PROVO, Utah --- UC Irvine scored six runs in two of the first three innings and received a stellar outing from pitcher Andrew Morales as the Anteaters avoided the road sweep with a 8-3 win at BYU Saturday.
Connor Spencer was 3 for 5 at the plate with two RBI and belted his fifth double of the year in the first to drive in Dominique Taylor to give UCI a 1-0 lead. Spencer came around to score on a hit from Ronnie Shaeffer, who also was a key cog in the offense, batting 2 for 4 with three runs batted in.
The Cougars cut into UCI's lead in the second inning, pushing across a run on a sacrifice fly from Kelton Caldwell but the Anteaters struck again in the fourth as Shaeffer blasted a two-out, two-run home run. A throwing error by starter Jeff Barker on a Taylor Sparks bunt extended the inning and Scott Gottschling followed with a single up the middle to put runners on first and second. Mikey Duarte came up clutch with a clean hit to score Sparks. Gottschling, trying to advance an extra base on the play, drew the throw to third but was in safely. Duarte, also looking to put pressure on the Cougar defense, attempted to advance to second on the play at third and third baseman Adam Law's throw was errant and went into right field, allowing Gottschling to score on the error and widen UCI's lead to 6-1.
The scoring continued for UCI in the sixth as Spencer knocked in his second run of the day, driving in Jeff Stephens who singled and stole second. Duarte also posted his second RBI with a sacrifice fly to right in the seventh to capitalize on a leadoff triple by Sparks.
The Cougars mounted a bases-loaded threat in the seventh against Morales, prompting the Anteaters to turn to the bullpen. Junior Evan Brock halted the rally after inducing a pair of fly-ball outs to right, one for run-scoring sacrifice.
Morales improved to 5-0 on the year after dealing 6.1 innings and holding the Cougars to two runs on three hits while striking out one. Brock closed out the game, logging 2.2 innings and giving up a run on three hits.
Barker fell to 2-2 with the loss after giving up six runs on six hits in three innings of work.