No. 27 UC Irvine Plays Seven Straight to Conclude Home Schedule

May 11, 2010

`EATERS HOST UCLA, UC SANTA BARBARA: UC Irvine (29-16, 10-5 Big West) plays seven straight games at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark to close out the home portion of its schedule. The Anteaters look to avenge a loss against No. 11 UCLA Tuesday (May 11) with first pitch at 6:00 p.m. and then entertain UC Santa Barbara in continuing conference action this weekend. Ga me time Friday is 6:00 p.m. while the following two games of the series is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. starts.

LARSON BLASTS HIS WAY TO BIG WEST'S WEEKLY HONORS: Francis Larson (Yorba Linda/Esperanza HS) was named the Big West Player of the Week after recording a break-out performance, including setting a new UC Irvine record.

Larson hit .563 and boasted a slugging percentage of 1.188 after going 9 for 16 with eight RBI in four games. He doubled twice, tripled once and hit two home runs to become UC Irvine's career home run leader with 22. Larson posted a career-high seven RBI Sunday to help UCI clinch the series win in the rubber game against Cal Poly.

Tuesday, the catcher was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI against USC, driving in the game-tying run in the Anteater fifth. He walked and scored the insurance run Friday in a 3-1 win against the Mustangs to open the series and then went 2 for 3 Saturday, was walked and hit by the pitch, reaching safely in four of five plate appearances.

Sunday, Larson went 4 for 6, recording two home runs, a triple and a single, falling a double shy of the cycle. Larson's three-run home run in the first capped a five-run inning. After singling in the fifth he then tripled in a run in the sixth and blasted his record-breaking 22nd career home run in the seventh, a three-run shot to highlight a seven-run inning.

Larson is hitting .288 with 47 hits and 32 RBI. This is the first honor for Larson this season and second of his career.

TWO RECORDS FALL IN SAN LUIS OBISPO: Two UC Irvine records fell over the weekend at Cal Poly.

Senior Daniel Bibona (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita HS) struck out six to become UCI's career leader in strikeouts with 330. Bibona, who needed four to surpass former teammate Scott Gorgen's 2006-08 total of 327, has now amassed 300. He has climbed to sixth in the career annals with 324.2 innings pitched and is fourth in wins at 31. Bibona is one victory away from tying the No. 2 spot, currently held by Gorgen and Bob Frishette (1977-80).

Bibona is 9-2 with a 2.10 ERA. He has fanned 100 batters in 90 innings while walking just 15.

Larson became the program's all-time leader in home runs, blasting his 21st and record-breaking 22nd round-trippers Sunday against the Mustangs. The senior catcher surpassed Cody Cipriano (2004-07) and Jaime Martinez (2002-06) who held the record at 21.

CUSICK, LARSON NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Francis Larson and Jeff Cusick have been voted to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District team.

Nominees must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative grade point average at his/her current institution and have participated in at least 50 percent of the team's games.

Larson, a philosophy major, is in the top 10 percent of his class in the Humanities Department and is expected to graduate cum laude this June. A three-time Academic All-District honoree, Larson has been a Dean's List member all but one quarter at UC Irvine and is a three-time Big West Scholar-Athlete. He was named the GPA Award winner at the College World Series in 2007 for having the highest GPA on the team that year.

On the field, Larson was just named a Big West Player of the Week after becoming the program's all-time home run leader. Larson hit .563 and boasted a slugging percentage of 1.188 after going 9 for 16 with eight RBI in four games. The senior catcher posted a career-high seven RBI to help UCI clinch the series Sunday. He is hitting .288 with 47 hits, including 10 doubles, two triples and five home runs. He has 32 RBI and 23 runs scored on the season.

It is the first honor for Cusick, who is a two-time Big West Scholar-Athlete. Cusick is expected to graduate this June with a degree in sociology and a minor in education.

The first baseman was tabbed a 2010 West Region Player of the Week and Big West Player of the Week this season. He is tied for first in the UCI career annals with 49 doubles and tops the team with a .398 average. He leads the Anteaters in hits (68), doubles (18), home runs (7) and RBI (50). Cusick is ranked 10th nationally in the NCAA's "Toughest to Strikeout" category and has struck out just eight times in 171 at bats. Last weekend, Cusick posted a career-high seven RBI in the Sunday win against Cal Poly and hit .529 (9 for 17) with three triples, a home run and nine RBI.

