three times and scored twice. Crumlich, who leads the ’Eaters in runs, continues to be an impact player at the top of the lineup.

Senior pitcher Crosby Slaught bounced back from his performance against Fullerton last Saturday — a game in which he was pulled in 1.2 innings of work and struggled locating his pitches. Slaught showed much more command on Tuesday, as he limited the Aztecs to a hit over three shutout innings. It was Slaught’s 20th career win as an Anteater, placing him 11th all-time for most wins.

 

UCI 4, LBSU 0

 

For the second year in a row, UC Irvine’s baseball program celebrated a no-hitter on a Friday night series opener versus black and blue rivals, the Long Beach State Dirtbags. After losing his no-hit bid in the ninth inning of last Saturday’s game versus Cal State Fullerton, sophomore Andrew Thurman bounced back to hurl the fifth no-hitter in UC Irvine baseball history, improving his record to 4-2 on the season and solidifying his role as the Anteaters’ ace pitcher. Thurman struck out a total of five batters on 110 pitches, 67 of them going for strikes in his no-hitter. He has now allowed one hit in 17 innings of work.

The ’Eaters scored four runs on Friday night, with the first being the game winner in the top of the second. Sophomore Dillon Moyer roped a single down through the left side past the third baseman to score freshman Kris Paulino from third. In Anteater fashion, UCI extended their lead to 2-0 on a sacrifice fly by freshman Chris Rabago after Connor Spencer reached on a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, and made it to third on a passed ball.

Irvine’s offense would provide Thurman with a couple insurance runs in the ninth inning. Senior Christian Ramirez led off the inning with a double, which was later cashed in by a Jordan Fox triple. Fox would score the final run on a suicide-squeeze by junior Scott Gottschling.

Thurman’s night started out shaky. After getting ahead to a 1-2 count, Thurman walked the lead-off batter by hitting him with a pitch. Thurman, however, would settle down and retire the next 23 batters in a row.

“After hitting the leadoff guy I was focused mainly on not allowing him to score. Long Beach is a good team, and a run in the first inning could have changed the game,” Thurman said.

The Dirtbags would not see another runner until the bottom of the eighth inning when Thurman issued a four-pitch, two-out walk. Again, Thurman would settle down and retire the next batter to end the inning.

Thurman kept the Dirtbag hitters off balance all night, putting out nine of the first 12 outs on fly balls. Using his fastball as his go-to pitch, Thurman was able to change speeds and command both sides of the plate all night.

“Long Beach has some good hitters,” Thurman said. “But basically pitching with my fastball and locating it in and out with the occasional change-up and curve really kept them off balance.”

With three outs to go in the game, Gillespie handed Thurman the ball to finish off the no-no. In the same position as he was in his last start, Thurman admits that it took away some of the nerves from the situation.

“Before I went out [Coach Mike Gillespie] told me if anyone got on, he would pull me, so I was trying to not let anyone get on,” said Thurman.

It’s said that the hardest out of a no-hitter is first batter of the last inning, but on the very first pitch of the inning, Thurman was able to record the first out on a fly ball to shallow right field. The next batter could not do any better, hitting a soft ground ball to second baseman Tommy Reyes for the second out. With one out to go, Thurman remained calm and collective on the mound.

“I just wanted to try to do the same thing,” he said. “I just wanted to go out and throw my game.”

Up next at the plate was Long Beach shortstop, Matt Duffy, a .268 hitter and fourth on the team in hits. Thurman fell behind on the count two balls to none, but just like he had done all night, forced Duffy into an off balance swing that yielded a sky-high fly ball to shortstop Crumlich.

As the ball fell into the glove of Crumlich, Thurman watched and gave a nonchalant fist pump as his team hopped out of the dugout to swarm him on the mound.

“At first it didn’t really hit me,” said Thurman. “It took a second. Then my teammates were on the field mobbing me. It was a great feeling for the no-no, but also the win meant a lot to the team.”

“This series means a lot to us,” he said. “We needed to win.”

 

UCI 3, LBSU 4

 

The Anteaters continued where they left off on Saturday when sophomore pitcher Phillip Ferragamo retired the first eight Long Beach batters to extend the team’s no-hit streak to 11.2 innings. Despite scoring three runs at the top of the first inning, the Anteaters were not able to hold off Long Beach State’s late game heroics.

Irvine took an early lead in the first inning on an RBI single from freshman Connor Spencer. Later in the inning, first baseman Jordan Fox would steal home base to extend the lead to two. The Anteaters final run came on a clutch two-out single by center fielder Christian Ramirez to score junior Scott Gottschling.

UCI, however, was not able to preserve a solid outing by sophomore Phil Ferragamo, who pitched four shutout innings and allowed one run over five innings. Trouble came in the eighth inning when a Dillon Moyer error at second put runners on at first and third with no outs. Relief pitcher Mitch Merten struck out the next batter, but then conceded back to back RBI singles to knot the score up 3-3.

In the bottom of the ninth, relief pitcher Race Parmenter was called upon to hold the score at three. After a lead-off walk, the Dirtsbags executed a sacrifice to advance the runner to second. After an intentional walk, shortstop Matt Duffy delivered with an RBI single for a walk-off win. It was Parmenter’s first loss of the season.

 

LBSU 5, UCI 4

 

Irvine has failed to win another series, losing to Long Beach State for the second year in a row. The loss leaves UCI with a 5-7 record in the Big West and 20-16 overall.

The Dirtbags took an early lead, scoring off a RBI single in the first inning. UCI responded with a two-run inning at the top of the second thanks to a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly hit by Jerry McClanahan.

McClanahan would score again in the fourth inning off a fielding error. Jordan Fox launched a sacrifice fly to right field to give UCI a 4-1 lead. However, that lead would be short-lived as the Dirtbags exploded for three runs in the fifth inning after scoring one in the fourth.

Crosby Slaught gave up a run in the fifth inning following a hit batsman and a single, leading to his replacement. Evan Brock failed to control the damage as he gave up a two-run double to give LBSU a 5-4 lead. Irvine never retook the lead.