By: Amanda Zarasua
The UCI Men’s Baseball team went face to face against USC in an exhibition game at the Anteater Ballpark on Nov. 16. After nine scheduled innings, the Anteaters were up 8-3.
The Anteaters gave the ball to junior Peter Van Loon to start the game. Despite allowing a runner on first base and another in scoring position at second, Van Loon was able to hold the other team with no runs scored. The end of the first inning started off with a UCI bat flying into USC’s dugout. Besides this error, the Anteaters went three up three down to end the first inning.
To start the second inning, Van Loon responded by tossing a scoreless ball. UCI started to gain momentum during the bottom of the second inning, as redshirt freshman Nathan Church led off with a double to left field. Redshirt sophomore Andre Antone followed up with a consecutive double to left field, but Church was unable to beat the throw home — no runs were scored.
Graduate student Konnor Zickefoose doubled on a long shot to center, bringing Antone home and giving the Anteaters a 1-0 lead. Redshirt senior Griffin Mazur doubled to right field and Zickefoose scored, bringing UCI’s lead up 2-0. Redshirt sophomore Jake Cosgrove doubled to left field, bringing in Mazur. This led UCI to gain five doubles in a row. The Anteaters ended the second inning up 3-0.
UCI ran into some pitching struggles in the top of the fifth, as two consecutive USC singles and a walk loaded the bases. The Anteaters’ lead now cut to 3-1. UCI was unable to respond in the bottom of the fifth inning, and ran into more pitching difficulties at the top of the sixth. Two leadoff walks and a single to right field allowed a run to score and kept runners on first and second base for USC. A sacrifice fly to center field advanced the runners to scoring positions at second and third. A ground ball to shortstop brought a runner home despite an impressive play by Cosgrove. Runners remained on the corners of first and third, but the Trojans left them stranded.The game was now tied 3-3.
Church started off the bottom of the sixth inning with a base hit to right field. Antone was hit by a pitch, bringing runners to first and second. Church stole third and a single brought Church home. UCI eventually left the bases load, but they regained the lead 4-3.
Junior Jake Palmer reached first base with a lead off walk to start the bottom of the seventh inning. A triple by junior Mike Peabody brought Palmer home to score. The Anteaters extended their lead 5-3.
UCI started off the eighth inning strong with senior John Vergara fanning three consecutive Trojan batters for a perfect inning. UCI continued their dominance into the bottom of the eighth inning when junior Jacob Castro put a ground ball up the middle. However, Cosgrove’s fly ball to shortstop was dropped, putting runners in scoring position on first and second. Freshman Connor McGuire laid down a sacrifice bunt and advanced the runners to second and third. Palmer singled to right field and brought both base runners home. The score was brought to 7-3, with the Anteaters leading. Junior Riley Kasper smacked a line drive to right field and brought the runner on second home to score. UCI finished the scrimmage with a score of 8-3, coming out with a win against Pac-12 powerhouse, USC.
UCI’s next game will be their alumni game on Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Anteater Ballpark.