By Jordan Medina
To wrap up their season, UCI baseball hosted CSUN this weekend, going out on a high note and winning their last conference series of the season.
The series opened up on a rare Thursday night, a day the ‘Eaters had only played on once all season. After a scoreless three innings, UCI struck first in the fourth inning with an RBI double from junior outfielder Adam Alcantara, taking a one run lead. In the next frame, freshman catcher Matt Reitano would add to the lead with an RBI triple, and would come in on a squeeze bunt to push the Anteater advantage to three runs. Reitano would contribute to the lead again in the seventh inning with an RBI single to give UCI a four run lead. CSUN would score a run in the ninth inning and bring the tying run to the plate, but senior starting pitcher Elliot Surrey would strike out the batter to end the game.
In his last start of his collegiate career, Surrey pitched a gem, throwing a complete game and only allowing one run on three hits, while striking out ten.
“To cap it off like this, it puts a good feeling in my heart knowing that I gave everything I had out there and for this team and I’m proud of that,” Surrey said.
Friday night’s game started off well for the ‘Eaters, as Alcantara drove in the first run again, this time with an RBI single. The Matadors would respond in the fourth inning to tie the game and would take the lead in the fifth to take a three run lead. Neither team would score again until the seventh inning, when the umpire got involved in a controversial play. With a runner on first, CSUN’s batter bunted a ball in front of home plate, where Reitano picked it up and threw to first base, where sophomore second baseman Cole Kreuter was expected to be. But Kreuter ran into the first base umpire, preventing him from covering the bag as Reitano’s throw sailed into right field and CSUN scored a run.
“I’ve never seen it. There’s no plausible explanation for what happened there,” said coach Mike Gillespie. “The second baseman ran directly to the bag, which he’s supposed to do and what in the hell the umpire was doing in the path of the second baseman is baffling and there is no acceptable excuse for it.”
The Matadors would score three more runs in the inning to take a seven run lead. UCI would score a run in the eighth after an RBI single from sophomore outfielder Keston Hiura, but wouldn’t score the rest of the way as they dropped the second game of the series.
In Saturday’s season finale and senior day for six of the Anteaters, Alcantara opened up the scoring yet again with an RBI single in the first as the ‘Eaters took a one run lead, but the advantage would be short lived as CSUN would tie the game in the next inning. UCI would take the lead again in the third inning on an inside-the-park homerun. After a deep flyball to left centerfield that bounced off the wall and scored the runner on first, Alcantara raced around the basepaths for his second homerun of the year.
“I knew I hit it pretty well. I didn’t know where it was going or how far it was going so I was kind of just running for a triple and it ended up hitting the wall,” Alcantara said. “It took a good bounce and good thing I was running and I was able to score.”
The Matadors would come back again after scoring three runs in the fourth inning to take a one run lead and would double their advantage with another score in the fifth. The Anteaters would respond in the seventh inning to tie the game after an RBI single from junior shortstop John Brontsema and an RBI double from senior first baseman Mitchell Holland. CSUN would break the deadlock in the next inning with a solo shot to right field to take the lead once again. UCI would threaten to score in the eighth, but their potential tying run would be thrown out at home as CSUN clung to a one run lead entering the ninth inning. Alcantara continued to have a great day at the plate, as his RBI double would tie the game. After a walk and a hit batter, UCI loaded the bases for senior Wyatt Castro, who delivered with a walkoff RBI single in his final at-bat of his college career.
“Just very happy for just ending it that way, ending my senior season that way, ending the season as a team that way,” Castro said.
With the series win against CSUN, the ‘Eaters conclude their 2015-2016 campaign as they will not earn an NCAA bid for the second consecutive years.