‘Eaters Drop Season Opener
In what turned out to be a classic baseball pitching duel to open the season, UC Irvine was shut out by the visiting Fresno State Bulldogs, as they fell short in their home opener in extra innings 2-0.
It was a highly anticipated matchup, as UC Irvine was eager to get back on the field after finishing last season with a record of 33-22 and missing the national regional invitations to NCAA Super-Regionals. Their expectations this season are to compete, to get back to the Super Regional’s tournament, and to possibly compete for a national title.
UCI was only able to muster three hits throughout the entire ball game as they were held in check by opposing starting pitcher Jordan Brink, as he tossed 6 and 1/3 of one hit-scoreless innings ball and was able to keep the ’Eaters off the board.
The ’Eaters were able to counter with their preseason All-American, Andrew Morales, as he debuted his season with seven scoreless innings, only allowing four hits, while striking out eight batters in the process. Morales was able to overcome his biggest threat in the top of thefourth; as the Bulldogs had the bases loaded with one out, before Morales was able to settle down and strike out Taylor Ward, and then got the next batter to ground out to shortstop Chris Rabago to end the inning. Morales was able to build momentum to continue the game and only allowed one base runner over the next three innings before exiting the game, keeping the ’Eaters within striking distance..
The ’Eaters then handed the ball over to relief pitcher, Sam Moore, who came out strong; throwing two scoreless innings of relief, before running into trouble in the top of the 10th. Moore struggled, allowing the first two men to reach base safely before allowing a two run double to Jesse Medrando down the third base line to give the Bulldogs a decisive 2-0 lead over the ’Eaters.
The Anteaters dropped their first season opener in the tenure of head coach Mike Gillespie and first since 2006. Coach Gillespie spoke about the game and said, he “was happy about the way both guys pitched” and when asked about Morales’ pitching performance, he went on to say that he thought “we got the absolute max out of him.” Gillespie also went on to add that he thought shortstop, Chris Rabago, “played sensational” but acknowledges the fact that the team may have been “overpowered” in this game; and may have issues after the starting pitching and scoring runs offensively and are looking for new role players to “step up.”
UC Irvine’s second game of the season came the following day again facing the Bulldogs, and again going into extra innings.
The story in this game was much different however, with the Anteaters falling to the Bulldogs 8-7 in 13 innings.
The first couple of losses will not deter this team from its evident goals, and they’re only going to help the team grow. Despite starting the season 0-2, the ’Eaters must look past the first couple of games, and look forward to the next game and look ahead to the season.