Sparks Fires Up Offense Wtih Career-High Five RBI; Morales, 'Eaters Blank 'Bows

Taylor Sparks drove in five of UCI's nine runs
Taylor Sparks drove in five of UCI's nine runs

IRVINE, Calif. --- Taylor Sparks used the long ball and Andrew Morales yielded just one hit in seven innings as UC Irvine swept Hawai'i with a 9-0 victory Sunday at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark.

Morales, who climbed to 7-0, pitched a perfect game through six innings before a single off the bat of pinch-hitter Andre Real caught the lip of the grass for a bad-hop single past third baseman Taylor Sparks. The right-hander retired the next three batters in the inning to finish off his seven-inning effort He struck out six in the win and dropped his ERA to 1.81.

Sparks provided plenty of run support, driving in a career-high five RBI and becoming the first Anteater since Mar. 5, 2010 to hit homeruns in back-to-back at-bats. The last Anteater was Jeff Cusick, who homered twice against Saint Mary's at Anteater Ballpark.

The Rainbows looked to be out of the inning in the first. With two outs and a runner on first, Ronnie Shaeffer hit a chopper to third baseman Pi'ikea Kitamura, who elected to get the force at second. However, his error on the throw put runners on first and second for Sparks, who hit a 2-1 fastball over the left-field fence to give the 'Eaters a 3-0 advantage.

Sparks struck again in the third, this time hitting a 2-2 breaking ball to highlight a three-run frame and widen the margin to 6-0.

UH Reliever Lawrence Chew entered in relief in the fourth and faced a bases-loaded situation after a hit batsman and a pair of walks. Shaeffer smacked the first pitch into right-centerfield for a two-run hit as UCI scored three runs in the inning for the nine-run lead.

Jimmy Litchfield took over in the eighth and struck out one while allowing two singles. Kyle Hooper closed out the game, giving up a double in a shutout ninth inning.

Cooper fell to 2-3 after giving up six runs (three earned) on five hits in three innings.

The Anteaters improved to 20-8 overall and 3-3 in the Big West while Hawai'i dropped to 7-21 (3-3).


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