By Jordan Medina
While most UCI students were busy with finals or spring break, the UCI baseball team (14-7) continued their season with a few games in that same timespan. Since their home game against the Bakersfield Roadrunners on March 8, the ‘Eaters played eight games in the two weeks afterwards.
A weekend series from March 11-13 against the Tennessee Volunteers (14-9) was full of intrigue, as it represented the program’s first ever trip to the state and also matched coach Mike Gillespie up against his predecessor at Irvine, Dave Serrano. UCI dropped the first two games in lopsided fashion, losing both by double digits. After weather forced the two teams to play a doubleheader on Saturday, the ‘Eaters were able to bounce back to shutout the Volunteers in the series finale and avoid the sweep. UCI scored a pair of runs in the third inning while the Anteater arms kept the Volunteer bats at bay.
After their trip to Knoxville, the team played a four game home stand the following week, starting with a midweek matchup against Maryland (11-12) on March 16. Despite never trailing, the ‘Eaters played a tense, back and forth game against the Terrapins before eventually pulling away for a 9-5 victory. Bolstered by a thirteen hit effort from the team and runs in every inning from the third through the sixth, UCI was able to dispatch their Big Ten foe.
Cicerone Field played host to more games a few days later when the Anteaters faced Seattle (14-9) for a weekend series from March 18-20. The series opener featured a close pitcher’s duel, with the game scoreless in the eighth inning before UCI jumped on the Redhawks for four runs in the frame for a 4-0 victory. The following day, the two teams play another close game before the ‘Eaters used a walk off bases loaded walk to win 3-2. The Sunday series finale saw UCI trail for the first time all weekend, before a six run outburst in the eighth inning let the ‘Eaters come back and win, 8-4. The win finished off the series sweep while also running UCI’s win streak to five games.
On March 22, UCI welcomed Loyola Marymount (10-14) in the second half of their season series and were unable to continue their winning streak, falling 7-2. The ‘Eaters finished with a season split against LMU, as both teams won on the road. The Lions jumped on the Anteater arms immediately, as they scored in the first inning and never trailed the entire game.
The Anteaters return to action on Tuesday when they visit the San Diego Toreros before beginning conference play this weekend with a series in Honolulu against the Hawaii Warriors. UCI returns to Anteater Ballpark on April 8 for a three game series against conference foe UC Riverside.