The UCI Baseball team (35-17, 16-11) defeated the UC Davis Aggies (17-34, 7-20), 9-2, at Phil Swimley Field at Dobbins Stadium in Davis on Sunday, May 21. The ‘Eaters dominated in their previous Friday, 10-5, and Saturday, 13-2, matchups in hopes of completing the series sweep.
Entering the game, UCI was one of three Big West teams projected to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Sunday’s game was the Aggie’s Senior Night, but the Anteaters looked to spoil the celebration as graduate student right-handed pitcher Andre Antone received the start.
UCI jumped out to a blazing start as junior third baseman/infielder Jo Oyama crushed the first pitch of the game, hitting a triple to deep center field. The ‘Eater offense capitalized on the hot start later in the first inning on an error by Aggie freshman third baseman/catcher Ryan Lee. Sophomore shortstop/infielder Dub Gleed singled to third base where Lee mishandled the ball, allowing UCI to open a 1-0 early lead.
At the top of the third inning, the Anteaters had a chance to further the gap with a runner in scoring position at second. Gleed stepped up at bat and singled to left field, allowing UCI to increase its lead by one. The scoring gap increased later in the third inning after junior catcher Thomas McCaffrey singled to left field for an RBI.
After three innings, the Aggies pulled junior right-handed pitcher Nate Freeman from the game in exchange for draft prospect junior right-handed pitcher Danny Carrion at the beginning of the fourth.
Anteater redshirt sophomore second baseman/infielder Will Bermudez, a former Aggie, attacked the prospect with a single to center field for an RBI, increasing the ‘Eater lead to 4-0.
Antone was pulled from the game after three innings as well, despite not allowing a hit. UCI head coach Ben Orloff opted to finish the game with his bullpen, choosing sophomore right-handed pitcher Finnegan Wall to lead off the relief.
Entering the game, Wall looked to improve his performance after surrendering 10 runs in his last four appearances. In the fourth inning, Aggie senior catcher/third baseman James Williams III continued the trend, demolishing a ball to center field over the outstretched glove of Bermudez for an RBI, cutting the lead to three runs. Wall finished the fourth without allowing another run, closing the inning with a groundout to first base.
Orloff continued to dig through his bullpen in the fifth inning, rolling with redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Tanner Brooks. The Anteater defense struggled early in the inning after sophomore outfielder Myles Smith and redshirt junior outfielder Luke Spillane combined for an error. Aggie junior outfielder Damian Stone doubled to left center field for an RBI, cutting the UCI lead to 4-2.
UC Davis furthered its momentum after sophomore outfielder Mark Wolbert reached first base on a fielder’s choice when Anteater freshman first baseman/catcher Anthony Martinez failed to throw the ball in time to second for the out. The Aggies, down only two runs, had the bases loaded with only one out.
In what was the Aggies’ best opportunity to rally back into the game, they were unable to capitalize. Junior second baseman/infielder Alex Gouveia hit a ground ball to second that turned into a double play for UCI. The ‘Eaters narrowly escaped the inning with its lead still intact.
In the sixth inning, UCI ramped up its offensive capabilities when Martinez hit a sacrifice fly to center field to increase the gap by one. McCaffrey followed up with another single to center field, where junior outfielder Caden Kendle reached home plate before the catcher could tag him. Once again, the Anteater lead ballooned to a four run advantage.
In the top of the seventh inning, Oyama continued his stellar play, singling to right center field for an RBI, awarding the Anteaters their largest lead of the day.
The ‘Eaters continued to flex their offensive prowess in the eighth with a Smith sacrifice fly to center field to increase the lead to 8-2. This sacrifice fly was the 47th of the season for the Anteaters, leading the entire nation.
In the ninth inning, UCI added an insurance run to its lead with another RBI from McCaffrey, singling to deep left field. Closer redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Jacob King finished the game for the ‘Eaters, forcing a groundout to award his team the 9-2 victory against UC Davis.
UCI completed the series sweep against the Aggies, in which they did not record a single home run throughout the three games played this weekend. The scrappiness of the ‘Eaters was on full display as they exhibited their resolve, finding several ways to put runs on the board.
With the NCAA Tournament rapidly approaching, the Anteaters enter the final week of the regular season with a home series against UC Riverside at Anteater Ballpark starting Thursday, May 25. These last three games will be must-wins as the ‘Eaters look to secure their spot in the tournament.
Donnell Fuller is a Sports Intern for the spring 2023 quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.