CORVALLIS, Ore. --- UC Irvine exploded for five runs in the fifth inning and went on to defeat UNLV, 10-3, in the opening game of the NCAA Corvallis Regional at Goss Stadium Friday afternoon.
"It's win number one in a regional, so we're fired up to get that win," said head coach Mike Gillespie. "It was a combination, as everyone in this room saw, of some big hits and a lot of opportunities. All coaches and all teams take the pledge to just give people three outs per inning, and there were a few free-bees this game, and we were able to capitalize on a few of them."
The third-seeded Anteaters (36-22) broke a 2-2 tie with their outburst in the fifth.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Chris Rabago was hit by a pitch to bring home Adam Alcantara from third, giving UCI the lead for good at 3-2.
Connor Spencer then delivered a double down the left-field line, scoring Evan Cassolato and Taylor Sparks.
Jerry McClanahan drove in two more runs with a single up the middle to bring in Rabago and Spencer for a 7-2 margin.
UCI added to its lead in the sixth as Kris Paulino led off with a triple to right center and scored on a one-out squeeze by Cassolato to extend the margin to 8-2.
After a UNLV run in the bottom of the sixth, Cassolato drove a two-out single to left in the eighth inning to bring home Paulino, who had been hit by a pitch earlier in the inning, for a 9-3 UCI lead.
The 'Eaters tacked on another run in the top half of the ninth as Sparks tripled to left center and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Spencer.
Second-seeded UNLV (35-24), the Mountain West Conference regular season co-champion, opened the scoring in the bottom of the second on a two-run home run by Patrick Armstrong.
UCI struck back with two runs of its own in the top of the third as Paulino scored on an error and Cassolato came across on a groundout by Rabago.
Spencer drove in three runs for UCI and has 44 on the season while Rabago, McClanahan and Cassolato each had two RBI. Sparks had three hits and scored twice while Paulino scored three times.
UCI senior right-hander Andrew Morales, the 2014 Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year, struck out four in seven innings of work to improve to 10-2 on the season.
Mitch Merten pitched a scoreless eighth inning, as did Matt Fielding in the ninth.
John Richy took the loss for UNLV, falling to 11-4 for the year.
The 'Eaters take on national No. 1 seed Oregon State Saturday at 8:00 p.m. (ESPNU and KUCI/88.9 FM).