April 5, 2010

No. 18 UC Irvine Hosts San Diego State, Cal State Fullerton

April 5, 2010

`EATERS HOST AZTECS, TITANS: UC Irvine returns to Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark for a four-game homestand this week as the Anteaters face San Diego State Tuesday (Apr. 6) for a 6:00 p.m. match-up. UCI then resumes Big West action against Cal State Fullerton this Friday through Sunday (Apr. 9-11). Friday's 6:00 p.m. night game will be followed by a 1:00 p.m. Saturday start. First pitch Sunday's game is slated for 2:00 p.m.

UCI ON ESPNU: UC Irvine's Sunday game will be broadcast on ESPNU. The Anteaters are also slated to be televised on ESPNU Sunday, May 9 against Cal Poly.

HERNANDEZ, BIBONA NAMED PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Brian Hernandez (Sylmar/College of the Canyons) was named the Big West Player of the Week and Daniel Bibona (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita HS) earned co-Pitcher of the Week honors.

Hernandez led UC Irvine with eight hits and six RBI as the Anteaters captured three road wins to open conference action. The third baseman hit .615 and posted a 1.000 slugging average to help the team improve to a 7-6 road record. Hernandez doubled twice, homered once and did not strike out in 13 at bats en route to earning his first weekly award.

Thursday, Hernandez tied a personal-high with three hits, sandwiching a single and a run scored with a pair of doubles. His three RBI-game was his second-highest run batted in out-put this season. Friday, the junior went 2 for 4 with a walk and crossed the plate as the go-ahead run. Then with the game tied at 3-3, his solo home run in the sixth would prove to be the eventual game-winning run in UCI's 5-3 victory to clinch the series. In the finale, Hernandez again recorded a multiple-hit game going 3 for 5 with two RBI. Hernandez is hitting .371 and is second on the team with 33 hits. He is also second with eight doubles and third with 20 RBI.

Bibona earns his second honor of the season after striking out a season-high 12 batters in eight innings of work. The lefty faced just one over the minimum through five innings and did not yield a hit until the 6th inning. After giving up consecutive hits to open the seventh, Bibona retired the next six consecutive batters before handing the ball to the Anteater bullpen in the ninth inning. It is the fifth time out of seven starts that he has struck out 10 or more batters in a single outing. Bibona is 2-4 with a 2.54 ERA. He has fanned 60 in 49.2 innings and allowed 14 earned runs while walking 11.

GILLESPIE NEARING 900 CAREER WINS: Head coach Mike Gillespie is three wins away from collecting 900 career wins. In a 23-year coaching career at the Division I level, Gillespie boasts an 897-512-2 mark. His teams have captured six conference championships and he was named the conference Coach of the Year five times. At UC Irvine, he has steered the Anteaters to back-to-back 40-win seasons and led UCI to its first Big West title in 2009.

NECKE PICKS UP A PAIR OF SAVES IN BIG WEST ACTION: Senior Kyle Necke (Walnut/HS) recorded two saves against Cal State Northridge and tops the team and the Big West with five. Friday, Necke entered in relief with two outs in the seventh and retired seven straight to preserve a 5-3 victory. Necke then was called from the bullpen Saturday with UCI leading 7-5. With a runner on first in the CSUN ninth, Necke induced a liner to short that turned into a double-play and then ended the game with a fly-ball to center. Necke has not allowed an earned run in seven appearances and has not given up a hit in 11.1 straight innings. The senior right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.28 ERA and has struck out 27 batters in 24.2 innings. He has walked just three in a team-high 11 appearances.

STEVENSON DRIVES IN A CAREER-HIGH FIVE RUNS: Casey Stevenson (Saugus/College of the Canyons) recorded a career-high five RBI in UCI's Big West opener at Cal State Northridge. Stevenson went 4 for 7 with a triple and a home run and scored four times. Hitting leadoff for just the second time this season, Stevenson belted his second home run of the season to start off the third and then hit a clutch run-scoring single in the fourth. He singled again in the eighth and then delivered a bases-clearing triple in the ninth. Stevenson is hitting .293 with 27 hits and 19 RBI. He tops the team with 29 runs scored and has three doubles, two triples and two home runs for the Anteaters thus far.

BERGMAN, PETTIS EARN WINS: Christian Bergman (Altadena/St. Francis HS) and Eric Pettis (West Hills/El Camino Real HS) gave strong performances on the mound to help the Anteaters capture a series sweep. Bergman rebounded from a 3.2-inning stint at Nevada with six solid innings against the Matadors to help UCI clinch the series win. Bergman struck out seven while yielding three runs on eight hits. The right-hander, who did not issue a free pass, improved to 3-1 and holds a 6.07 ERA. He has struck out 33 in 40 innings and walked just seven.

Pettis fired 7.2 innings, striking out five and allowing five runs (two earned) on eight hits while walking one. Pettis shut out the Matadors through six before CSUN would score a run in the seventh. Pettis is 5-0 with a 3.08 ERA. He has struck out 29 batters in 52.2 innings and allowed 18 earned runs this season.

SHAEFFER RECORDS CAREER-HIGH HITS: Ronnie Shaeffer (Garden Grove/Pacifica HS) had a stellar outing at the plate, hitting .538 in three games. Shaeffer went 2 for 5 in UCI's win Thursday and then drove in an insurance run on a sacrifice fly Friday while batting 1 for 3. He capped the series with a personal-high four hits, including posting his third home run of the season. Shaeffer is hitting .357 with 39 hits and 13 RBI.

CRUMLICH HITS .444 AGAINST MATADORS: D.J. Crumlich (Irvine/HS) put together a .444 average at the plate and was errorless at short for the `Eaters last weekend. The sophomore went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice, an RBI and two runs scored in the series opener. Crumlich then went 2 for 4 Friday and then batted 1 for 3 with a stolen base and a walk in the series finale.

