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HomeSportsBaseballNo. 21 UC Irvine Baseball Advances to Regional Championship

No. 21 UC Irvine Baseball Advances to Regional Championship

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The UC Irvine Anteater baseball team (44-8, 22-8) defeated the Nicholls State Colonels (38-21, 16-8) 13-12 in the first round of the NCAA Regionals in Corvallis, Oreg. in front of a crowd of 3,893 people on May 31.

In this regional game, in all but the third and sixth inning, both teams scored at least one run.

Nicholls started the scoring early in the top of the first inning with an RBI go-ahead double by senior infielder Garrett Felix to take a 1-0 lead.

UC Irvine answered back with a walk by redshirt junior infielder Woody Hadeen, which was followed by a two-run home run by junior outfielder Myles Smith. This gave the Anteaters their first lead of the game, 2-1.

In the next at-bat, senior outfielder Caden Kendle hit another home run which extended the Anteaters’ lead to 3-1.

In the top of the fourth inning, graduate pitcher Nick Pinto struck out senior infielder MaCrae Kendrick to tie the all-time UC Irvine Baseball career pitcher strikeout record at 334 strikeouts. Former UCI pitcher Daniel Bibona was the previous record holder.

UC Irvine continued to add on runs in the bottom of the fourth inning when redshirt junior infielder Will Bermudez singled to get the action started. Junior outfielder Chase Call followed that hit up with a single of his own, then senior infielder Jo Oyama hit a single. Hadeen picked up his first RBI’s of the game when he hit a single and brought home Bermudez and Call and gave the Anteaters a 5-1 lead.

Smith continued his strong performance with another home run in the bottom of the fourth which brought home Oyama and Hadeen and gave the Anteaters a 8-1 lead.

Sophomore first baseman Anthony Martinez continued the action with a walk and then junior designated hitter Dub Gleed hit a double which scored Martinez, giving UC Irvine a 9-1 lead.

The Colonels began to answer back in the top of the fifth inning as they scored four runs to reduce the Anteaters lead to 9-5.

In the bottom of the fifth inning the Anteaters continued to add on runs as Call doubled and then Oyama singled. Hadeen followed up those two hits by grounding into a double play where he and Oyama were called out, but Call scored on the play to give the Anteaters a 10-5 lead.

In the top of the seventh inning, Nicholls began to catch up to the Anteaters, scoring three runs off of a walk, a hit-by-pitch and three RBI singles which cut the lead to 10-8.

UC Irvine looked to create a larger lead in the bottom of the seventh as Call tripled and Oyama hit a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing home Call giving the Anteaters a 11-8 lead.

The Colonels scored once again in the top of the eighth inning, pulling the game within two behind the Anteaters at 11-9.

In the top of the ninth, the Colonels completed a full comeback as junior outfielder Narvin Booker Jr. walked and junior catcher Jaden Collura walked. Senior infielder Edgar Alvarez then hit a home run which scored Booker Jr. and Collura to give them a 12-11 lead.

With their last chance to tie the game, senior outfielder Jacob Stinson singled, but Oyama hit into a fielder’s choice at second which took Stinson off of the basepath.  Oyama reached off of the play and then Hadeen walked. Then, Nicholls committed an error allowing Smith to get on base.

Kendle followed this up with a walk-off single which gave Oyama a chance to score to tie the game at 12 and Hadeen then scored the go ahead run, winning the game for the Anteaters 13-12.

Pinto pitched four and two-thirds of an inning in which he struck out seven, but with 334 strikeouts during his time at UC Irvine, he will stay tied with former pitcher Daniel Bibona for the most strikeouts for a pitcher in UC Irvine history.

Smith had a very strong game performance in which he had two home runs, three hits, five runners batted in and one walk.

UC Irvine Baseball becomes the school’s third program to record a win in an NCAA tournament game this school year, tying men’s volleyball with one tournament win.

Unfortunately, the Anteaters fell to Oregon State 11-6 in the regional championship on Monday, June 3, ending their season.

Jack Fedor is a Sports Apprentice. He can be reached at jfedor@uci.edu

Edited by Phillip Lemus, Annabelle Aguirre, and Jacob Ramos