UC Irvine Anteaters at UC Riverside Highlanders (19-28, Big West 5-13)
Riverside Sports Complex (2,500) - Riverside, Calif.
KUCI 88.9 FM with Mark Roberts and Tim Becwar (Friday and Sunday). All games also available live on the internet at kuci.org and ucirvinesports.com
The games Friday and Saturday can be seen on ESPN3 streaming online. Fans can find the link to the live stream on ucirvinesports.com
LAST WEEK RECAP
+ UC Irvine got back to its early season ways winning a weekend series in Hawai'i coming off another late midweek contest.
+ The 'Eaters were down to its last strike Tuesday as it hosted San Diego before Ryan Fitzpatrick muscled a game-tying HR inside the LF foul pole to send the game to extras. USD would eventually get the victory plating four in the 14th inning to win 5-1.
+ UCI flew to Hawai'I for the weekend series, and after the 'Eaters jumped out to an early lead, the Rainbow Warriors stormed back for runs in four straight innings to take the Friday opener, 6-2.
+ After a day off for UH's graduation ceremony on Saturday, the 'Eaters got back to it taking an early 2-0 lead that disappeared with a 3-run Hawai'i sixth. Freshman Adrian Damla stepped up an whacked his first career HR in the eighth to give UCI the lead and eventual Sunday win, 4-3, to even the series.
+ Tempers ran high in the Monday finale after a confrontation stemming from a pickoff play in the second leading to ejections of Hawai'I third baseman Josh Rojas and head coach Mike Trapasso. With the Anteaters leading 4-0, they would add a run in the fourth which would prove to be enough to hold off the Bows as Calvin Faucher worked a 2-inning save to take its first series since mid-March in a 5-4 victory.
WHO SHOWED OUT
+ The big blow that turned the series around from Adrian Damla mashing his first career home run, a go-ahead shot in the eighth. His impressive Sunday came on the heels of a Friday game where he reached base three times with two hits, scored a run, and stole a base, and all the while Damla proved his versatility playing his first left field of the season in all three games.
+ With all the fireworks that were dished back and forth, the weekend's MVP was more of the unsung variety in Parker Coss. He had four hits in the four games, and was the team's leader in sacrifices at 15 had a sac bunt on Friday and sac fly on Sunday. He advanced runners five times with an out upping his season total to 33 times. One of the hits came on a successful suicide squeeze Sunday, and his two-out hit in the eighth allowed Damla to hit his home run. Coss led the club with three RBI over the week and now has 16 RBI in 18 Big West games which ranks sixth in the conference and is twice as many as any of his teammates in conference play.
+ Calvin Faucher had the best week on the mound putting up six scoreless innings and 11 strikeouts. Faucher pitched into the 11th on Tuesday, and picked up back-to-back saves on Sunday and Monday giving him a Big West-high of 12 this year and he is now the fourth Anteater to reach 20 all-time saves.
+ The rest of the bullpen followed his lead led by Andre Pallante who was effective in his two appearances throwing 4.1 shutout innings walking one and allowing three hits. He picked up his team-leading sixth win in the Sunday victory. Michael Martin picked up his second hold of the season on Monday and allowed just one hit in his three innings of work last week.
+ Evan Cassolato had dropped a sizable amount with his average, but broke through for a team-high five hits this week and added his first RBI in May and first double since the LBSU series.
+ Keston Hiura was held in check for the most part with just four hits over the week, but put up three more walks giving him 46 for the season and 88 all-time.
+ Adam Alcantara entered rarified air with two sacrifice flies in Monday's win, just the 15th occurrence in program history. He also connected on an outfield assist with Ryan Fitzpatrick on a well-executed relay on Monday. Fitzpatrick had an RBI in Hawai'i and also put up a timely game-tying HR against USD.
I CAN BE YOUR HIURA
+ Baseball America's most recent mock draft release slotted Keston Hiura to go 20th overall in the upcoming MLB Draft. He was projected as high as No. 10 in the initial Baseball American mock draft in March. Baseball America's John Manuel went as far as saying Keston is "pound-for-pound the best college hitter in the draft" last month on MLB Network.
