UCI baseball (15-25, 2-9) walked into Fowler Park on Tuesday and held on to upset the San Diego Toreros 8-7, but couldn’t carry the momentum into a Big West showdown with perennial powerhouse No. 14 Cal State Fullerton (26-14, 8-3). The ‘Eaters were unable to break open a tie game late in the first outing, eventually falling 5-3, and were on the losing end of a 14-inning marathon in Saturday’s game as Fullerton took the series.
Untimely errors and mistakes again outdid the struggling ‘Eaters, and nullified a comeback attempt after Fullerton was able to capitalize en route to a 5-3 decision.
UCI’s bats finally seem to have woken up, but a lack of situational hitting led to a low run output. Senior Adam Alcantara came back from a hamstring injury to reach base three times on two hits and score a run while three other ‘Eaters registered two-hit games.
Junior Chris Vargas struggled early from the mound, lasting only two innings while the Titans touched him up early, scoring two runs in the second and one in the third. Freshman Ryan Johnston stepped in to shut off the faucet, allowing only one more run in his four stout innings of work.
Junior Connor Seabold worked his way through the ‘Eaters lineup for 7.1 innings, giving 12 hits but conceding only three runs. A two-RBI double by senior Mikey Duarte put UCI on the board in the fifth, but the damage was minimized as the ‘Eaters ended the inning with the bases full.
UCI came back to tie in the seventh as junior Parker Coss singled in Alcantara, but gave the lead right back in the bottom half.
The leadoff Titan batter walked and the next batter reached second on a fielding error, driving the leadoff man all the way to third with no outs. ‘Eater junior Michael Martin only gave up one hit during the frame but both runs would score and put the home team back on top 5-3.
Fullerton’s closer Brett Conine prevented UCI from gaining any momentum back; taking care of the last five batters in a row without issue to preserve the 5-3 win.
The ‘Eaters made the most of their TV time as they battled the Titans for five hours and 14 innings in their nationally-televised game on ESPNU, but fell 3-2 in a match ultimately decided by a walk-off wild pitch.
The extra innings saw much fanfare, with runners in scoring position for both teams in multiple innings, including Fullerton loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the 13th, but neither team managed to score.
Sophomore Titan Hank LoForte doubled with one out in the 14th, and advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring the series-clinching run on another wild pitch from UCI freshman Andre Pallante.
Pallante was tagged with the loss, despite going 2.1 innings and giving up only one run and striking out five. Junior Louis Raymond threw a career-high 125 pitches in his eight-inning masterpiece, pitching one run ball and striking out a career-high tying seven batters, and senior Calvin Faucher came in to pitch three scoreless innings allowing only one hit and striking out four.
The 16 combined strikeouts tie a single-game high by the ‘Eater program and are the most since the record was set in 2006.
The ‘Eaters actually led the Titans way back in the first inning, as an RBI-single from Coss scored junior Keston Hiura for the first run of the game.
Fullerton tied it 1-1 in the bottom of the first, but a Hiura RBI-single put UCI back on top in the second. A double down the line for the Titans tied the game 2-2 in the fifth and was the last run either team would score, as a combined 30 runners were left on base until the fateful wild pitch in the 14th.
The game marked only the seventh time UCI has played into the 14th inning or later in team history, the third time the five-hour mark was passed and the first time for a match to ever be played past midnight.
Unfortunately for the ‘Eaters, they came out on the losing side again, dropping another conference series and sliding down to the bottom of the Big West standings.
After Sunday’s game against Fullerton, UCI plays at Bakersfield on Tuesday before returning to Anteater Ballpark to host CSUN next weekend.