The UCI Baseball team folded under the Stanford Cardinals, 4-1, after a long game on March 12, at the Klein Field at Sunken Diamond. This game featured solid defense amongst both teams, yet not quite the offense the Anteaters were hoping for.
Coming to Stanford after a previous win at UC Riverside, the Anteaters came in headstrong, confident and ready to play. With Stanford senior pitcher Brendan Beck at the mound, the battle between the teams began.
Starting in the first inning, both teams made hits but no runs. Irvine had junior pitcher Trenton Denholm start off on the mound. As College Baseball Hall of Fame’s Pitcher of the Year, the Anteaters’ Denholm had Stanford expecting to have their hands full.
By the second inning, Anteater junior infielder Justin Torres and freshman outfielder Caden Kendle both had hits that were ultimately thrown out. Although junior infielder Taishi Nakawake was able to receive a walk, the Anteaters were not able to keep the streak going, leading to no score.
With Stanford batting at the bottom of the second, junior catcher Vincent Martinez was able to hit a home run, allowing the Cardinals to grasp a lead against the Anteaters, 1-0. Throughout the third and at the top of the fourth inning, both teams exemplified key defense to prevent any further advantage or score.
Entering the bottom of the fourth inning, Stanford’s sophomore catcher and infielder Kody Huff made a base hit, but was thrown out after an attempted steal. Despite this, there were two singles made in a row, with Cardinal senior outfielder Christian Robinson getting a walk, leaving two on base. Stanford embodied a crucial offense as senior infielder Nick Brueser hit an RBI and sophomore infielder Brett Barrera finished the job, allowing Stanford to lead by two, 2-0.
Unable to score in the fifth inning, UCI struggled with the necessary hits they needed to catch up to the Cardinals. On the other hand, Stanford infielder Tim Tawa was able to score another run, extending the lead to three against the Anteaters.
Now in the sixth inning, Irvine finally picked up their offense, receiving walks and having two players on base. Despite their efforts, the Anteaters were unable to successfully finish their plays as they obtained three outs before making a run home. Although UCI expressed great defensive strategies, it was no match for Brueser, who hit another home run for the Cardinals.
In efforts to prevent any further leads, UCI defended the field well, where both teams could not score during the seventh inning. Fortunately for the Anteaters, due to freshman outfielder Luke Spillane and an RBI by Nakawake, they were able to score a run during the eighth inning, making the score 4-1. However, the Anteaters could not catch up to the Cardinals after one inning left to score, making it a tough loss for UCI.
UCI head coach Ben Orloff spoke on UCI’s performance during a post-game interview.
“That’s a Friday night game,” Coach Orloff said. “Their guy threw the ball well, you get limited opportunities and if you don’t take advantage of those opportunities, you end up on the short side of 4-1.”
Orloff also commented on the team’s past experience playing against UCLA and how their loss can influence how they handle future tough opponents like Stanford.
“We talked about it after UCLA — if we play well, we can play with and beat anyone in the country,” Orloff said. “This is a good Stanford team, if we play well, I like our chances. We’re excited and glad we’ve got three more opportunities.”
The Anteaters faced the Cardinals again on March 13, with a doubleheader, losing one game, 6-1, while winning the second, 5-1. However, UCI lost their concluding match in their four-game series against the Cardinals, 8-6, on March 14.
The Anteaters played their next series against the UC Davis Aggies from March 19 to March 21 and swept them in four games at Dobbins Stadium.
Malia Nazario is a staff writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.