UC Irvine Holds Off Cal State Northridge in Big West Opener
April 1, 2011
IRVINE, Calif. --- Brian Hernandez escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the ninth to preserve a 9-6 Anteater win over Cal State Northridge Friday to open Big West Conference action at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark. With the win UCI improves to 16-6 overall (1-0 Big West) while the Matadors fall to 14-12 on the season (0-1 Big West).
Hernandez, who was 2 for 5 at the plate, took over for reliever Jimmy Litchfield in the CSUN ninth. Hernandez registered the first out but then issued back-to-back walks before designated hitter Marty Bowen would eke out an infield single to load the bases. Hernandez battled, striking out Adam Barry before Justin DeMarco hit a come-backer to Hernandez, who recorded his fifth save of the season.
UCI starter Matt Summers pitched 6.1 innings, striking out two while giving up three runs on five hits to improve to 3-2. Summers held the Matadors scoreless through the first four innings but CSUN came up with a single and consecutive walks to load the bases in the fifth for Steven Keller, who hit a two-run single up the middle.
The Anteaters responded, scoring six runs in the bottom of the inning. Jordan Fox sparked the rally with a hit that glanced off the glove of starter Justen Gorski for an infield single. Hernandez slapped a hit to right and Jordan Leyland followed with a one-out single to center, driving in Fox. Sean Madigan tied the game with his second hit of the ninth to score Hernandez from second base before Shaeffer gave UCI the lead with a two-run double down the left-field line. Christian Ramirez continued the inning with a run-scoring triple and Tommy Reyes executed the sacrifice on the squeeze play, giving UCI a 6-2 lead.
Drew Muren cut UCI's lead in half at 6-3 with a hit through the right side to capitalize on Barry's double but Summers struck out Kyle Attl to leave Muren stranded. Summers struck out the first Matador batter in the seventh and walked Ridge Carpenter before handing the ball off to Litchfield.
The Anteaters tacked on a run in the seventh as Shaeffer scored on a wild pitch by reliever Ryan Juarez but the Matadors would not go away as Muren hit a three-run home run in the top of the eighth to close the gap to one at 7-6.
Consecutive errors by CSUN in the bottom of the eighth would prove costly. Fox worked a base on balls to lead off the inning and a fielding error put Anteater runners on first and second for Drew Hillman. Hillman's sacrifice bunt was picked up by Juarez but his errant throw to first allowed Fox to score before Madigan delivered again with a one-out hit to left to plate Hernandez, giving UCI the three-run lead.
Madigan drove in two runs while hitting 3 for 5 with a run scored. Ramirez was perfect at the plate, going 4 for 4 with an RBI while Ronnie Shaeffer drove in a pair of runs on two hits while scoring twice.