STILLWATER, Okla. --- UC Irvine generated seven runs in the middle innings and held off Oklahoma State, 8-4, in the first game of the Stillwater Super Regional at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Friday night.
Sophomore left-hander Elliot Surrey pitched seven superb innings in improving to 8-4 on the season, junior third baseman Taylor Sparks had four hits and UCI moved to 39-23 by winning the opening game of the best-of-three series.
"Elliot was really good," said head coach Mike Gillespie. "It always starts with that guy and we presume that we catch up behind them. That's not always the case for everybody but if you catch and play defense that's always a good formula. We had a lot of breaks and breaks are all right. Luck works. It's a super regional so any win is critical."
After the Cowboys (48-17) scored an unearned run in the first inning, the Anteaters went to work in the top of the fourth.
Jerry McClanahan singled to left and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Jonathan Munoz. Kris Paulino was hit by a pitch with two outs, McClanahan advanced to third on a wild pitch and Paulino then moved to second on a passed ball.
Adam Alcantara hit a ball deep behind second base that just reached the outfield grass as McClanahan and Paulino both scored on the infield single to put the 'Eaters up 2-1.
In the fifth, Sparks doubled to right center and Chris Rabago laid down a sacrifice bunt and was safe at first on an error by Oklahoma State pitcher Jon Perrin. Connor Spencer singled to left center, scoring Sparks and moving Rabago to second.
McClanahan's sacrifice bunt advanced Rabago to third and Spencer to second. Rabago and Spencer then each scored on back-to-back wild pitches for a 5-1 UCI lead.
In the sixth inning, Rabago's bases-loaded squeeze bunt scored Paulino, who had led off the inning with a single. McClanahan then drew a bases-loaded walk, scoring Justin Castro, who had walked earlier in the inning, to extend the lead to 7-1.
Sparks led off the eighth with a single, his fourth hit of the night. He advanced to third on a one-out single by Spencer and Sparks then scored on a double steal executed with Spencer for an 8-1 margin.
Surrey exited after allowing a leadoff single in the eighth and Oklahoma State mounted a comeback off reliever Mitch Merten, capped by a three-run homer by Tanner Krietemeier, his 10th of the season, to close within 8-4.
Junior lefty Evan Manarino entered the game and shut the door with a strikeout and an inning-ending double play.
Manarino closed out the game with two strikeouts and a diving, game-ending catch by Rabago at short off a line drive.
Surrey struck out five, allowed five hits and two unearned runs in seven-plus innings of work. Manarino struck out three in two scoreless and hitless innings of relief to earn his first save of the year.
In addition to Sparks' four hits, Spencer and Paulino added two apiece in UCI's 10-hit attack.
Perrin (8-5) took the loss for Oklahoma State, allowing five runs (three earned) in five innings of work.
Game two of the series is scheduled for Saturday night at 7:00 (PT) on ESPNU and KUCI/88.9 FM.