UCI’s baseball team returned home Tuesday February 27 to face the SDSU Aztecs at Anteater Ballpark, before heading to Fort Worth Texas to play TCU. The ‘Eaters went into the game against SDSU with a 5-2 record, having just gone 2-1 in a best of three against Gonzaga, the weekend before.
The ‘Eaters triumphed over the Aztecs 9-5, taking a quick and decisive 4-1 lead in the 1st inning. SDSU Pitcher Ray Lambert walked the first three batters he faced, and hit another UCI batter to give the ‘Eaters their first point as Jake Palmer was walked home. It was then a sacrifice fly by Freshman Jacob Castro that allowed Brooks to score. Senior Ryan Fitzpatrick would hit a double down the left field line, allowing Sophomore Konnor Zickefoose and Nick Anderson to score, bringing the ‘Eaters to a comfortable 4-1 lead. The Eater’s would ride their lead out to a 9-5 Victory. The ‘Eaters fielding was bolstered by Castro’s 8 PO’s on the night, as well as Senior Pitcher, Alonzo Garcia who had an ERA of 2 over 4 innings, with 5 Strikeouts.
The ‘Eaters then moved on to their third best of three series this season, this time against No. 6 ranked TCU March 2nd through march 4th. UCI went 2-1 in their first two 3 game series, with Gonzaga and Nevada. TCU looking for revenge, as last year UCI put up 11 points to TCU’s 2 when the two teams met, ending a 7 game winning-streak for TCU. The Horned Frogs were then ranked No. 1 in the nation. In their first game against the horned frogs since their handy victory last year, the ‘Eaters were robbed of their 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 9th, falling to TCU in another attempt at a TCU-UCI upset. TCU was first to score, when with the Sophomore Pitcher Andre Pallante walked a run in, but then found is form, striking out the next 3 batters. Pallante had an ERA of 1 over 6 innings pitched. Brooks singled to left field with a Sophomore Adrian Damla in scoring position, to give the ‘Eaters their first point and tie the game 1-1, Palmer would then score on an error by the Horned Frogs, giving UCI the 2-1 to end the 3rd. In the 5th, UCI would also give up an unearned run, tying the game at 2 a piece.
Nick Anderson scored on a single from Fitzpatrick. UCI now up 3-2 could not hold the lead and secure the upset, walking a batter to give TCU a run and tie things up in the 9th. TCU’s A.J. Balta would then blast a ball deep right, giving their runner just enough time to cross home plate, taking the lead back from UCI, and ending their upset aspirations.
The next meeting in the 3 games series again went to TCU, 2-6. UCI however played up to TCU, scoring first on a highly disputed play, that was called off and then again turned over, giving the 1-0 lead. TCU had an explosive 3rd inning, putting up 5 runs, and putting the ‘Eaters in a hole they could not climb out of. 3 of the 5 points coming by way of unearned runs, UCI showing that they can play with the best, but got in their own way, as TCU capitalized on the ‘Eater’s errors. Down 5-1. Senior Parker Coss gave UCI the last laugh, hitting a homer in the 6th, making the score 6-2. Neither team could score anymore runs, TCU took the second game of the series, leaving UCI with one last chance to get a win against TCU.
In their final chance at an upset, UCI took control of the field, putting Freshman Trenton Denholm on the mound in his debut. Denholm kept TCU off the board only allowing 4 hits through the 8th, recording several 123 innings. Taking an early 1-0 lead, found their footing and kept TCU off the board. The highlight of the game was the 4th inning for the ‘Eaters, as they put up 7 runs in the inning. The eater’s exploded offensive, causing a pitching substitution before the inning ended. Brooks on his 5th hit of the weekend brought home 2 runners on a single thanks to a 2 base throwing error.
The last scoring of the inning came immediately after the 2 brought in by Brooks, when Fitzpatrick on the first pitch he faced in his at bat, blasted a single, giving him his 2nd hit of the inning, and bringing Palmer and Brooks home. The ‘Eater’s actionpacked inning was reminiscent of the 8 run outburst that UCI had against TCU last year. Senior Cole Kreuter capped a 6 run inning with a linedrive over the left wall with the bases loaded for a Grand Slam, and a commanding 14-0 lead.
The ‘Eaters went on to win 15-2. UCI sits at 7-5 after the weekend and will play 4 games in Portland, March 9-11.