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Thursday

Game one of the final road series for the Anteaters went off without a hitch, as the Anteaters defeated the UC Davis Aggies 5-3 Thursday afternoon in Dobbins Stadium.

The Anteaters faced trouble early, as the Aggies brought two runs home in the first inning.

Sophomore Andre Pallante, UCI’s starting pitcher, wasn’t perturbed by the two runs. Following the early Davis lead, he silenced the Aggies till the fourth inning.

In the fourth, the Anteaters’ bats revived, as a double from redshirt sophomore Konnor Zickefoose brought home freshman Brenden Brooks. Later in the inning, a sacrifice fly from senior Ryan Fitzpatrick brought Zickefoose home and tied the score.

Though Davis retook a 3-2 lead off a Brad Pluschkell RBI single in the fourth, the ‘Eaters were on their way at the plate.

With Brooks and Zickefoose in scoring position in the sixth, a Fitzpatrick single tied the score at 3. The following batter, senior Parker Cross, lined a single to give UCI their first lead of the night at 4-3.

Senior Cole Kreuter’s eighth inning RBI single gave the Anteaters insurance for junior pitcher Jordan Bocko to stick his eighth save of the season.

Pallante, who earned his tenth win of the season (10-1), allowed three runs on three hits and five walks, along with striking out five Aggies. Pallante’s 1.60 ERA is still the best in the Big West, but it looks like he’ll finish just short of the UCI school record for season ERA. Pallante’s 115 strikeouts is the fifth highest season total by an Anteater, and he’s only the 17th Anteater pitcher to post a 10-win season.

 

Friday

The Anteater’s 4-1 loss Friday afternoon may have ended UCI’s postseason hopes.

Though redshirt sophomore Mikey Filia sparked the Anteaters early with a single, stolen base and run scored in the first inning, his efforts would prove the most UCI could muster on Friday night.

After the Aggies tied the score at 1 in the bottom of the first, the Aggies pitcher Jared Sasaki dominated from the mound. Sasaki would throw eight innings, allowing one run on seven hits with three strikeouts.

The loss appears to be damning for UCI’s postseason hopes, as the Anteaters fall further behind the second place men from Cal Poly SLO. UCI’s 13-10 conference record won’t cut it, as the Cal Poly Mustangs have been on a seven-game win streak.

Barring some profound force of physics that’d allow the Anteaters to get three wins in one game, it looks like the Big West rankings will be as follows: No. 1 Fullerton, No. 2 Cal Poly SLO, No. 3 UCI, No. 3 CSUN.

Saturday

UCI fell with a 4-2 loss in the season finale to the UC Davis Aggies Saturday at Dobbins Stadium.

Similar to Friday’s game, UCI took an early lead, this time off a Kreuter homerun in the second inning.

But the Aggies pulled ahead with a fourth inning, two-run home run by Ryan Hopper to gain a 2-1 lead over the Anteaters. The Aggies gained a further lead in the fifth, after a Tanner Murray RBI single extended the lead to 3-1.

The Anteaters trouble on the mound continued Saturday afternoon, as junior Taylor Rashi gave up three runs off six hits in under five innings of work. Rashi would finish the game with a loss and a 3-4 record on the season. Rashie’s replacement, grad Nick Anderson, threw a little over two innings and allowed one earned run without surrendering a hit. In 2018, sporadic pitching has been the achilles heel of the ‘Eaters, and has led to a combined 7-12 record by UCI’s second two starters, Rashi and freshman Trenton Denholm.

UCI finishes the 2018 season with a 32-24 record, well above .500, but with a 13-11 league record that’s well short of Cal Poly SLO (15-9) and CSU Fullerton (18-6). It appears that Fullerton will get an automatic bid to the college baseball playoff, and SLO will likely receive an at large bid. The two Big West contenders will face brutal competition on their way to the College World Series, but have proved they can compete with the best of the nation in years past. Fullerton last won a world series in 2004, and also recorded a victory in 1995.

Head coach Mike “Skip” Gillespie will head into retirement having finished his immaculate 31-year coaching career with one college world series victory, and 1,156 career wins. Skip, as Gillespie is known, has also been honored with the 2014 Coach of the Year award by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and is one of two players to win a College World Series as a coach and player. Under his guidance, UCI reached the tournament 19 times, and has won five regional titles.

Though it has been a tough year for Anteater sports, missing Skip may be the toughest loss of 2018. Skip has said he will remain close to the team but looks forward to finding a life outside of baseball.

“That golf deal can’t be as hard as I make it,” Skip joked. “Other people learned to fish, why can’t I?”

Coach Gillespie’s number 19 has been retired in right field of Cicerone, and is only the second UCI number to be retired.

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