CUSICK DRIVES IN CAREER-HIGH: Jeff Cusick (Mission Viejo/Santa Margarita HS) and Larson combined for 14 RBI Sunday with each driving in a career-high seven apiece.

Cusick hit .529, recording nine RBI on nine hits while scoring five runs. The senior standout laced three doubles at Cal Poly and smashed his team-high seventh home run of the season. Cusick tops the team with 21 multiple-hit games and 12 multiple-RBI games. His four-hit game Sunday, ties a single-game high for the first baseman this season. Cusick went 4 for 4 against Gonzaga in mid-March.

CUSICK TIES DOUBLES MARK: Cusick's three doubles last week gave him 49 career doubles, tying the mark belonging to Jeff Malinoff from 1971-74. His 18 doubles on the season place him in a tie for ninth in the program's season record books. Former Anteater Taylor Holiday (2006-07) posted a record-high 24 in 2007.

Cusick also dots the career annals in home runs and RBI. He moved into fourth, tying Malinoff's 1971-74 home run total of 16. has 139 runs batted in to sit in third.

LINES GETS TUESDAY START: Freshman lefty Andy Lines (Palos Verdes Estates/Palos Verdes HS) will be handed the ball Tuesday in the start against UCLA. Lines, who is 1-0 with a 5.79 ERA has recorded 13 strikeouts in 9.1 innings. He has walked seven and allowed six earned runs.

Lines has made 16 appearances this season and has shutout the opposition in eight of the last 10 appearances. He made a relief appearance against UCLA in April and struck out one, walked three and did not yield a hit in a shutout inning. Lines' longest outing this year was a two-inning stint against San Diego State, where he struck out two, walked one and did not allow a hit.

PETTIS EARNS SAVE, WIN: Eric Pettis (West Hills/El Camino Real HS) struck out two in a shutout inning Friday to earn his fifth save of the season in support of starter Bibona. Pettis yielded a hit to lead off the ninth, the first time he has allowed a hit in five save situations this season.

The right-hander then came out Sunday and pitched 5.2 innings in his shortest start of the year. Pettis matched a career-high seven strikeouts and walked one while allowing seven runs on 16 hits but was picked up by the `Eater offense that scored nine runs in the first five innings. It was the first time in 12 starts that Pettis has yielded more than four earned runs.

Pettis, slated to pitch Sunday, is 7-2 with a 3.83 ERA. He has struck out 60 in 89.1 innings.

With two outings last week, Pettis has now made 102 career appearances, becoming just the second Anteater to reach 100 appearances. Blair Erickson (2004-07) holds the program record with 113.

A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING: Sophomore D.J. Crumlich (Irvine/HS) helped the Anteater offense over the weekend, hitting .500 in three games at Cal Poly.

Crumlich, who has hit safely in four of the last seven games, went 4 for 8 with a pair of doubles, a home run and two RBI. He also walked twice, had a sacrifice bunt and delivered a sacrifice fly to improve to .253 on the season with 20 hits, four doubles and nine RBI.

Friday, Crumlich doubled and scored the eventual game-winning run while going 2 for 2 with a walk and a sacrifice.

Saturday Crumlich doubled but was left stranded, going 1 for 3, and capped the weekend with a 1 for 3 outing Sunday, including posting his first home run of the season. Crumlich walked and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to right.

HERNANDEZ SCORES TEAM-HIGH NINE: Junior Brian Hernandez (Sylmar/College of the Canyons) scored a team-high nine runs in four games last week white hitting .412.

Hernandez went 2 for 4 with two RBI and two runs scored against USC, putting UCI on the board in the first with an RBI single. He then doubled in a run and was walked and crossed the plate as the go-ahead run in the eighth.

After being held hitless Friday, Hernandez rebounded, hitting 3 for 4 with four runs scored and an RBI Saturday. He put the Anteaters on the board in the first with a triple and went on to reach safely and score in four of five plate appearances.

Sunday Hernandez was 2 for 4 with three runs scored. The third baseman is hitting .337 with 58 hits. He is second with 13 doubles and 37 RBI and is tied for third with three home runs.

