In an evenly matched opening bout, the Oregon State Beavers (26-10,10-5) defeated the UC Irvine Anteaters (22-12, 16-4), 7-5, at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark on Friday, April 23. While this win bumped the Beavers to a five-win game streak, this match put an end to the Anteaters’ two-game streak in dramatic fashion.
After a slow, scoreless first two innings, UCI took the first lead in the bottom third as junior designated hitter Jake Palmer scored after junior first baseman Jacob Castro made a crucial connection with the ball.
However, UCI could not celebrate early as the Beavers tied it all up at one each in the next inning. Redshirt junior left-fielder Joe Casey unintentionally sacrificed himself so junior second baseman Ryan Ober could score after a loaded base.
Ober, who led the Beavers in runs (34) and in RBI’s (31), was a nightmare for UCI, pitching with six at-bats, two runs, two hits, an RBI and a home run.
The bottom of the fourth inning was a turning point for UCI when starting redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Kevin Abel, who only played three innings, was replaced by sophomore right-handed pitcher Brock Townsend. Townsend had a reputation of not having any walk-offs this season; this eventually came to an end with his first pitch of the game to freshman third baseman Connor McGuire.
McGuire scored a smash hit by redshirt freshman right fielder Nathan Church, making sure to continue to ruin Townsend’s day. The ball hit the wall and McGuire ran to make it a 2-1 lead. Scoring continued as junior center fielder Mike Peabody took a low base hit that led Church to a 3-1 lead.
The sixth inning proved to be a great team play as junior shortstop Taishi Nakawake, McGuire and freshman second baseman Woody Hadeen went on a bunting power trip. Nakawake started off with a short bunt that allowed him to run to first base despite tripping on his own two feet after landing on that base. McGuire then decided to sacrifice himself with a bunt, which let Nakawake run to second. Finally, Hadeen made sure Nakawake could score with the suicide squeeze bunt. The game was 4-1, UCI leading.
The seventh inning continued to showcase UCI junior right-handed pitcher Trenton Denholm’s incredible performance as he improved his record to 212 strike outs and 245 innings pitched. However, sophomore designated hitter Wade Meckler managed to sneak in a big hit that led to a run by senior shortstop Andy Armstrong. This made the game 2-4 with UCI leading.
The eighth inning marked a comeback for the Beavers after Denholm was replaced by various other pitchers. UCI had a total of five pitchers throughout the game while Oregon had a total of seven. It was Ober who immediately made an impact with a big home run once the pitching change occurred. This allowed the Beavers to get closer as the score changed to 3-4.
The ninth inning seemed to be the end for UCI as sophomore right fielder/first baseman Jacob Melton nailed a two-run home run, which led to a 5-4 advantage for the Beavers.
The bottom of the ninth inning was Church’s time to shine. He secured a big base hit that eventually landed his team to a five to five tie. However, Church couldn’t have done it without freshman left fielder Luke Spillane, who stole two bases in today’s game and earned his 29th RBI.
The ninth inning ended dramatically as Nakawake hit the ball and ran for first. Spillane ran for victory only for it to be spoiled by Armstrong, who backhanded the ball to first base, striking out Nakawake.
In the 11th inning, the game finally concluded after both Casey and Armstrong scored to make it a 7-5 Oregon lead. It was all up to junior pinch hitter Justin Torres, who replaced Nakawake to take the final bat of the night and ended the winning streak of the Anteaters.
UCI got the win back from the Beavers in the second match of this three game series, 11-9. Both teams faced off in the rubber match at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark on Sunday, April 25. The Anteaters walked it off in the bottom of twelfth inning, 7-6.
Marcos Gonzalez is a Sports Intern for the spring 2021 quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org