UCI baseball split their first two matches in San Luis Obispo over the weekend, first picking up a 3-1 victory Friday before the Mustangs came back the following day with a vengeance, bringing down the ‘Eaters, 4-3.
With both teams hitting right on target, collectively connecting on 23 hits by the end of Friday night, the ‘Eaters had to clean out their pitches and lock down the outfield to come away with win one of three to kickoff the series.
Sophomore Andre Pallante gave up a number of hits — one of which allowed the Mustangs to take the first lead of the game — but would go on to clamp down and deliver from the mound for the ‘Eaters, striking out nine Mustangs while leaving eight runners stranded off of a career high 117 throws.
After coming up dry for four innings despite hitting fairly well, UCI broke through in the fifth when a single from Cole Kreuter advanced redshirt sophomore Mikey Filia home from third to tie up the contest, 1-1.
Later, with grad Nick Anderson and redshirt sophomore Konnor Zickefoose on base, senior Parker Coss sized up for a sacrifice bunt to send Anderson to second and Zickefoose to third. Junior Matt Reitano followed up with a sacrifice pot fly to score Zickefoose and hand the ‘Eaters the lead, 2-1.
Starting in the seventh, the bullpen took over for Pallante and helped him secure his eighth win on the year. Most notably, junior Jordan Bocko helped lock up the game, retiring six batters in two innings of action after Filia touched home in the ninth to cap the game off at 3-1.
Cal Poly got off to a fiery start, scoring three of their four points on the night in the opening inning. Their first successful go for home materialized on just the fourth pitch to kick off the game as junior Kyle Marinconz clinked a double up the middle to send McKenna all the way around the diamond to make it 1-0. Marinconz would touch home himself when a fellow Mustang singled one towards left field and the ‘Eaters fumbled around and committed an error. Run number three then came on a grounder to second base.
UCI, however, dug themselves out of their hole beginning with the fourth. Senior Ryan Fitzpatrick doubled one to left field before Anderson was walked. Senior Parker Coss bunted and managed to reach first while allowing Fitzpatrick to sprint to third. With the bases loaded, Filia reached out for a light tap and connected on one that bounced to the third baseman. The hit was enough to send Fitzpatrick home to make it 3-1.
The ‘Eaters owned the fifth, ringing in two runners on two hits to tie the match up rather quickly, 3-3.
Then, Cal Poly senior Elijah Skipps came up to bat in the sixth. Stepping up as the first hitter on the rotation, Skipps planted his foot down and drove one high and gone — a solo homer to right center that went on to cap the night, 4-3.
UCI went on to finish up their series with Cal Poly Sunday for an evening 1 p.m. start. The ‘Eaters have been met with a rocky patch of late, dipping to third in conference standings after Cal State Fullerton snapped a six game win streak with a series sweep last month. UCI bounced back with two quick victories over Oregon but the Ducks prevented a sweep by handing the ‘Eaters a 5-10 loss in their last matchup that week.