CUSICK HITS TEAM-HIGH FOURTH HOME RUN: Jeff Cusick (Mission Viejo/Santa Margarita HS) smacked his team-leading fourth home run last Thursday and finished the day 2 for 6 with two RBI and two runs scored. Friday the first baseman posted three hits (3 for 5) with a double and then singled Saturday to wrap up the series. Cusick is hitting .376 with a team-high 35 hits, nine doubles and four home runs. He is also the team's RBI leader with 27.

OLSON HAMMERS FIRST HOME RUN: Senior Cory Olson (Anaheim/Orange Coast College) hit his first home run of the season Saturday. The outfielder highlighted a four-run fifth for the team with a two-run shot that gave UCI a 3-0 lead. In three games played, Olson hit 2 for 3 with two RBI and a run scored. He also drew two base on balls and was hit by the pitch twice.

ABOUT SAN DIEGO STATE: The Aztecs are 11-17 overall and have lost seven of their last nine games.

The team is led by Brandon Meredith, who is hitting .330 with 32 hits. Blair Moore is the team's RBI leader with 28 and is hitting .320 with a team-best 33 hits, seven doubles and four home runs.

Slated to start on the mound is Steven Moranda. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 6.08 ERA and has struck out 19 in 23.2 innings. He has allowed just 10 walks and yielded 16 earned runs.

THE SERIES: UCI trails the Aztecs 46-26-1 in the series records. The two teams last met in regional action in 2009 with the Anteaters taking a 14-3 win. UCI has won six straight against SDSU.

ABOUT CAL STATE FULLERTON: Cal State Fullerton is 15-11 overall and 3-0 in the Big West after sweeping UC Davis. The Titans, 6-3 on the road, are hitting .330 as a team. CSF is led by Gary Brown, who is leading the Big West with a .466 average, 54 hits and 19 stolen bases. Nick Ramirez tops the Titans with 29 RBI. As a team, the Titans are second in the conference with a .330 average.

ROTATION: Cal State Fullerton will throw a series of right-handers against the Anteaters this weekend. Scheduled to open the series is Noe Ramirez with Daniel Renken slated to pitch Saturday. Tyler Pill will be handed the ball to close the series Sunday.

Ramirez is 5-1 with a 2.94 ERA. He tops the team with 52 innings pitched and has struck out 60 while allowing just eight walks. Ramirez has given up 17 earned runs and is holding opposing teams to a .222 average. Against UC Davis, Ramirez struck out seven in seven innings while giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits to earn the win.

Renken is 3-2 with a 5.70 ERA. Last week, the right-hander fanned five and did not allow a walk in seven innings. Renken allowed seven runs on 12 hits.

Pill is 1-4 with a 4.91 ERA. He has tossed 40.1 innings, striking out 37 while walking 11. Kyle Mertens made the start for the Titans last Saturday and held UC Davis to two runs on four hits but did not factor in the decision.

THE SERIES: Cal State Fullerton owns a 68-35 series advantage against UCI.

LARSON TWO SHY OF HOME RUN RECORD: Francis Larson (Yorba Linda/St. Francis HS) recorded his 20th career home run last week against Cal State Northridge. The senior catcher hit a three-run shot to put the Anteaters on the board and give the team a 3-1 lead in the fourth. Larson, who has hit in eight straight games, is two round-trippers away from becoming UCI's all-time leader in home runs. Larson is currently hitting .303 with 30 hits, seven doubles, a triple and three home runs.

BIBONA CATCHING UP TO LEADERS: Bibona struck out a season-high 12 batters last Thursday and now has amassed 290 career strikeouts to take over the No. 3 spot in the Anteater records. The All-American lefty needs nine strikeouts to pass Anteater alum Glenn Swanson, who posted 298 strikeouts from 2002-06. Scott Gorgen is the program's all-time leader with 327. Bibona is currently averaging 10.9 strikeouts per game.

`EATERS RECORD TEAM-HIGH IN HITS: UCI registered a team-high 22 hits last Thursday against CSUN for their highest hit production this season. Stevenson led the way with four hits while Hernandez chipped in three. Five Anteaters totaled two hits apiece while five added a hit each. The team's 16 runs were also the second-highest run total this season.

WEEKLY WRAPUP: UCI opened the Big West portion of the schedule with a sweep of Cal State Northridge. It is the fourth consecutive year that the Anteaters have won their opening conference series.

Thursday the Anteater offense staked Daniel Bibona to an early lead scoring a combined six runs in the third and fourth innings and went on to win 16-2. Stevenson led the team with a career-high five RBI, going 4 for 7 while Brian Hernandez drove in three runs on three hits. Jeff Cusick was 2 for 6 with two RBI and two runs scored. Bibona struck out 12 and held CSUN to two runs on four hits to improve to 4-2.

Friday Christian Bergman helped UCI clinch the series with, limiting the matadors to three runs on eight hits in six innings. Bergman did not walk a batter in the outing. The Anteaters then turned to Andy Lines (Palos Verdes Estates/Palos Verdes HS) and Kyle Necke, who combined for three hitless innings in a 5-3 victory. Larson led the team with three RBI while Cusick topped the `Eaters with three hits. Hernandez and Crumlich each posted two hits apiece in the win.

Saturday UCI jumped out to a 7-0 lead after seven innings but CSUN rallied to score a run in the seventh and four in the eighth to cut the lead to two runs at 7-5. Pettis handed the ball to the Anteater bullpen and Necke shut the door, facing two batters in the ninth. Shaeffer went 4 for 5 with three runs scored while Hernandez drove in two runs on 3 for 5 hitting. Olson also recorded two RBI in the win.