Photo by Aasha Sendhil // Staff

The UCI Baseball team (23-17, 9-8) lost game two of a three game series, 4-0, against Big West competitor the Long Beach State Dirtbags (17-24, 7-10) in Long Beach, Calif. at Bohl Diamond at Blaire Field on April 30.  

Innings one through five featured excellent pitching juxtaposed with an almost completely silent offense from both Irvine and Long Beach. Irvine’s starting right-handed pitcher redshirt senior Michael Frias had an impressive start, successfully shutting down the Dirtbags offensively. Frias recorded three strikeouts with only one walk allowed, zero runs scored and a plethora of timely groundouts and flyouts. The Long Beach offense remained stumped.

Irvine’s defense was airtight through five innings behind Frias as well. Graduate student shortstop Taishi Nakawake was able to flash some leather with a couple of beautiful on-the-run, off-balance plays, and it proved why he was named the 2021 Big West tri-Defensive Player of the Year. 

UCI’s outfield, not to be outdone by their shortstop, also had a few impressive plays themselves; this included an inning-ending, leaping catch against the right center fence from UCI sophomore center fielder Caden Kendle in the second. Sophomore catcher Abraham “Bam” Garcia-Pacheco also joined in on the defensive show Irvine was putting on for Long Beach’s home crowd when he threw out LBSU redshirt freshman left fielder Rocco Peppi, who was attempting to steal second in the bottom of the first inning.

The score was still tied 1-1 through the sixth inning, but Kendle was able to hit a lead-off double to start the seventh. Nakawake followed Kendle with an RBI into right field, putting the ‘Eaters in the lead with a score of 2-1.

With a scoring drought for both teams in the innings that followed, Garcia-Pacheco hit a single into left field at the top of the ninth. At the bottom of the ninth, Dirtbag junior right fielder Chase Luttrell also hit a single into left field, making it the first hit for Long Beach since the third inning.

The game ended with a score of 2-1 and a win for UCI — the first win after three consecutive games for the ‘Eaters against Long Beach State. 

Kira Dort is a Sports Intern for the spring 2022 quarter. She can be reached at kdort@uci.edu.

Leila Amiri is a Sports Intern for the spring 2022 quarter. She can be reached at amiril@uci.edu.