IRVINE, Calif. --- UC Irvine's offense emerged as the Anteaters edged Washington 8-7 Saturday to force the rubber game at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark.
Freshman Connor Spencer and sophomore Dillon Moyer provided the heroics in the seventh inning for the Anteaters, breaking a 4-4 tie. Spencer, who sang the national anthem to cap off a ceremony honoring the 2002 Anteater squad, hit a booming, bases-clearing triple to give UCI a 7-4 lead. Moyer, a defensive replacement in the top of the seventh, smacked a two-out double to right in his first at-bat of the day to drive in Spencer for the 8-4 edge.
Moyer's RBI would prove to be the insurance run as Washington rallied with one out in the eighth, getting a three-run home run from Trevor Mitsui to close the gap to 8-7. However, reliever Phillip Ferragamo responded by striking out Ty Afenir and induced a grounder to D.J. Crumlich to end the inning.
After being shut out in the series opener, the Anteaters jumped on the board in the third with a pair of runs to score first for the first time in five games. Crumlich doubled to lead off the inning and took third base on a balk by starter George Asmus before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Christian Ramirez. Jordan Fox followed with a triple to right-centerfield and gave the team a 2-0 lead on Tommy Reyes' fly-ball to right.
The Huskies' Caleb Brown homered to left for two runs batted in and Robert Pehl doubled in Branden Berry to erase UCI's 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Washington extended the lead to 4-2 in the next inning as Brown struck again with a two-out hit to drive in Jayce Ray.
The Anteaters punched back by loading the bases in the fifth on a walk, a single and an error and would push across a run on a groundball to short. In the sixth, Scott Gottschling reached first on a fielder's choice and stole second to set the scene for Ryan Cooper, who delivered a two-out, pinch-hit single up the middle, knotting the score at 4-4.
Starter Andrew Thurman faced the minimum through the first three innings before giving up three runs in the fourth. Thurman struck out six in 4.2 innings and allowed four runs on five hits. Jimmy Litchfield held the Huskies scoreless in 1.1 innings and Nick Hoover earned the win after pitching a scoreless seventh inning.
Asmus allowed three runs on three hits in four innings in the start for Washington. Mac Acker fell to 1-1 after giving up the game-winning runs in the Anteater seventh.
The series concludes Sunday at 1:00 p.m.