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UCI Baseball Wins With Stellar Defense Against the University of Hawai’i

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The UC Irvine Baseball team (31-14, 12-9) defeated the University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (22-18, 11-10), 6-1 at Anteater Ballpark on Sunday, May 7. 

On a sunny day at Cicerone Field, many people came out to support the UC Irvine Baseball team as they began their final weekend match against the University of Hawai’i.

Although both teams initially had a slow start, the Anteaters began to pick up their offensive game at the bottom of the third. 

The first hit of the game came from freshman infielder Auggie Gutierrez who hit a leadoff double down the left field line. An attempted single by redshirt sophomore infielder Will Bermudez allowed Gutierrez to get to third, and a double to right-center field by junior infielder Jo Oyama allowed Gutierrez to score a run for UCI, 1-0.

Just as Oyama stepped up to bat, University of Hawai’i head coach Rich Hill, who is in his inaugural year of coaching at UH,  pulled aside the first and second base umpires, disrupting the Anteaters’ rhythm and raising questions about a potential intentional delay of game. While his intentions for delaying the game remained unclear, his concerns were essentially shut down by the umpires. Oyama’s RBI prompted yet another argument from Hill, but the umpires quickly turned him away.

At the bottom of the third, the ‘Eaters scored four additional runs, 5-0, the first of which was scored by Oyama after junior outfielder Caden Kendle hit a double down the left side.

Utilizing the precise pitches by UCI redshirt junior pitcher Nick Pinto, the Anteater defense was able to shut out the Warriors with back-to-back strikeouts up until the sixth inning.

The Warrior offense gained a slight momentum at the top of the sixth, beginning with their first hit by junior catcher Nainoa Cardinez to left field. Despite this hit, the Anteater defense continued to prevent any scoring runs until the eighth inning, when multiple UCI catching errors allowed Hawai’i to score a run. 

Immediately after Hawai’i put a point up on the scoreboard, the Anteater defense bounced back with a double play which only caused additional complaints by Hill until the umpire ejected him from the field. The Anteater crowd booed him and waved goodbye as the Warrior coach walked off.

At the top of the eighth, Pinto’s stellar performance was treated with a loud applause and standing ovation from the crowd as he left the field. He was substituted by redshirt junior pitcher Jacob King for the remainder of the game. 

The UC Irvine Baseball team added one final run to the scoreboard at the bottom of the eighth after a hit-by-pitch on junior catcher Thomas McCaffrey, followed by an attempted base-hit by sophomore outfielder Chase Call and a hit to center field by Gutierrez. The ‘Eaters secured a victory over Hawai’i, 6-1, to close out their weekend series.

This was UC Irvine’s second win out of three games played against the University of Hawai’i at Anteater Ballpark. Despite losing their first match by five points, the Anteaters were able to shut out the Warriors in their next game, 6-0, and concluded the weekend with yet another dominant performance.

Leila Amiri is a Sports Staff Writer. She can be reached at amiril@uci.edu.