Early Offense Reigns in 7-5 Win over Aztecs

Early Offense Reigns in 7-5 Win over Aztecs
IRVINE, Calif. --- UC Irvine responded quickly after losing an early lead to distance itself from San Diego State and hang on for the 7-5 victory Tuesday night in Anteater Ballpark. 

Keston Hiura opened things up with a bang crushing a long solo home run to left field to give UCI (2-1) the early first inning lead.

The Aztecs (2-2) chipped away at freshman Cole Spear making his first career start knocking home a pair of runs in the top of the third to leap the 'Eaters and take a 2-1 lead.

The offense struck back in the bottom half of the inning led by another towering shot by Hiura that peppered the right-center wall for a double to tie things at 2-2. Adam Alcantara followed suit slicing a single up the middle to plate two more and up his hit streak to 19 games in the process.

The Anteaters did not get complacent tacking on another three runs in the following inning sparked by a bunt single by Christian Koss and a looping single into shallow center by Devin Pettengill, the first for each in their Anteater careers, to grow the lead. Hiura punctuated things once again with a laser sacrifice fly for another three-run inning and a five-run lead for UC Irvine.

Spear held the Aztecs to two runs before departing in the fifth. Ben Ritchey made his 2017 debut and teamed up with Jordan Bocko to bend but not break to get things to Calvin Faucher with two outs in eighth and a two-run advantage.

Faucher got the final strikeout, but not after a dropped third strike the previous hitter allowed the tying run to come to the plate. Jordan Verdon swung through it to end the game for a second straight 7-5 victory.

Faucher collected save two on the year helping Spear to his first career victory in his debut as a starter. Marcus Reyes allowed five runs, all earned, in 3.1 innings of work taking on the loss.

Hiura stole the show with three hits including a homer, and his three RBI gave him 100 in his Anteater career. Alcantara added a pair of RBI, and Mikey Duarte drove home one along with Pettengill, his first as an 'Eater.

The Aztecs got multi-hit nights out of Danny Sheehan and Chase Calabuig while David Hensley entered the game in the sixth and drove home two. Former Anteater Andrew Martinez made his return to the diamond and got a hit and scored a run in four at-bats as the DH.

Next for the Anteaters is a trip to San Diego and four games in the Tony Gwynn Classic. UCI draws Oregon to open up on Friday, Feb. 21 with a 1:00 p.m. start time.

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