HOUSTON, Tex. --- Jordan Fox was 2 for 2 with two RBI and Phillip Ferragamo dealt four shutout innings to lead UC Irvine to a 5-3 win over Alabama State Friday in the Urban Youth Invitational. Originally scheduled to be played at the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy facility, the Anteaters and Hornets played their season opener at Minute Maid Park.
Ferragamo matched a career-high with four innings pitched and retired eight straight batters before giving up a check-swing single to Marcus Swint in the fifth. However, Ferragamo stranded Swint after popping up Darrion Pedro to right field. The 6-8 right-hander then pitched a perfect sixth before giving way to Evan Brock in the seventh to collect the win.
Right-hander Mitch Merten worked UCI out of a ninth-inning jam to earn the save.
Tommy Reyes opened UCI's (1-0) season with a sharp double to left and was driven in by Fox, who slapped a single through the right side. Christian Ramirez, batting second, was hit by the pitch and would eventually score on a sacrifice fly by Ronnie Shaeffer to give the Anteaters a 2-0 lead.
Alabama State trimmed the gap to one in the top of the second as Leo Rojas reached first on a one-out error by D.J. Crumlich. After stealing second, Rojas plated the Hornets' first run on a single to right-center from Manny Rodriguez.
Ramirez gave UCI the two-run lead again in the bottom of the third, tripling to lead off the inning and scoring on Fox's sacrifice fly to right.
Fox, who reached safely in four of five plate appearances, sparked UCI in the fifth with a leadoff single to center and took second after Crumlich was hit by the pitch. Scott Gottschling drove in his first run with a sharp single past a drawn-in third baseman and was followed by Jerry McClanahan, who notched his first collegiate RBI with double to left to drive in Crumlich.
Swint doubled for the Hornets in the eighth inning against Brock and came around to score on a two-out single through the left side by Derrick Sanders. However, Brock ended the threat by picking off Sanders at first to end the inning.
Alabama State rallied again in the ninth, working back-to-back leadoff walks off Race Parmenter. Jimmy Litchfield was called from the bullpen and retired one on a fielder's choice before Alabama State scored a run on a sacrifice fly from Einar Muniz. Pinch-hitter Ryan Epperson extended the inning with a double down the left-field line, putting runners on second and third but Merten picked up for Litchfield and induced a pop-up to Shaeffer behind the plate to end the game.
Gottschling was 1 for 3 with an RBI and McClanahan, making his first collegiate start walked twice and drove in a run on a double.
ASU's Ron Frost fell to 0-1 after giving up three runs on three hits in four innings. Rodriguez and Swint each had two hits for the Hornets.
The Anteaters take on Southern University Saturday at 1:00 p.m. (PT) at Minute Maid Park.