WACO, Tex. --- After mounting a convincing win against Lamar in the first game of a double-header, UC Irvine came up short in a 4-2 loss to No. 25 Baylor Friday night at Baylor Ballpark.
Bear starter Josh Turley silenced UCI's offense for seven innings, holding the Anteaters to a run on four hits while striking out six en route to his first win of the year.
The Anteaters struggled in the first two innings. Consecutive hits to kick start each inning were followed by Anteater errors and UCI quickly found itself trailing 4-0. In the first, Nathan Orf singled off starter Matt Whitehouse and a passed ball put the outfielder in scoring position for Cal Towey, who doubled inside the third-base bag to plate Orf. On the ensuing play, a throw to first on a groundball sailed past Jordan Fox for a two-base error, allowing Towey to score and give Baylor a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second, a fly ball to right was lost in the lights and at the end of the play Jake Miller stood on second with a leadoff double. Lawton Langford's sacrifice bunt attempt was a good one and went for a single but the throw to first was off line, allowing Miller to score and Langford to take second on the miscue. Langford would eventually score on a sacrifice fly.
Offensively for the Anteaters, the clutch hit proved to be elusive. UCI put runners in scoring position in the first and third innings with two outs but Turley worked himself out of trouble, first with a fly ball out and then a strikeout.
UCI created an opportunity in the eighth as Jeff Stephens led off with a hard single to right-centerfield. D.J. Crumlich and Tommy Reyes both worked back-to-back walks to load the bases, prompting the Bears to go to the bullpen for closer Dillon Newman. Fox's sacrifice fly to center pushed across Stephens but Newman induced a grounder to first and then posted a strikeout to end the threat.
The Anteaters clawed at the lead again in the ninth as Kris Paulino and Stephens came up with a pair of two-out singles. Crumlich extended the inning with a single to left, allowing Paulino to score but Newman's 2-2 pitch on Tommy Reyes was called for a third strike, giving Newman his second save.
Matt Whitehouse suffered his second loss in as many starts, giving up four runs (two earned) on six hits while striking out five in five innings. Nick Hoover, Mark Trentacosta and Evan Brock combined for three shutout innings. Jeff Stephens and Christian Ramirez led UCI with two hits apiece.
UCI takes on Baylor Saturday at 4:00 p.m. (PT) in continuing QTI Baylor Invitational action.