By John Nordilillo
The UCI Anteaters could not handle the NC Dinos of the Korean Professional Baseball League on Thursday night, falling 6-2 in an exhibition game at Anteater Ballpark in front of 515 fans. Untimely errors and a quiet night for the bats ultimately did the ‘Eaters in as they committed 3 errors and posted only 4 hits.
The Dinos struck first and established a lead early on which they never relinquished. A rocket off the bat of Dinos DH Eric Thames in the third inning disappeared over the 380 ft. marker in left-center field, a display of power never before seen by Coach Mike Gillespie. “No left hander has hit the ball over that fence. He [Thames] hit a home run last year when we played them. It left here like a 747.”
In addition to Thames’ three-run shot, Na Sung Bum of the Dinos launched a solo shot to lead off the fifth inning. The two combined to hit 68 home runs in the KPBL, which is the Korean equivalent of the MLB. Thames even took home MVP honors after registering 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases last season.
UCI finally got on the board in the sixth inning when junior first basemen Andrew Martinez clanked the first pitch he saw over the fence, ending a streak of four consecutive innings in which the ‘Eaters were retired 1-2-3. Pinch hitter Alex Guenette pushed across a second run in the bottom of the ninth with an RBI double, scoring Matt Reitano.
The meek offensive output was more a product of superior pitching from the Dinos than ineffectiveness of the ‘Eaters. “It was impressive pitching. We certainly see some college pitching that you’d say is comparable, but some means relatively little. And they sent one guy after another,” said Gillespie. Seven pitchers in total took the mound for the Dinos, striking out 11 Anteaters and walking only three.
UCI’s pitching staff took a few innings to find their groove, as Alonzo Garcia gave up one unearned run in two innings of work and Mitchell Miller was charged with four earned runs in three innings. Miles Glazier, Jordan Bocko, and Daniel Alvarez closed the game with four no-hit frames after the Dinos had subbed out most of their starters.
“Frankly, I’m disappointed we weren’t more competitive,” Gillespie added. However, he was quick to acknowledge the high-end pitching of the Dinos and lamented the ill-timed breakdowns of the UCI defense. “I’m not overly alarmed by it. It was a good look against a good team with good pitching. I think we take away valuable experience as we progress onward and upward.”
The loss will not count on the Anteaters’ record for the season, and they will look to improve on their 2-3 mark as they host the Nevada Wolfpack this weekend February 26-28.