By Leanne Michelle Yuen
UC Irvine’s baseball team (28-11, 10-5) played four games against cross-county Big West Conference rivals Cal State Fullerton earlier this week. The first three games took place over the weekend at Fullerton’s Goodwin Field and counted as a Big West Conference series, while the fourth game was on Tuesday at Anteater Ballpark and was a non-conference game. The Anteaters won the first two games, but lost the final two.
The Anteaters started both the series and the game out strong, scoring four runs before the third inning and ultimately winning 7-3 over the Titans on Friday night.
Sophomore Mike Peabody kicked off the game with a leadoff double, then made it to third on a wild pitch. Junior Brandon Lewis’ sacrifice groundout allowed Peabody to score, giving the ’Eaters a 1-0 lead for the first inning.
Redshirt junior Griffin Mazur’s leadoff single in the second inning set the ’Eaters up for a three-run rally. Junior John Jensen then walked, and junior Christian Koss’ sacrifice bunt put the two baserunners on scoring position. Freshman Sam Ireland’s sacrifice fly drove in Mazur, putting UCI up 2-0 with two outs. Later in the half-inning, Peabody drew a walk, then Lewis hit a double into right field and scored both Jensen and Peabody, giving the ’Eaters a 4-0 lead.
CSUF got on the board shortly after in the third inning, when Fullerton senior Hank LoForte scored on a sacrifice groundout, then senior Mitchell Berryhill reached home on an RBI single.
UCI extended their lead further in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, Lewis smacked a solo home run to left field. The ’Eaters then started the fifth inning with back-to-back singles by redshirt juniors Konnor Zickefoose and Mikey Filia. This was followed by two consecutive UCI batters getting hit by pitches, the first of which loaded the bases and the second forced Zickefoose home. Koss then hit a sacrifice fly to score Filia for the ’Eaters’ seventh and final run of the night.
A Berryhill RBI double in the ninth gave Fullerton one run closer to the ’Eaters’ lead, but UCI’s closer Taylor Rashi finished the game and maintained the 7-3 final score.
Starter Andre Pallante got the win, his tenth of the season. He is now tied with Colton Eastman of CSUF for most wins in the Big West.
UCI baseball locked up a 7-4 victory against Fullerton on Saturday night to get the series win.
Peabody got hit by a pitch to lead off the first inning, then junior Adrian Damla went yard to give the ’Eaters an early 2-0 lead. UCI extended their dominance in the third inning, which kicked off with Damla drawing a walk. He made it to third after consecutive singles by Zickefoose and Filia, and eventually touched home thanks to a Mazur sacrifice fly. Zickefoose then scored in a similar fashion after Jensen sac-flied, and Filia capped the rally at three runs by scoring on a Koss single.
Things were pretty quiet until the sixth, when Ireland hit a double then scored on Lewis’ RBI single, putting the ’Eaters up 6-0. However, CSUF put up a fight in the seventh inning, scoring two unearned runs when Filia dropped a fly ball and allowed Titan sophomore Brett Borgogno to reach second base. Borgogno later scored on an RBI single, and freshman Jackson Lyon reached home on a sacrifice fly to bring the score to 6-2.
Both teams added more runs in the eighth; UCI added one more when Filia drove in Lewis with an RBI single, and Fullerton’s Kameron Guangorena also singled to drive in two runners.
UCI starter Tanner Brubaker got his fifth win of the season with this victory, while Rashi closed out his eleventh save.
UCI gave up an early lead on Sunday afternoon, but ultimately couldn’t come back and lost 4-3.
The Titans spared no time in doing damage; two RBI doubles put them up three runs in the first inning. Slowly, the ’Eaters attempted to catch up. In the second inning, Jensen hit a solo home run, and in the third, Lewis reached first base on a Fullerton fielding error. Two wild pitches inched him to third, then he scored on a Zickefoose single to narrow the score to 3-2.
The ’Eaters tied up the game 3-3 in the sixth when Zickefoose doubled and then scored on a Mazur groundout, but this tie was short-lived. In the bottom half of that inning, Fullerton junior Daniel Cope ripped a single down the left field line, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, then crossed home on an RBI single to reach the game’s final score, 4-3.
This game was starter Trenton Denholm’s second loss of the season.
The teams met again on Tuesday night at Anteater Ballpark for a non-conference game. The ’Eaters suffered their second loss in a row, with the final score being 10-4.
After a scoreless first two innings, the Titans got on the board first with two runs during the third. UCI responded with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning when Peabody singled, advanced to third on Damla’s single, then reached home thanks to a wide throw by Fullerton infielder Zach Lew.
The score remained 2-1 until the fifth inning, during which Fullerton rallied and scored six runs. They managed two walks and three singles during this time, playing small ball to keep runners crossing home plate. The rally culminated with freshman Jason Brandow’s three-run homer to left-center, turning the Titans’ 5-1 lead into 8-1 with one swing.
The Anteaters kept fighting; in the bottom of the fifth, they scored two runs when sophomore Jacob Castro hit a two RBI double down the right field line. The ’Eaters managed one more run in the sixth, when Zickefoose hit a double to score Lewis. This, however, would be the last of UCI’s runs for the game. The Titans added more damage in the seventh by scoring one run on a Koss throwing error, then a CSUF RBI single in the eighth was the final blow contributing to the 10-4 final score.
UCI starter Dylan Riddle was dealt his first loss of his Big West career. In all, Anteater pitchers gave up sixteen hits in this game, the most so far this season.
The ’Eaters travel to the Hawkeye State for a weekend series against Big Ten Conference team, the University of Iowa.