No. 27 Irvine sweeps Hawai’i — Sparks totals career-high 5 RBI Sunday with two round-trippers.
There was no pot of gold at the end of Hawai’i’s rainbow this past weekend as No. 27 UC Irvine swept the Rainbow Warriors 3-0. Friday night’s win marked the first UCI Big West victory as the ’Eaters improved to 20-8 overall and 3-3 in Big West play. Sophomore Taylor Sparks hit three jacks in the series with a career-high 5 RBI in Sunday’s game while Dominique Taylor cleared the fence himself in Saturday’s game.
Hawai’i 1, UCI 4
On Friday night at Anteater Ballpark in front of 810 fans, right-hander Andrew Thurman led the ’Eaters to a 4-1 victory, allowing just three hits and one run in 8.2 innings pitched.
Just one out short of throwing his second complete-game this season, it wasn’t until the ninth outing that an unearned run would score against the junior. With one out, two men on and a blanked Hawai’i through eight with 4-0 on the scoreboard, third baseman Taylor Sparks bobbled what could have been a game-ending double play, but instead the error would load the bases. Coach Gillespie headed to the mound, but Thurman remained in the game. With a 1-2 count, the next batter singled to UCI’s second baseman, who tossed it to shortstop Chris Rabago for the second out of the inning, but the Warriors would score on the play before pitching coach Daniel Bibona made a trip to the mound.
Andrew Thurman handed the ball off to Race Parmenter, who would get the save after fielding a grounder and tossing it to first.
First baseman Connor Spencer led UCI, going 2/3 Friday night with an RBI, while sophomore Taylor Sparks went yard in the fourth inning for his third home run this season.
Hawai’i 1, UCI 4
On the warm Saturday afternoon for the second game of the series, UCI would match its score from the night before, finishing 4-1 for its second Big West victory. Left-handed pitcher Matt Whitehouse totaled a career-high nine strikeouts as the ’Eaters clinched the series.
In 7.2 innings, Whitehouse blanked the Bows through the seventh inning while holding Hawai’i to two hits. With two walks, an unearned run crossed the plate in the eighth frame.
Rabago totaled three hits in the contest, scoring two runs while third-year transfer Dominique Taylor belted a two-run home run in the seventh for a 4-0 lead.
After two scoreless innings, Rabago smacked a line drive to right followed by a walk dealt to Taylor. With Connor Spencer at the plate, the runners advanced to second and third and Spencer would knock in Rabago to break the 0-0 tie.
UCI would get another run on the board in the sixth, as Spencer got the ’Eaters started with a hit just right of the second baseman. Shaeffer then sent one into deep right field to move Spencer into scoring position. On a 2-2 count, Sparks smacked a seeing-eye base hit to drive in Spencer for a 2-0 lead.
The Anteaters scored again in the seventh on Taylor’s round-tripper for the 4-0 lead.
At the start of the eighth, Sparks backhanded a grounder to third. However, his throw to first was high and Hawai’i took the base. The runner then advanced to second on a ground-out to first, and the next batter would move the runner over on a ground-out to second.
Mitch Merten then took to the mound for a .1 inning-outing during which he allowed one hit that drove in Hawai’i’s single run.
Senior catcher Ronnie Shaeffer ended the inning by throwing out a man at second base.
Parmenter entered in the ninth inning for the save after sitting down the final three batters in seven pitches.
Hawai’i 0, UCI 9
On Sunday, to complete the sweep, pitcher Matt Morales dealt seven complete innings, allowing just one hit and zero runs scored.
Litchfield entered in the eighth, allowing two hits and striking out one Bow.
Kyle Hooper dealt the ninth and allowed just one hit to secure the win.
Sparks was a spectacle in Sunday’s outing, hitting two over the fence for 5 RBI, going 2/4 with two runs scored.
Connor Spencer went 2/4 with an RBI and is hitting for a .408 average.
UC Irvine travels to San Diego Tuesday, and is back at Cicerone Field on the 12th to kick off a conference series versus CSUN.