IRVINE, Calif. --- UC Irvine roared back from a five-run deficit, but again fell one run short dropped the series to Houston Saturday afternoon, 5-4, in Anteater Ballpark.
The Cougars (17-5) scored in even-numbered innings on the back of Corey Julks who provided run-scoring hits in each of his first three at-bats to give UH the 5-0 lead through five-and-a-half.
The Anteater bats were stuttering with three hits through five innings before a pair of hits gave way to Cole Kreuter who blasted a home run for the second straight day out to left field with two outs bring UCI (11-8) within 5-3.
The excitement really ramped up in the eighth inning after a pitch high over the batter from Chris Vargas prompted a warning from home plate umpire Ramon Armendariz. Head Coach Mike Gillespie voiced his displeasure after the call, and again after the play leading to an ejection from Armendariz.
Vargas finished the inning with a strikeout and fielding a popup, and the momentum flowed into the bottom half as a leadoff double from Mikey Duarte began the undoing of Houston starter Mitch Ullom who left after 7.1 innings. Closer Aaron Fletcher entered and uncorked a wild throw to first base on a comebacker to allow Duarte to score closing the gap to 5-4.
Fletcher found his groove settling down to strike out four of the next six batters he faced including Evan Cassolato to end the game with the 'Eaters dropping another one-run battle, 5-4.
Fletcher's fifth save helped Ullom improve to 3-2 after he allowed three earned runs and seven hits in 7.1 innings. Anteater starter Louis Raymond fell victim to 11 hits and all five earned runs in the loss making his 3-2, but he did not walk a Cougar as did bullpen efforts from Chris Vargas and Ryan Johnston who came together to strikeout four in three perfect innings of relief.
Kreuter's three-run blast wasn't nearly enough offensively as the 'Eaters totaled seven hits getting one multi-hit performance from Duarte. Julks hurt the Anteaters with three hits and four RBI, and combined with Jake Scheiner's three hits and Grayson Padgett's two doubles to account for the Cougars' runs.
The loss marks the first weekend series UCI will lose so far in 2017, and matches its longest losing streak at three games. UCI will look to salvage things with a win Sunday in the game starting at 12:00 p.m. in Anteater Ballpark.