LOS ANGELES, Calif. --- UC Irvine fought off a UCLA team that kept climbing back into the game taking the midweek road matchup, 5-3, Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
UCI (10-5) managed a first-inning run for the fifth straight game capitalizing on walks and a wild pitch to take the early lead, 1-0.
UCLA (6-9) struggled to figure out Anteater starter Jordan Bocko who sat down the first 10 Bruins before UCLA scratched across the tying run in the fourth with thanks to an error on a steal attempt cashed in on the next pitch by Kyle Cuellar.
The 'Eaters charged back into the lead in the sixth inning thanks to a 10-pitch battle from senior Evan Cassolato who whacked a ball into right field scoring two. He would come around as well thanks to a Bruin throwing error bringing in a third run in the inning.
UCLA struck back in the seventh again with Cuellar dishing a two-out hit of his own to left center to score two for the Bruins. Andre Pallante would clean up his mess and strike out the final out of the inning to preserve the one-run lead.
Calvin Faucher would do the same for Pallante in the eighth as the Bruins left bases loaded ending their last good chance as UCI would hang on for the 5-3 victory.
The four pitchers turned in a quality performance striking out 13 hitters in all. Faucher notched his seventh save to remain the nation's leader. Ryan Johnston picked up win No. 2 on the season with 1.2 scoreless innings.
Offensively, Alex Guenette shone through with his first career three-hit game that included a double and a run, and he built onto the lead with a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning. Cassolato came around to score twice on top of his two RBI, Keston Hiura had two hits to extend his hit streak to 13 games, and Devin Pettengill singled twice and stole two bases pacing the 'Eaters who as a team stole five bases for the first time in nearly a year.
UCLA had little offense to speak of outside of Cuellar. Will McInerny did double and score off the bench. Seven pitchers in all were used, and Nick Scheidler was dealt the loss, his second on the year.
The Anteaters returned to the win column as they've done seven times in their last eight games, and it comes in front of its first out-of-state venture as UCI heads north to Seattle to play a weekend set with the Redhawks starting Friday, March 17 at 5:00 p.m.
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