Sparks Strikes Again As 'Eaters Rally To Beat Pacific
IRVINE, Calif. --- After delivering a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth Friday, Taylor Sparks came up clutch again with a bases-loaded, two-run single to drive in the game-tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the eighth as UCI posted a 7-4 victory over Pacific Saturday at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark.
The Anteaters, who were held to one run through seven innings, brought 11 batters to the plate in the eighth. With one out in the inning, Tommy Reyes and Jordan Fox hit clean singles off starter Kyle Crawford. Crawford handed the ball off to reliever Joe Spizzirri, who induced a fly-ball to center for the second out. However, Scott Gottschling extended the inning with the second of his two doubles to drive in Reyes. Spizzirri then walked Christian Ramirez to load the bases and issued a base on balls to Jerry McClanahan to force across Fox, cutting Pacific's lead to 4-3. The Tigers turned to reliever Chris Larsen and Sparks hit a flare to right, scoring Gottschling and Ramirez for a 5-4 UCI lead. Dillon Moyer continued the action, drawing a walk to load the bases a second time and Crumlich punched a two-run single to the left-centerfield gap, staking UCI to a three-run advantage.
That would be all for the Tigers as Race Parmenter faced four batters in a hitless ninth to preserve the win and earn his third save. Sophomore Mitch Merten collected his first win of the year (1-0) after holding Pacific to one hit in three shutout innings while starter Crosby Slaught pitched five innings, giving up four runs on six hits.
The Tigers took a two-run lead in the second on Jason Taasaas' two-run home run and extended the lead to four with a pair of runs in the third.
Crumlich and Sparks combined for four RBI on three hits while Gottschling and Fox each had a run batted in on two hits.
Spizzirri fell to 0-1 after giving up three runs in relief while Crawford pitched 7.1 innings and yielded three runs on seven hits while striking out four. Jason Taasaas paced the Tiger offense, batting 2 for 3 with two RBI.
The series concludes Sunday at 1:00 p.m.