Photo Provided by UCI Athletics

The Anteaters (35-16, 27-8) defeated the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (20-18,17-14), 7-4, to conclude their four-game series at Hardt Field on Sunday, May 23.

Coming off of a doubleheader on Saturday, May 22, the Anteaters were playing with a series win on the line while looking to be the third team to split a series against UCI.

UCI wasted no time loading the bases in the first inning with a single by junior center fielder Mike Peabody and a walk from junior second baseman Justin Torres after getting hit by a pitch from CSUB’s junior right-hand pitcher Roman Angelo. Irvine’s freshman catcher Thomas McCaffrey followed up with a single down the middle resulting in Torres advancing to second and Peabody making it to home, putting UCI up 1-0. 

However, CSUB was quick to respond with a homer from redshirt senior first baseman Tyler Jorgensen, bringing redshirt sophomore central fielder Jacen Roberson and senior second baseman Evan Berkey around the bases after a pair of singles to take the lead, 3-1. This made it Jorgenson’s fourth long ball of the season and the 22nd long ball of the season for the Roadrunners. The ‘Eater’s junior right-hand pitcher Peter Van Loon struck out and ended the first inning.

The two teams were evenly matched in the second inning. UCI wrapped up the top of the second with zero runs, one hit by junior shortstop Taishi Nakawake, zero errors and one left on base with Angelo pitching. CSUB closed the bottom of the inning with zero runs, zero hits and zero errors with two strikeouts from Van Loon.

Angelo opened up the third inning with his first strikeout of the game, looking for his 99th career strikeout. However, UCI regained their momentum with a double to left field by Torres, bringing junior first baseman Jacob Castro home from third base. McCaffrey enabled Torres to score with a single to right-center that tied the game, 3-3. They were not finished, as shortly after junior designated hitter Dillon Tatum’s hit his 13th home run of the season, a team-high, leading Irvine to take the lead 5-3. UCI finished the top of the third with four runs, three hits, one error and one left on base, with the Roadrunners unable to take the lead.

Throughout the third to the sixth inning, both teams’ intense defenses prevented each other from scoring. The silence was broken entering the seventh inning as McCaffery and freshman third baseman Connor McGuire singled to outfield allowing their runs to increase by three. Following in the eighth, the Roadrunners watched as Anteater senior first baseman Adrian Damla hit two singles, making the score 7-3. 

In the bottom of the eighth, Berkey finally scored for the Roadrunners. Unfortunately with only one inning left, Bakersfield was not able to perform the necessary hits to lead against the Anteaters. The final score ended in 7-4, with another win for UCI. 

UCI head coach Ben Orloff spoke on the team balance and how each individual player contributed to the victory. 

“It’s so fun to see how many guys are contributing. We don’t have Palmer today but still — McCaffrey gets three hits, Tatum hits a home run, Damla comes off the bench to play defense and gets a 2-out double, McGuire and Torres with 2-out RBI hits, so it’s really fun that everyone’s contributing, and to score seven from a bunch of different guys was good to see,” Orloff said. 

Coach Orloff commented on his team’s future against Cal State Fullerton next week, and how they should approach the upcoming games. 

“We’re just trying to get better, we’re trying to improve. I’m sure the team is aware of what’s at stake because of the internet, but we want to play for a while and beyond next weekend, and to do what we want to do, we’ve got to keep getting better,” Orloff said. “We’re trying our best not to scoreboard watch, we’re trying to worry about ourselves, get better, and put together a really good weekend performance against Cal State Fullerton. We’re not worried about who beats who.”

The UC Irvine Anteaters will take on Fullerton next weekend, home at the Cicerone Field at the Anteater Park 3 p.m. on Friday, May 28.

Malia Nazario is a Staff Writer. She can be reached at mnazario@uci.edu.

Harleen Thandi is a Staff Writer. She can be reached at hthandi@uci.edu.