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UCI Baseball Continues Undefeated Streak with Close 5-4 over California Baptists

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UC Irvine baseball (10-0) continues their dominant season with a nail biting 5-4 win over California Baptist University (8-5), at Anteater Ballpark on March 6. 

The ‘Eaters entered the game with an impressive 9-0 record, attempting to continue their dominant start to the season against an impressive California Baptist University team. Freshman left-handed pitcher Brandon Luu took the mound for the Anteaters, went hitless in his first two innings as a starter, but gave up two hits and three earned runs in the third inning. The Lancers’ very own starting pitcher, graduate right-handed pitcher Jacob Wilson, posed his own dominant start. He kept UCI at bay through the first two innings himself, with no hits allowed until the third inning.

This standstill eventually changed in the bottom of the third inning in favor of UCI, as the ‘Eaters put on a remarkable rally that started with a hard fought walk from redshirt junior infielder Will Bermudez — which translated into two more walks until the bases were loaded. Then came redshirt junior infielder Woody Hadeen, who broke the scoreless game by driving a ball to shallow left to earn the game’s first run. 

This sudden thrust of life continued for the rest of the inning, with sophomore first baseman Anthony Martinez hitting an RBI sacrifice hit to score another run. Senior catcher Thomas McCaffrey was able to keep the rally going, scoring a two-run RBI single to center. This continued assault on CBU continued with senior infielder Jo Oyama smoking a ball off towards the right field wall, resulting in an RBI triple to make the game 5-0. 

Notably, Oyama also received a “catch of the game” with his remarkable over the head catch of a pop fly in shallow foul territory in the top of the third. “Everyone tried to find a way to get on base, and then it just worked out,” Oyama said regarding the play in an interview with the New University.

Remarkably, this lead would not last long, as the Lancers themselves displayed a powerful fourth inning, resulting in a four-run inning themselves. The scoring began with a batch of walks and batters being hit by pitches, resulting in junior outfielder Cole Howarth scoring the CBU’s first run of the inning on a wild pitch. This continued with an RBI single by junior infielder Gunner Antillon, with an additional two-run RBI single by senior catcher Michael Carpentier to make the game 5-4. 

From here on out, the game became a chess match between the two teams, with each team showing stellar pitching and defense in the pursuit of the win. UCI was able to garner a batch of hits throughout the remaining five innings but was mostly silenced with strikeouts and groundouts. The Lancers themselves also found themselves at the other end of their performance, being retreated to mostly groundouts and strikeouts. That’s not to say that both teams did not come dangerously close to scoring. As the ‘Eaters found themselves unable to capitalize on runners in scoring position, as did CBU similarly. 

However, with the lead over their heads, UCI put the final three outs of the ninth in the hands of graduate right-handed pitcher Ricky Tibbett, who made quick work of the Lancers, gaining two outs with the first two seen by Tibbett. However, things began to get dangerously close for the ‘Eaters as CBU senior infielder Mitchel Simon and graduate infielder Josh Paino were able to reach base and get into scoring position. 

With runners on third and second, Tibbett was able to ease the eager and anxious fellow Anteaters with a beautiful sinker to record the final out and end the game 5-4, to much ecstatic and energetic emotions and screams from both teammates and fans alike. 

“[I] just wanted to get the 1,2,3. I made it a little interesting at the end, and you know, that’s fine, that’s baseball, that’s how it goes.” Tibbett said.

Regarding the support from his teammates through the anxious three outs, Tibbett explained how this support motivated him positively. “Those [teammates] are my boys. When my boys back me up, that’s when I go.” Head coach Ben Orloff commented postgame that the game itself was “a good game,” as being “10-0 is tough.” 

Hopefully this team dynamic and stellar talent helps push the Anteaters as the season continues  with more games to be played and more games to be enjoyed by students and players alike.

Benjamin Flores is a Sports Staff Writer. He can be contacted at 

Edited by Phillip Lemus and Andrea Garcia.