By Jordan Medina
UCI baseball (20-12, 4-5) dropped its first two games against Long Beach State (21-13, 5-4) before winning the final game of the series and avoiding the sweep.
Friday night ended in heartbreaking fashion after the ‘Eaters lost a tense twelve inning game, 3-2. After a scoreless first four innings, a two run double from sophomore infielder Cole Kreuter opened up the scoring and gave the Anteaters the lead. UCI would remain ahead heading into the eighth inning, when they had a chance to extend the lead. With a runner on third and only one out, the ‘Eaters looked poised to get another run, but a strikeout and a failed steal of home on the same pitch ended the inning and swung momentum towards Long Beach. In the bottom half of the frame, LBSU made the Anteaters pay for their wasted opportunity by tying up the game on a two run single. Senior starting pitcher Elliot Surrey pitched well, striking out six Dirtbags and only allowing three hits in seven and a third innings, but his work was undone by his struggles in the eighth inning. After a scoreless ninth, the game entered extra innings and in the twelfth inning, a bases loaded single won the game for Long Beach.
In Saturday’s game, UCI fell behind early and trailed the rest of the way before losing, 8-3. Long Beach got on the board first, scoring a run on a bases loaded single, and in the next inning, a two run homer extended the lead to three runs. In the top of the fourth, the ‘Eaters cut the deficit to one after an RBI groundout and an RBI single, but it was the closest that they would get the rest of the game. In the bottom of the fourth, Long Beach would immediately respond with a leadoff home run and would score three more runs in the inning to push their lead up to five. A home run from senior infielder Mitchell Holland would bring a run back for the Anteaters, but another Long Beach run in the eighth would provide the final margin of victory for LBSU. The Anteaters would make it interesting in the top of the ninth by loading the bases with one out, but two consecutive strikeouts would end the threat and the game.
Looking to avoid the sweep, UCI fell behind early again in Sunday’s series finale. A solo shot would give Long Beach the lead in the second inning, and they would hold that lead until the fifth inning, when junior catcher Alex Guenette tripled in a run to tie the game. He would score on an RBI groundout on the next at-bat to give the Anteaters a lead that they wouldn’t let go. The ‘Eaters would score three runs in the sixth and another run in the seventh to push their advantage to five runs. An RBI single in the ninth would give UCI eight runs on the day, and even though Long Beach would load the bases in the bottom of the ninth, they would only get one run before a strikeout ended the game, 7-2.
After the home run in the second, LBSU would only get one hit the rest of the game as sophomore starting pitcher Alonzo Garcia would pitch a gem, allowing only one run and two hits over a career high eight innings, while only throwing ninety-eight pitches.
UCI continues their road trip with a Tuesday matchup at San Diego State before a weekend series at UC Davis. The Anteaters will return to Anteater Ballpark on April 25 when they face UNLV.