The UCI Men’s Baseball team bounced back from their 1-9 loss against the University of San Diego with a 10-1 blowout against the Rice University Owls on Friday, Feb. 21 at Cicerone Field.
The first two innings of the game were slow and scoreless. Both teams got runners on base but failed to make any big plays to send runners home. The Anteaters ended this with a 3-0 scoring run to close out the third inning.
“It felt like no one was trying to do too much, everyone just stayed within their at bat,” said UCI junior outfielder Jake Palmer.
Palmer sent a mid-high ball to center field that brought UCI junior infielder Taishi Nakawake in for their first score of the game. A right field grounder from UCI junior Riley Kasper had Palmer bolting from first and sliding into home plate for their second run of the inning. The rally did not end there as UCI senior infielder Adrian Dalma hit a high flyer into center field, allowing Kasper to score. This put the Anteaters up 3-0 to end the third inning.
Both teams had a scoreless fourth inning, but it was back to business at the top of the fifth inning. UCI junior pitcher Trenton Denholm threw his fifth strikeout of the night and went on to finish the game with a total of six strikeouts and no hits allowed through the seven innings he pitched.
UCI junior outfielder Mike Peabody was the first to get on base in the bottom of the fifth inning. He then went on to steal second and shortly after was sent home by a high line drive to third base by UCI redshirt senior catcher Griffin Mazur, putting the Anteaters up 4-0.
The Owls remained scoreless after their at bat at the top of the sixth inning. The Anteaters had quite the opposite, going on a four run scoring frenzy.
Palmer was the first hitter to get on base after hitting a double into right-center field. UCI redshirt freshman Nathan Church survived a 3-2 count at bat and hit a grounder to right field that brought in Palmer for their fifth run of the night.
Rice huddled to make adjustments before pitching to the next hitter, but the UCI domination continued once Dalma singled to center field, allowing Kasper to sprint to home plate for their sixth run. Then, Peabody launched a bomb out of the park into left field, marking his first home-run with UCI and the second of his career. This gave UCI an even greater advantage with a score of 8-0 to end the sixth inning.
“I was just watching it and I was hoping it was staying fair as it was hooking left, then it went out and I was fired up,” said Peabody when reflecting on what was going through his mind during his inaugural home run as a member of the Anteaters.
The Anteaters scored their last two runs in the seventh inning with two big hits from Nakawake and Palmer that respectively led to UCI senior outfielder John Jensen and freshman infielder Connor McGuire scoring. The Owls did not leave the game scoreless though, as they ended with one run by Rice sophomore infielder/outfielder Justin Dunlap after the catcher bobbled the ball.
The Anteaters hope to continue this successful display of offense in game two of their three game series against the Owls on Feb. 22 at Cicerone Field.
Stefan Curtis Jones is a Staff Writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.