The UC Irvine Baseball team (21-14) dropped the series opener against the Kansas State Wildcats (20-17) by a final score of 13-8 on Friday, April 22 at the Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas.
The ‘Eaters struck early against the Wildcats starter, junior right-handed pitcher Blake Adams, as freshman designated hitter Myles Smith was able to drive in freshman third baseman Dub Gleed with a two out RBI double. The Wildcats answered right back with senior infielder Jeff Heinrich’s solo home run, tying the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning.
The ‘Eaters would go on to tack on three more runs in the fourth inning courtesy of Gleed’s two-run shot over the left field fence, and a two outfielder’s choice leading to sophomore catcher Thomas McCaffrey crossing home plate as Kansas State freshman third baseman Kaelen Culpepper failed to throw out UCI redshirt senior first baseman Ben Fitzgerald at first. By the end of the fourth inning, UCI rallied to take a 4-1 lead.
The next UCI run came an inning later, when redshirt sophomore center fielder Nathan Church beat out a slow chopper that he tapped to Kansas state senior second baseman Josh Nicoloff, giving the ‘Eaters a leadoff runner. McCaffrey would later drive Church in with a two out base hit sneaking past the left side of the Kansas State defense, which brought the score to 5-1 in favor of the ‘Eaters.
UCI’s starting pitcher, redshirt sophomore Nick Pinto had a very successful outing, holding Kansas State to only one run over almost six complete innings, with nine strikeouts. Everything seemed to be going in the ‘Eater’s favor until Pinto was taken out of the game with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, where submarine reliever, graduate student Gordon Ingebritson, gave up an RBI double to the first batter he faced. However, luckily for the ‘Eaters, Ingebritson survived the rest of the inning with no further damage done, leaving UCI in the lead after six, 5-2.
After going down one, two, three in the top of the seventh, the ‘Eaters took the field for the bottom of the inning. Ingebritson stayed in the game to start the seventh, giving up a game tying three-run home run to sophomore left fielder Dominic Johnson. UCI would go on to bring in three more relief pitchers who collectively gave up another eight runs following Igenbritson, bringing the score to 13-5 in favor of Kansas State by the end of a miserable seventh inning.
Despite the UCI offense recording two more home runs in the ninth via redshirt junior left fielder Justin Torres and McCaffrey, the ‘Eaters were ultimately unable to recover from their 11-run deficit, with the final score ending in favor of the home team 13-8.
UCI once again started this game strong, featuring timely hitting and nearly lights out starting pitching, but continued to struggle in the bullpen. After concluding the series against Kansas State on Saturday and Sunday, the ‘Eaters will face UCLA in a non-conference battle with the Bruins on Tuesday, April 29 at 6 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Los Angeles, CA.
Kira Dort is a Sports Intern for the spring 2022 quarter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.