The UCI Baseball team (17-9, 11-2) faced off and won against the UC San Diego Tritons (7-14, 4-5), 4-0, at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark on April 9. This was the first game that UCI allowed a limited capacity of dedicated fans and families to watch live at the ballpark.
The Anteaters looked to stay at the top of the Big West Conference standings as they faced off against UCSD, who wanted to avoid a three-game losing streak. In what started as a slow-starting game, both teams were scoreless through five innings before the Anteaters got on the board.
UCSD senior starting pitcher Cameron Leonard (2-3) and UCI junior starting pitcher Trenton Delholm (3-1) dueled and dominated on the mound.
In 6.2 innings, Leonard allowed three runs, made seven hits and had four strikeouts in a 105 pitch outing. Leonard’s nearly flawless first five innings gave the Tritons the chance in this game.
However, Denholm was just as good for the Anteaters and kept the Triton bats quiet. The right-hander only gave up four hits, no runs and had nine strikeouts in a greater than seven-inning 104 pitch day. He reached his 200 career strikeout mark in the fifth inning.
Once the sixth inning started, Leonard seemed to run out of gas as he allowed both freshman third baseman Connor McGuire and redshirt freshman right-fielder Nathan Church to reach base on a single and a double. With two runners in scoring position, junior center fielder Mike Peabody hit an infield single to drive in McGuire for the first run. Freshman left fielder Luke Spillane hit into a double play, but Church was able to score. This gave UCI a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Leonard gave up a one-out single to freshman second baseman Woody Hadeen. In the next at-bat, junior shortstop Taishi Nakawake singled through the left side and Hadeen advanced from first base to third base on the hit-and-run play. On the first pitch of the next at-bat, McGuire squared around and laid down a perfectly placed squeeze bunt back to Leonard. With Hadeen speeding down the third base line, Leonard’s only option was to get McGuire out at the first base. This led Hadeen to score and Nakawake to cruise into second base. The Anteaters used some small ball to go up 3-0.
Delholm was replaced early in the top of the eighth inning by freshman pitcher Jacob King. King was able to retire the first three batters he faced, ending the inning by stranding a Triton runner at third base.
The Anteaters added one more insurance run in the bottom half of the eighth inning. Peabody led off the inning with a walk. He advanced to third base on another hit-and-run play with Spillane hitting a single. Junior designated hitter Jacob Castro hit into a double play, but Peabody was able to score, 4-0.
King earned his second save and completed the Anteaters’ third shutout with a three-up and three-down at the top of the ninth inning.
Despite the slow offensive start to the game, the Anteaters made most of their chances with runners in scoring positions with the small ball. Church continued his 15 game hit streak, going one-for-four and scoring a run. Castro was the only Anteater to have a multi-hit game with two doubles.
UCI is still undefeated at home with an impressive 9-0 start after their win. The Anteaters continued their dominance against UCSD in a doubleheader at the Anteater Ballpark on April 10.
Marcos Gonzalez is a Sports Intern for the spring 2021 quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.