Beep, Beep! Roadrunners Caught
UCI 7, CSUB 0
Dating back to sophomore ace Andrew Thurman’s one-hitter on April 14 against Cal State Fullerton, the Anteaters are 7-10 when the Thurmanator isn’t on the hill. Lucky for the ’Eaters, Thurman was starting once again on Friday night against Cal State Bakersfield at Cicerone Field.
Improving to 8-2 overall and 6-0 in his last six starts, the sophomore blanked CSUB, dealing his second one-hitter of the season. The 7-0 win made it the third time Thurman has given up one hit or less in his past six starts. In that span, his earned run average is a meager 0.89.
In the top of the second inning, freshman right fielder Taylor Sparks had a chance to lay out for a fly ball to right field. Caught in no man’s land, Sparks didn’t dive, and took a poor angle to the ball, leading to a triple. The triple would prove to be the only hit of the evening for CSUB, and had it come in the seventh inning, when fleeter-footed freshman Justin Castro was brought in as a defensive replacement, the substitute would have likely sold out for his pitcher and given Thurman his second no-hitter of the season.
“I missed my spot and he turned on it,” Thurman said. “I’m not mad at all. It wasn’t like Fullerton where they hit a bloop single (to break up a no-hitter in the ninth inning).”
“I think [Sparks] should have played it into a single, myself,” Gillespie added. “I think he gave it his best shot. It was a little early in the game to be thinking no-hitter. It would have been nice to get one, but it was a good night.”
On Friday evening, freshman catcher Jerry McClanahan caught a runner stealing, and had an interesting night at the plate. McClanahan was hit by a pitch in the ankle in his first plate appearance, but was left stranded when Sparks struck out to end the bottom of the second.
The catcher then came up with the bases juiced in the bottom of the third with the Anteaters up 2-0. McClanahan once again took an offering from CSUB starter Austin Davis off the ankle, and began trotting to first base; but home plate umpire Dwayne Finley missed the ball-on-foot collision and ordered McClanahan to return to home plate. The freshman pleaded his case before stepping back into the box with three men on and no outs. He then stroked a two-run single up the middle to break the game open, 4-0.
In the bottom of the seventh, McClanahan took a pitch from reliever James Barragan off the shoulder blade for his second official hit-by-pitch of the game.
“[McClanahan] got hit three times tonight, but the umpire missed one in that second at-bat,” Gillespie said. “But come on, he gets a hit after that and drives in two runs, so I guess we’re glad the umpire missed that one.”
Just prior to McClanahan’s final beaning of the evening, senior center fielder Christian Ramirez drove a pitch to deep right field, tagging at third base was senior Tommy Reyes, and the Anteaters scored their seventh and final run of the evening on the sac fly.
Having dealt several full counts throughout the evening, Thurman’s pitch count began to be of concern through seven innings. But the righty made quick work of CSUB in the eighth, with a strikeout sandwiched by two flyouts. In the ninth, Thurman induced three easy groundouts to close out the victory. Sophomore Dillon Moyer fired the ball across the diamond from third base to Jordan Fox at first base to end Thurman’s third complete game shutout in five starts, finishing with exactly 100 pitches.
Ending a three-game losing streak and claiming the team’s 29th win of the season, Gillespie and the Anteaters know they need to get hot and hope for a Long Beach State meltdown in order to slip into an NCAA Regional next month.
“We’re trying to plug away,” Gillespie said. “We’ve dug a hole for ourselves, but we’re really trying to finish strong. I actually think the measure of competitors is how they finish when it has been disappointing. Do they keep getting after it? I think we are, we are, as a matter of fact. There’s a pulse left, so let’s just keep plugging.”
UCI 4, CSUB 5
Left with a runner on second base, the Anteaters watched CSUB outfielder Kevin Younger lay out for a diving catch to seal a Bakersfield victory on Saturday afternoon, halting UCI’s rally. Losing 5-4, it marked Irvine’s fourth loss in five games.
Down 5-2 in the seventh inning, freshman Chris Rabago trimmed CSUB’s lead in the eighth with an RBI single. In the ninth, freshman Taylor Sparks stroked a pinch-hit double, putting runners on second and third. Senior shortstop D.J. Crumlich then squeezed a runner home with a sacrifice bunt, cutting Bakersfield’s lead to one. Up came second baseman Tommy Reyes, 1-2 with an RBI on the ballgame. Reyes’ line drive out to left could have sent the game to extras, but Younger had other thoughts.
Sophomore righty Phillip Ferragamo had a quality start, but was taxed for 98 pitches in 6.1 innings. Ferragamo took the loss after he surrendered four runs, three earned, four hits and two walks. At 3-5, with a 3.99 ERA, the sophomore has plugged away, but hasn’t received enough weekend run support from his lineup. On Saturday, the Anteaters almost handed their starter a no-decision, but instead Irvine moved to 17-13 in non-conference games — a tough sell to an NCAA selection committee.
UCI 15, CSUB 6
Irvine entered the bottom of the seventh on May 20 with a slim 6-5 lead, but UCI broke out with two runs in the seventh and a whopping seven runs in the eighth, en route to a 15-6 series clinching victory.
At 30-22, Irvine avoided dropping its second straight series with a late-inning breakout against the CSUB Roadrunners.
On senior day, shortstop D.J. Crumlich, second baseman Tommy Reyes, center fielder Christian Ramirez, first baseman Jordan Fox and starting pitcher Crosby Slaught all made their final weekend appearances at Cicerone Field. Their final home game takes place on May 22 against UCLA.
Slaught improved to 7-6, making his career record to 23-9. In four years, Slaught has been one of the most notorious Anteaters on the hill. Often benefiting from run support in year’s past, this season has been a mediocre showing for the senior, considering the Irvine offense has been lackluster throughout the season. On Sunday afternoon, the Anteaters stepped up once more to give their starter one last bit of run support.
Fox released the hounds on Sunday, going 2-5 with three runs scored and an RBI. Hitting .325, Fox has 35 RBI, 10 stolen bases and just 17 strikeouts in 200 at-bats this season.
“Go D.J., that’s my” D.J. Crumlich was 2-4 with an RBI. Crumlich is hitting .324 with 15 doubles in 2012.
Reyes was 3-3 with two walks and two RBI. He’s hitting .302 with 32 RBI.
Ramirez had one hit and scored two runs on Sunday, hitting cleanup. In the outfield, he has made just one error in 2012, while batting .327.
With four games remaining, Irvine could surely use a few more victories this week at UC Davis.