Photo provided by UCI Athletics

The UC Irvine Men’s baseball team (28-20, 13-10) annihilated the UC Riverside Highlanders (7-39, 3-23) with a score of 14-4 at the Riverside Sports Complex on Saturday, May 14.

UCR’s senior right-handed pitcher Jeremiah Priddy got off to a rocky start in the first inning. After easily dispatching UCI’s sophomore left fielder Caden Kendle for the first out, UCI answered with a solo home-run from sophomore second-baseman Woody Hadeen. Hadeen was pumped up in his celebration as this marked his first homerun of the season. 

A couple errors by the UCR defensive side led to UCI sophomore catcher Abraham Garcia-Pacheco hitting a base-hit single that allowed redshirt sophomore right fielder Nathan Church to score and give the Anteaters a 2-0 lead. With the bases loaded and only one out, freshman designated hitter Myles Smith committed a sacrifice fly, allowing freshman first and third baseman Dub Gleed to cruise to home plate and give UCI a 3-0 lead at the top of the first. 

Unlike the unraveling by Priddy, UCI’s starting right-handed freshman pitcher David Vizcaino had an easy 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the first. Vizcaino had an outstanding six 1-2-3 innings out of the eight innings he pitched. The young pitcher showed remarkable flashes of potential as he threw for 86 pitches total, only allowing two hits, no walks and four strikeouts. UCR had no response for the talented Riverside Community College (RCC) transfer as Vizcaino held UCR to zero runs through eight innings.

The top of the fourth proved to be Priddy’s last inning as UCI became too much for the UCR pitcher to handle. The inning started with Kendle’s fifth home run of the season, giving UCI a 4–0 lead. Two back-to-back ground base hits by Hadeen and Church gave Gleed his chance to produce his own RBI, a sacrifice fly that led Hadeen to make it 5-0. 

Pacheco followed with his own RBI single into left field, allowing Church to make it 6-0 for the Anteaters. The 6-0 lead led the Highlanders to replace Priddy with redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Caleb Turner who pitched for the remainder of the game. Turner started off with a wild pitch, allowing Pacheco to advance to third base. Then, Smith’s flyout double gave redshirt junior first baseman Justin Torres the chance to make it 7-0 for the Anteaters.

Even with a 7-0 lead into the seventh inning, the Eaters’ offense was eager for more runs. With bases loaded and two runs already driven in, Church, the team leader in RBI’s and hits, strode up to the plate full of confidence having already recorded two base hits and a ground rule double earlier in the game. He certainly did not disappoint. Church cleared the right field fence for a grand slam, adding on four more runs to the already substantial UCI lead.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Finnegan Wall closed out the game for the Eaters in the bottom of the ninth inning, and despite a recording a less successful outing than his predecessor Vizcaino, Wall kept UCR to only four runs, sealing the win for the Eaters with a final score of 14-4.

Marcos Gonzalez is a Sports Staff Writer. He can be reached at marcosg9@uci.edu.

Kira Dort is a Sports Intern for the Spring 2022 quarter. She can be reached at kdort@uci.edu.