Walk Offs Vault UCI into 2nd in Big West


Marlon Castillo | New University

Marlon Castillo | New University

CLUTCH: Ninth inning heroics and a stellar start from Matt Whitehouse led to an Anteater sweep over UC Davis.

UCD 4, UCI 5

On Friday at Cicerone Field, the UC Irvine baseball team earned a 5-4 victory over the UC Davis Aggies on a walk-off safety squeeze up the first base line from sophomore pinch-hitter Ryan Cooper.

Aggie reliever Max Cordy walked Jerry McClanahan to start the ninth before pinch-runner Justin Castro advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Scott Gottschling.

While intentionally walking Kris Paulino, Cordy threw his second ball to the backstop, allowing Castro to take third base. Two balls later, the Anteaters had Paulino on first and Castro on third with Cooper up at the plate in place of Mikey Duarte.

After squaring around on the first pitch, Cooper delivered a one-out bunt to bring in the winning run. Castro was tagged just after swiping home plate as the UCI bench emptied to swarm Cooper at first.

UCI starter Andrew Thurman allowed four runs in 7.2 innings. He was lifted with two outs in the eighth and a runner on third. Jimmy Litchfield took the mound in relief and helped the ’Eaters out of a bind by inducing a ground out to first to leave the go-ahead run stranded at third.

Mitch Merten threw a scoreless ninth for the Anteaters and improved to 2-0 on the season with Friday night’s win.

UCD 2, UCI 8

Marlon Castillo | New University

Marlon Castillo | New University

Led by starter Matt Whitehouse on Saturday, the ’Eaters took the series in an 8-2 win as Whitehouse blanked the Aggies through seven.

Before giving up two runs in the eighth, Whitehouse totaled 10 Ks, walked one and allowed seven hits.

UCI plated five runs in the fourth to take a 6-0 lead.

Connor Spencer and Taylor Sparks came up clutch in the sixth as they delivered two-out RBIs for an 8-0 advantage.

Davis drove in two runs in the eighth before the ’Eaters brought home the win and the series in an 8-2 final at Cicerone Field.

Reliever Evan Brock pitched 1.1 scoreless innings while allowing three hits.

UCD 3, UCI 4

UCI completed the sweep  on Sunday with a 4-3 finish after trailing 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth inning.

UCI trailed the whole game until sophomore Connor Spencer belted a double to right-center on a 1-2 pitch in the ninth to clinch the 4-3 win.

Marlon Castillo | New University

Marlon Castillo | New University

Davis would score in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings with starter Andrew Morales on the mound to snap his 22.2 scoreless inning streak.

UCI didn’t score until the seventh as Stephens drove in the ’Eaters’ first run on a fielder’s choice. Rabago doubled to right to make it a 3-2 game going into the eighth.

Senior Ronnie Shaeffer led the ’Eaters with three hits, while Spencer had one hit and two RBI.  Rabago added an RBI and recorded a hit in Sunday’s victory

The ’Eaters improve to 28-12 overall and are now 10-5 in Big West play.

Irvine will face UCLA in LA on Tuesday, April 30, before a three-game Big West showdown beginning on Friday, May 3, at UCSB.