By Jordan Medina
Looking to continue their winning ways, the UC Irvine baseball team (8-4) took two out of three games from UTSA (7-4) this weekend. Both teams entered the series with winning streaks as the ‘Eaters had won four straight and UTSA had won their past three going into Friday’s game. UC Irvine continued their streak after taking Friday’s game 7-3, in what coach Mike Gillespie described as an “ugly win.”
“There wasn’t much to like about this game, except it’d feel a lot worse if we lost,” coach Gillespie said. “It was an ugly win and an ugly win is way better than any kind of loss.”
After a scoreless first two innings, the third inning saw UTSA get on the scoreboard first and take a one run lead. The ‘Eaters would tie the game in the next inning when junior outfielder Evan Cassolato scored on a sacrifice fly from sophomore outfielder Keston Hiura.
Junior infielder John Brontsema, playing in his first game of the season, singled in a run in the fifth inning to give the Anteaters the lead. Brontsema had a strong return to the lineup, finishing the game with three hits, one RBI and a run scored.
“I didn’t want to do anything too complicated the first day back,” Brontsema said. “I just wanted to get as much barrel as I could on the baseball. I was able to do that a few times today and it worked out.”
UTSA would retake the lead after scoring two runs in the top of the sixth inning and led entering the bottom of the seventh. UCI would send ten batters to the plate in the seventh inning while also scoring five runs. With sophomore infielder Parker Coss on second, Brontsema hit an infield single up the middle, but a throwing error by a Roadrunner infielder allowed Cross to come around and score, tying the game at three. A couple batters later, with Brontsema on second, sophomore infielder Cole Kreuter hit a single to give UCI the lead again. The ‘Eaters would score three more runs in the inning on a bases loaded walk and a two run single from senior Jonathan Muñoz. UTSA would threaten to score in the ninth after getting two runners on, but a double play ended the game.
Saturday turned into a busy day as forecasts of rain on Sunday forced the two teams to play a doubleheader. In the first game of the day, UTSA jumped out to a four run lead in the first inning and never looked back. The lead would balloon to ten runs before UCI scored their only two runs in the bottom of the sixth. A run in both the seventh and ninth innings provided the final margin as UCI lost 12-2.
Sophomore starter Shaun Vetrovec had a rough outing as he suffered his first loss of the season and gave up five runs in four innings of work, including both of the Roadrunner homeruns. The Anteater arms struggled as they gave up fourteen hits to the Roadrunners and walked seven batters. Each of the first three relievers after Vetrovec also gave up at least two runs.
UTSA starter Karan Patel kept the UCI bats at bay as he allowed two runs on five hits for his first win of the season. After he left the game, the ‘Eaters continued to have problems at the plate as they only had one hit over the last three innings of the game.
With the series tied at one game apiece, the second half of the doubleheader went much better for the Anteaters as they won the rubber match 8-3. UCI started the scoring in the second inning with a two run single from freshman catcher Griffin Mazur. The lead grew to five runs in the fifth after a double from Kreuter scored one run, a wild pitch scored another and a triple from senior infielder Mitchell Holland scored the third run of the frame. The Roadrunners would score a run in both the sixth and seventh innings to cut the deficit to three before UCI scored three more runs in the bottom of the seventh. Junior outfielder Adam Alcantara had a particularly eventful seventh inning. Alcantara singled in a run, and after a single from Coss scored another run and moved Alcantara to third, Alcantara stole home for the ‘Eaters’ third run of the inning. UTSA would score a run in the ninth, but a pickoff and a groundout ended the game and the series.
Sophomore Cameron Bishop got the win for the Anteaters, giving up only two runs on three hits in his six plus innings of work while only throwing eighty-four pitches. Bishop started the game off strong as he didn’t allow a baserunner until the fourth inning and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth. After Bishop left the game, juniors Ben Ritchey and Calvin Faucher preserved the win by only allowing one run over the last three innings.
UC Irvine returns to Anteater Ballpark on Tuesday with a game against Bakersfield before heading to Knoxville, Tennessee for a weekend series with the Tennessee Volunteers.