The UCI Baseball team (16-9, 10-2) finished their four-game series with a pair of back-to-back games against the Cal State University, Northridge Matadors (5-7, 5-7) on April 4. The first game ended with another walk-off victory for the Matadors in extra innings. The final game saw the Anteaters rout the Matadors, 20-3, and ended in seven innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
The first game of the doubleheader started with a bang. On the fourth pitch delivered by CSUN junior pitcher Blaine Traxel, UCI redshirt freshman outfielder Nathan Church made a deep home run to the right field. This put the Anteaters ahead early in the game, 1-0. However, the Anteaters were unable to put any more runs on the board after this score.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Matadors got two men on board after a couple of singles off UCI junior pitcher Peter Van Loon. Both were left on base when CSUN redshirt junior infielder/outfielder Jacob Bravo popped out in the infield to end the inning.
The Anteaters picked up another run in the third inning when Church doubled to right center field; two batters later, he was driven home by a single to short left field made by freshman outfielder Luke Spillane. Senior infielder Adrian Damla kept the rally going with a single to left field, advancing Spillane to second. Next, junior catcher Jacob Castro singled to right field, advancing Damla to second and Spillane to third; this loaded the bases. Junior infielder Justin Torres hit a sacrifice fly out for the second out of the inning, but it allowed Spillane to come home from third and give the Anteaters another run. The fireworks were cut short as UCI junior infielder Taishi Nakawake struck out swinging. Heading into the bottom of the third, the Anteaters led 3-0.
The Anteaters increased their lead to 5-0 in the fifth inning when Nakawake drove in an RBI double to left field scoring freshman infielder Woody Hadeen and Castro. However, this is where things started to turn upside down for UCI.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, CSUN freshman infielder Ryan Ball drove in an RBI single, bringing home redshirt senior junior Carlos Arellano. The hot swinging continued as redshirt senior catcher/infielder Jose Ruiz reached first base on a ground ball to Nakawake, who threw out a runner at second. However, Nakawake was unable to stop CSUN senior utility Kai Moody from scoring. The Anteaters lead was now cut down to 5-2.
The scoring continued for Northridge in the sixth and seventh innings as Arellano singled to left field, bringing home redshirt senior outfielder Robert Bullard in the sixth. CSUN Moody hit a sacrifice fly to right field scoring junior outfielder Denzel Clarke, shrinking the UCI lead to 5-4 during the bottom of the seventh.
UCI increased their lead during the top of the eighth inning as junior catcher Dillon Tatum scored on a wild pitch. The Matadors answered back in the bottom of the eighth as junior infielder Bobby Silvis doubled to left field scoring junior catcher Angel Mendoza.
With the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth and two outs, CSUN freshman outfielder Luke Powell singled to center field driving in the tying run. The game then went into extra innings and the score was tied at six.
The Anteaters threatened during the top of the 10th inning; however, they were unable to put any runs on the board. In the bottom of the 10th, CSUN walked it off with a three-run home run by Moody. This sealed the 9-6 comeback victory.
Church led the way for the Anteaters, going four-for-six from the plate with two runs and one RBI. The Matadors were led by Moody, who had three hits, four RBI’s and a walk-off three-run homer in the 10th inning.
The second game of the doubleheader featured a complete reversal. The Anteaters started off hot with a 10-run second inning. The first run scored on a wild pitch and the one-out rally continued with a pair of two-run hits by Church and Spillane. Castro singled to center field, bringing home junior outfielder Mike Peabody. This increased the score to 6-0. Damla grounded out for the second out while Spillane scored. With two outs, Torres singled to shortstop and Castro scored. The score was now 8-0, in favor of the Anteaters. Soon, freshman infielder Connor McGuire singled to left field, bringing home Torres and Tatum. This capped off the Anteaters’ 10-run inning.
The Anteaters added six more runs in the third and never looked back; they won the game in seven innings, 20-3.
“Today was kind of a repeat of yesterday,” UCI head coach Ben Orloff said. “You lose on a walk-off two times and two 10-run rules. It shows the margin between winning and losing in this league is small, and some of these games where it’s about depth on the mound.”
The Anteaters return home to Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark and will host a four-game series against the UC San Diego Tritons starting on April 9, with the first pitch at 3 p.m.
James Huston is a Staff Writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.