By Jordan Medina
UC Irvine (26-19) took on UCLA (23-22) this past weekend in a unique series where games were played in both Los Angeles and Irvine. The ‘Eaters entered the series hoping to snap their three game losing streak while the Bruins had won their previous two games.
Friday night’s game in Los Angeles saw the Anteaters come out on top in an extra inning thriller, 4-2. UCLA opened up the scoring in the first inning with the first run of the game, but the ‘Eaters responded in the third inning. Junior John Brontsema hit a two RBI double to turn the deficit around and give UCI the lead. Despite both teams getting runners to third in the following innings, the ‘Eaters would remain up 2-1 until the seventh inning, when the Bruins tied the game on a wild pitch. In the ninth inning, UCI would load the bases with two outs, but a flyout would strand all three runners and end their threat. UCLA almost capitalized on this momentum when they put a runner on third with two outs in the bottom half of the frame, but junior pitcher Ben Ritchey would strike out the batter to send the game into extra innings. In the top of the tenth inning, the ‘Eaters would load the bases with two outs, and this time they would capitalize, as junior outfielder Adam Alcantara would single in two runs to give UCI a 4-2 lead. In the bottom half of the inning, junior closer Calvin Faucher would retire all three batters he faced, striking out the last two to seal the victory.
With the ‘Eaters up a game in the series, the two teams headed to Irvine for their Saturday afternoon game. UCLA would get on the board first with a run in the second and would add another run in the fourth to push their advantage to two. UCI would respond with an RBI groundout in the fifth to cut the deficit in half, but would not score the rest of the game. The Anteaters had a chance to tie the game in the sixth inning, when they put a runner on third with two outs, but a popout would end the threat. The score would remain 2-1 until the ninth inning, when the Bruins would add two insurance runs. UCI would go three up, three down in the bottom half of the inning to end the game.
The Anteater bats were stifled throughout the day as they only amassed four hits over the course of the game while striking out nine times.
“The guy was just overpowering with that breaking ball…it’s hard to lay off, and we proved it was hard to lay off,” said coach Mike Gillespie. “He was just too good for us.”
On Sunday, the series shifted back to Los Angeles for the rubber match as both teams had split the first two games. UCLA would score first again in the series, going up a run in the first inning and would go on to score another run in the fourth to go up two runs. UCLA would score three runs in the eighth inning included a two run homerun and a runner scoring from first on a steal attempt after an errant throw to push their advantage to five heading into the ninth. Senior infielder Mitchell Holland would put the ‘Eaters’ lone run the board after an RBI single, but the team couldn’t push across any more runs as they lost 5-1.
UCLA was able to quiet UCI’s bats again, as the ‘Eaters didn’t get their first hit until the seventh inning, while also striking out nine times for the second game in a row.
UCI returns to action on May 10, as they take on San Diego at Anteater Ballpark. The ‘Eaters won their previous matchup with the Toreros back on March 29, 9-2, and look to complete the season sweep.