IRVINE, Calif. --- Early offense put UC Irvine in a sizable hole, and after cutting the deficit to one, still could not completely dig out of it falling 9-8 to Minnesota Saturday evening.
After rain pushed Friday's opener back a full day, both squads came out hungry combining for 14 runs in the first three innings. Minnesota (1-0) got after freshman Andre Pallante in the first scoring three times before he could get an out.
The 'Eaters struck back off a Ryan Fitzpatrick two-run home run in the bottom half, and would answer each of the Gophers' innings as they would put up a three-spot in each of the first three innings capped by a two-run Eduardo Estrada homer to put Minnesota up 9-3.
The pitchers found their groove in the fourth as Tyler Hanson and UCI freshman Cole Spear each threw up zeroes in their outings.
Keston Hiura reeled the Gophers back in in the sixth belting a monster double to dead center plating all three runners on base and making it a 9-8 Gopher lead.
The 'Eaters (0-1) couldn't find that ninth run as Brian Glowicki would shut the door with a pair of strikeouts and get Fitzpatrick to pop up to end it and save the 9-8 Gopher win.
Anteater starter Andre Pallante lasted just 1.2 innings in his debut allowing six runs, all earned, as he and six other 'Eaters combined on the pitching side. The most-effective of the bunch was Spear who allowed just two hits and struck out three over his three innings. Kaz Akamatsu also made his debut pitching a scoreless ninth.
Hiura led all 'Eaters with three RBI while Adam Alcantara went 3-for-3 with a triple, RBI, and run scored. Alcantara's hit also extended a hitting streak he built down the stretch of 2016 now standing at 17 games.
Micah Coffey brought home four RBI for the Gophers who got a four-hit night from Luke Pettersen and three hits from Jordan Smith.
The finale of the weekend comes Sunday, February 19 at 11:00 a.m. in Anteater Ballpark.