IRVINE, Calif. --- UC Irvine fell down early, but were picked up by the bullpen and a late offensive effort to take the series Saturday, 6-3, over Portland in Anteater Ballpark.
The Pilots (1-8) got the scoring going in the first inning with a two-out, two-run single from Ryan Hoogerwerf, and built a 3-0 lead with a run in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly.
The Anteaters (5-4) closed the gap in the bottom half of the inning with a two-out, two-run single of their own from Evan Cassolato. Then the offense got clicking in the sixth inning with three runs all on singles to charge into the lead, 5-3.
The pitching came together after a serviceable effort from starter Sean Sparling going four innings before giving way to Ryan Johnston, making his debut at Cicerone Field, who went two scoreless innings to allow UCI to take the lead. Andre Pallante cleaned up in his first relief appearance shutting things down for the final three innings striking out six to earn his first save in the 6-3 victory.
Cassolato led the offensive effort with three hits and a pair of RBI. Mikey Duarte also had three hits, and was one of four other 'Eaters to drive home a run. Alex Guenette stepped up off the bench to score a pair of runs and record a hit and RBI.
Hoogerwerf had three hits and two RBI for the Pilots. On the mound, starter Corbin Powers left with the lead after 3.2 innings, but Tate Budnick was unable to hold it allowing four earned runs in 4.1 innings.
The win for Johnston was the first of his career and was joined by Pallante's first career save helping the 'Eaters to their first series win of the year.
UCI will look for the sweep on Sunday against the Pilots. The game time has changed to an 11:00 a.m. start as the teams will attempt to get the game in before the impending weather.