MUTIPLES OF TWO: Designated hitter Ronnie Shaeffer (Garden Grove/Pacifica HS) posted a pair of games with two RBI apiece last week. The designated hitter drove in two runs on two hits against USC and then recorded a pair of RBI against Cal Poly Saturday while adding two hits Sunday. Shaeffer has driven in two runs in five of the last nine games and now has 29 on the season. The sophomore is third on the team among the starters with a .331 average and has recorded 50 hits with nine doubles, a triple and three home runs.

DRAWING FIRST BLOOD: UCI has scored in the first inning in seven of the last nine games and has out-scored the opposition 52-19 in the first inning. The club is 17-6 when putting a run up in the first frame and 23-5 when scoring first.

GETTING OFFENSIVE: The Anteaters scored eight runs in the first two innings and went on to register an 18-13 win Sunday, the second-highest output for the club this season. UCI team-best 19 runs came in a win against Loyola Marymount in late February. The team's 17 RBI tie its highest total, also recorded against the Lions while the `Eaters four home runs match the effort recorded against Saint Mary's in the series opener. It was the first time in eight games UCI has reached double-digit runs. The team last posted 10 runs a the win against UC Davis.

THE HITS KEPT COMING: The Anteaters gave up a single-game high 23 hits in the win against Cal Poly Sunday. The Mustangs scored 15 runs Saturday and 13 Sunday, marking the first time this season UCI has allowed the opposition to score 10 or more runs in back-to-back games. Prior to the weekend, the Anteater staff had given up double-digit runs just once this year, falling 13-6 against Coastal Carolina.

BRUINS BITS: UCLA is 34-10 overall and 10-8 in the Pac-10. The Bruins are led by Justin Uribe, who is hitting .360. Tyler Rahmatulla tops the team with 56 hits and Dean Espy is the club's RBI leader with 34.

IT'S CLAYPOOL AGAIN: UCLA will hand right-hander Garrett Claypool the ball for a second time against the Anteaters. The senior held UCI to a run on six hits in seven innings to collect the win earlier this season at Jackie Robinson.

Claypool boasts a 7-1 record and a 2.02 ERA. He has made 16 appearances and nine starts, registering 61 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. He has walked just 14 and scattered 37 hits.

THE SERIES: The Anteaters trail the Bruins 24-42-1 in the series records.

ROUNDING UP THE GAUCHOS: UC Santa Barbara is 20-22 overall and 6-9 in the Big West. UCSB currently sits tied for sixth in the league standings.

The team is led by Trevor Whyte, who tops the starters with a .320 average. Whyte holds the team lead in hits with 49 and RBI with 30. He is second in doubles with seven and tied for second with four home runs.

THE SERIES: UCI trails in the series records against the Gauchos, 44-41. The Anteaters came away with two road wins in 2009.

WEEKLY WRAPUP: UC Irvine posted a 2-2 mark last week, falling to USC before coming away with two of three wins at Cal Poly.

UCI came out on the losing end of a see-saw battle against the Trojans in a game that saw six lead changes. After scoring the go-ahead run to take a 6-5 lead in the eighth, USC plated three runs in the top of the ninth to snap UCI's eight-game win streak against the Trojans. Christian Bergman (Altadena/St. Francis HS) fell to 5-3 with the loss while Brian Hernandez and Ronnie Shaeffer each had two RBI on two hits.

Daniel Bibona notched his ninth win of the season in a 3-1 victory to open the series Friday at Cal Poly. The Anteaters scored an early run on Casey Stevenson's RBI hit and then broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh on Sean Madigan's clutch double to plate D.J. Crumlich. Four Anteaters posted two hits apiece while Stevenson paced the team with two RBI.

The team scored early with two runs in the first but was unable to hold off the Mustangs, who scored eight runs from the second through the fifth innings. Cal Poly then put up a six spot to break open the game in a 15-7 loss for UCI. Hernandez topped the team with three hits and four runs scored.

UCI rode the bats of Jeff Cusick and Francis Larson to take the series finale with an 18-13 win. The senior duo each had a career-high seven RBI as the team scored 18 runs on 16 hits.