+ Keston Hiura leads the nation in on-base percentage (.554), fifth in walks (44), sixth in batting (.405), and 17th in slugging (.684) along with conference lead in walks, doubles (18), and total bases (108).
+ Hiura earned the spotlight early on being named to five Preseason All-American lists from publications such as Baseball American, the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association, D1Baseball.com, Collegiate Baseball News, and Perfect Game USA. He received Preseason All-American status by three publications heading into his sophomore season.
+ Hiura's most recent accolade was a return to the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List as the only Big West member of list of 40 players marking the second straight year he's appeared on both the midseason and preseason lists.
+ He spent the summer with the U.S. Collegiate National Team on their global trip to play national teams in Taiwan, Japan, and Cuba. Hiura hit .289 hitting three homers and driving in six including a go-ahead HR in Cuba to give the team its first-ever series win at Cuba.
+ In 158 career games, Hiura has failed to reach base in just nine while producing 216 hits, 88 walks, 49 doubles, 22 HR, and 127 RBIs. He recently became the 23rd Anteater all-time to drive in 100 career RBI, the 15th Anteater all-time to record 200 hits, is second in program history in HR, hitting, and slugging, needs five walks to match the program's single season walks mark, and stands three doubles from matching Jeff Cusick's program record of 52.
+ Hiura was named Big West Freshman Field Player of the Year, a first for the program, and made the All-West Region team, the third straight season an Anteater made it, following a 2015 campaign where he landed near the top of many Anteater freshman records including second in doubles (18), hits (75), and at-bats (227) while setting new marks with seven home runs and 52 RBIs.
+ Keston Hiura's arm issues have drawn the interest of many in the college and professional ranks alike. Baseball America's John Manuel wrote of it prior to the season, and Aaron Fitt touched on it early this season about Hiura's offseason dealing with a partial tear in his elbow. Hiura was completely shut down for a majority of it, and underwent platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment in January to aid in the recovery. He has continued to take ground balls in the infield and fly balls in the outfield in batting practice, but does not have any plans to play the field in a game remaining the team's DH.
+ Mikey Duarte was held out of the last six games with stiffness in his neck. He hurt it Sunday at Cal State Fullerton in a collision with first baseman Timmy Richards legging out an infield single.
+ Cameron Bishop has yet to play in 2017 with an oblique issue.
+ Matt Reitano will be out for an extended period of time after reinjuring his knee in Tuesday's win at USC, an injury that kept him out for most of the fall and winter. His teammate at the backstop Griffin Mazur is officially done for the year after having surgery on his foot. He is also slated to return over the summer.
UC RIVERSIDE HIGHLANDERS
The Highlanders had high expectations heading in the 2017 season, and it started off well splitting a neutral site series with Nebraska, taking down UCLA in a midweek, and scoring series at Fresno State and Kansas State. UCR was met rudely as Big West play began. After winning the opener over Cal State Fullerton, it dropped 13 of 14 games and to the bottom of the conference standings. Things have trended upward lately, however, for Troy Percival's bunch. Despite a series loss at UC Davis, prior to that, UCR took down UC Santa Barbara and went to Utah and two of three from them to put them at 19-28 overall.
In the 2017 season, the Highlanders have not necessary shone on the offensive end sitting last or near the bottom in most every category including a bottom-dwelling .256 team average. UCR is very similar to the 'Eaters in that there isn't much slugging going on, but the Highlanders aren't much of a presence on the basepaths sitting last in the conference in walks, sac bunts, sac flies, and steal attempts. UCR hitters have struck out 419 times, nearly 70 more than everyone else in the Big West. One category they succeed in is triples with 17 led by their senior leader Mark Contreras who had three triples in a game earlier this year part of his .361 average and six stolen bases. Junior infielder Colby Schultz holds the reins on a lot of the offensive numbers with team highs in hits, runs, doubles, and walks. Connor Cannon has added eight homers and 28 RBI, but has missed the last five games.
The rotation has been pretty fluid, but Ryan Lillie and his 10 Ks per nine innings and Alex Fagalde's 3.75 ERA over 69.2 innings provide a competent duo. Jared Morton will be a factor appearing in 26 games, while Richard Delgado (52.1 IP), Hazahel Quijada (36 Ks), and Angel Landazuri (6 BB) provide fairly deep relief to a staff.