UCI Baseball Escapes a Home Stand Sweep Against Long Beach State, 11-2

Photo by Sarah Millington/Staff

The UCI Baseball team (18-10, 5-7) defeated the Long Beach State Dirtbags (20-10, 8-4), 11-2, at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark on a gorgeous, blue-skied Saturday afternoon on April 8. 

Junior catcher Thomas McCaffrey shined offensively for the ‘Eaters in the victory, recording five hits and racking up six RBI’s, over half of the 11 runs the offense tallied by the end of the game.

Coming off a two-game losing streak against Long Beach State, the ‘Eater bullpen came alive led by sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Danny Suarez, who dazzled the powerful Dirtbag offense, a feat that proved seemingly insurmountable the previous two days.

Long Beach started the offensive action of the game scoring one run off Suarez in the bottom of the first inning. Junior catcher Connor Burns singled to left, picking up an RBI as his teammate, sophomore left fielder Rocco Peppi, scored the first run of the game. 

By the end of his outing, Suarez pitched four innings, allowing only three hits, and striking out three batters. Anteater redshirt junior and fellow right-handed pitcher Cameron Wheeler recorded an impressive three innings after coming in to relieveSuarez. Against the seemingly unstoppable Dirtbag offense, Wheeler pitched three innings with only one hit allowed and two strikeouts recorded.

The UCI offense quickly answered Long Beach’s run with one of their own in the bottom of the first when redshirt sophomore second baseman Will Bermudez ended his offensive dry spell against Long Beach with a clutch two out line drive to right field. The hit acquired an RBI as leadoff man and junior center fielder Caden Kendle used his speed to score from second, tying the game at 1-1. 

The Anteaters added four more runs to their lead in the bottom of the second inning with an RBI single by junior third-baseman Jo Oyama to drive in a run. An RBI double down the left field line by McCaffrey brought three more runners home, extending their lead to 5-1.

Long Beach State added one more run to the scoreboard via an RBI single to left field by sophomore center-fielder Kyle Ashworth to temper the scoreboard to 5-2. The Beach failed to record a single hit afterwards and the UCI bullpen shut them out for the rest of the game.

UCI added six more insurance runs, with three coming in the bottom of the fifth inning off an RBI single by junior outfielder Jacob Stinson. A fielder’s choice error made by The Beach infield brought home another Anteater by mistake, and an RBI single by McCaffrey extended the lead to 8-2 by the end of the fifth inning. 

In the seventh inning, UCI sophomore outfielder Chase Call hit a double over the head of the Long Beach State outfielders and drove another man home, increasing the score gap to 9-2.

McCaffrey went big again in the bottom of the eighth inning with an RBI double to left field, sending home two more runners and giving the ‘Eaters an 11-2 blowout lead. 

Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Jacob King closed the game out in the top of the ninth, striking out one and leading his batters to a groundout and lineout to end the game.

Kira Dort is a Sports Staff Writer. She can be reached at kdort@uci.edu.

Philip Lemus is a Sports Apprentice for the spring 2023 quarter. They can be reached at plemus1@uci.edu