The UCI Baseball team (21-11, 7-8) fell to the UCSB Gauchos (22-12, 7-5), 13-8, on a chilly evening at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium in Santa Barbara on Saturday, April 15.
UCI’s offense came together, scoring an impressive eight runs, five of them in the second inning alone. Unfortunately, the game’s deciding factor came down to a grueling relief pitching standoff, with UCSB relievers proving more efficient than UCI relievers.
Following the Anteaters’ 5-4 Friday night win against UCSB the previous night, the UCI offense came out swinging, propelling them to an early lead. Redshirt sophomore second baseman Will Bermudez hit leadoff for the ‘Eaters in the top of the second inning and lined a base hit up the middle, giving UCI a crucial leadoff runner with no outs. The ‘Eaters loaded the bases with two consecutive bunts and junior left fielder Caden Kendle drove in a run with a sac fly to deep left field.
UCI junior catcher Thomas McCaffrey, who led the ‘Eaters in batting average coming into the game (.355), came up to bat following Kendle’s RBI, driving in another two runs. He cranked a deep fly ball past the leaping UCSB center and right fielders, collecting two RBIs with a bases-clearing triple, putting the ‘Eaters up 3-0.
UCI freshman first baseman Anthony Martinez kept the rally going, sending a hanging breaking ball soaring over the right field fence with a 108 mph, 431-foot two-run home run — his seventh of the season. By the end of the second inning, the ‘Eaters had raked up a 5-0 lead.
Starting the game for the ‘Eaters, sophomore right-handed pitcher Danny Suarez recorded a strong outing, pitching four innings, allowing only two earned runs from the talented UCSB batting order and striking out five batters. Suarez kept his team in the game, and by his exit in the fourth, the ‘Eaters led the Gauchos 7-2.
Unfortunately, the Gaucho offense found their groove against the ‘Eater bullpen as the game wore on. The bottom of the fifth inning proved devastating for the ‘Eaters as the Gauchos recorded six runs off of three homers, with redshirt junior second baseman Jonah Sebring sending a three-run shot sailing over the left field fence, giving the Gauchos their first lead of the game. By the end of the fifth, the Gauchos led the ‘Eaters 8-7.
UCI’s offense tied the game in the top of the seventh when junior third baseman Jo Oyama sent a fly ball over Gauchos redshirt senior left fielder Christian Kirtley’s head, driving in the tying eighth run. Despite the best efforts of the UCI bullpen, the Gauchos scored five more runs between the bottom of the seventh and the eighth, ultimately defeating the Anteaters by a score of 13-8.
Kira Dort is a Sports Staff Writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.