Deja Vu For 'Eaters
LONG BEACH, Calif. --- For the second straight year, UC Irvine lost the series to Long Beach State following no-hit gems by an Anteater pitcher in the opening game of the set. The Anteaters fell 5-4 to the Dirtbags in the rubber game Sunday at Blair Field to drop to 5-7 in the Big West (20-16 overall).
Long Beach took the early lead in the first on an RBI single by Juan Avila but UCI was gifted a run to tie the score in the top of the second. Kris Paulino laced a double to right-field to lead off the frame and Shawn Stuart hit tagged Jeff Stephens with the pitch to put runners on first and second. Stuart then balked to advance the runners and Paulino would score on a wild pitch. Jerry McClanahan, who was 3 for 3 at the plate, gave the 'Eaters a 2-1 lead with a sacrifice fly to right to plate Stephens.
McClanahan sparked an Anteater rally in the fourth with a one-out double and took third on a single through the right side by Taylor Sparks. McClanahan would score on a Dirtbag error by Josh Guerra and Jordan Fox knocked a fly-ball to right for the run-scoring sacrifice. UCI was on the verge of taking a 6-1 lead as Connor Spencer belted a two-out, first-pitch offering to the right-center gap but Brennan Metzger made a full-sprint, over-the-shoulder catch to rob Spencer of a double and hold the Anteaters to two runs in the inning.
As they did yesterday, the Dirtbags chipped at the lead, tacking on a run in the fourth on a sacrifice by Jeff Yamaguchi. LBSU then took the 5-4 lead in the fifth. Matt Duffy worked a one-out walk and Slaught then hit Ino Patron with the pitch before giving up a single to Avila. Slaught was lifted for Evan Brock, who gave up a two-run double to Metzger before the right-hander struck out Johnny Bekakis to end the inning.
Mitch Merten started the LBSU sixth and got himself into a bases-loaded jam on a hit batsman, a walk and a single but with two outs, the redshirt sophomore knocked down a line-drive by Ino Patron with his glove and recovered in time to get out of the inning. In the seventh, Merten gave up a one-out double to Metzger, who then took third on the wild pitch. After securing the second out, Merten faced Yamaguchi, who lined a 3-2 pitch at the redshirt sophomore, who took the shot off his hip but jumped on the ball and flipped it to Fox in time for the out.
UCI's best opportunity to tie the game would come in the sixth. McClanahan led off with a single but Sparks was unable to execute on the sacrifice bunt to advance the catcher. D.J. Crumlich was hit in the back by Stuart to put a runner in scoring position with one out but the right-hander retired Christian Ramirez and Fox to end the inning.
Crosby Slaught struck out a season-high six batters and walked just one but gave up five runs on five hits to fall to 4-4 after a 4.2 inning stint. Merten scattered three hits in three shutout innings. McClanahan led the offense with three hits while Crumlich and Sparks added two.