photo credit to Steve Coburn
GOLETA, Calif. --- UC Irvine was handed a similar fate to what it dealt UC Santa Barbara the day before allowing five runs in the final two innings to lose on a walk-off sacrifice fly, 8-7, Saturday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.
The Anteaters (13-19, 2-4) jumped out to a big lead thanks to a six-run seventh inning where seven straight Anteaters got hits punctuated by a bases-clearing triple off the bat of Mikey Duarte putting UCI up 7-3 as the teams went to the bottom of the seventh.
Andre Pallante struck out the side in the seventh, but got rattled a bit in the eighth allowing a pair of hits and a home run before handing it over to Calvin Faucher. The 'Eater closer bent allowing two more runs to score, but struck out a pair of Gauchos (15-18, 4-5) to preserve the lead momentarily stranding the go-ahead runs on base.
Despite threats in the eighth and ninth innings, the 'Eaters could not put anymore cushion on their lead, and they paid dearly for it as UCSB managed to tie the game on a double capped inside the left field foul line, and later scored the eighth and decisive run on a long sacrifice fly from Armani Smith to wrap up the game and series for the Gauchos.
Duarte's four-hit, three-RBI day was tops among all hitters. Keston Hiura and Matt Reitano joined him with three-hit days as part of 16 Anteater hits. Evan Cassolato scored twice while registering two hits, and Jake Hazard also had two hits coming off the bench.
Sam Cohen sparked the Gaucho offense with three hits including a home run and starting the ninth-inning rally off with a hit. Dempsey Grove had the club's lone two-RBI day while Tommy Jew with three hits and Kenny Corey added the game-tying double and scored the game-winner as part of his three runs scored.
Chris Clements was locked in for six innings allowing just one run and striking out five until the seventh inning hit and he was hit for all six runs and tagged with 12 hits in the game. Steven Ledesma scored his first win of the season in one inning of work. The Anteater staff was up and down as Chris Vargas matched his longest outing at 4.1 innings tossing a career-high 90 pitches. Faucher dropped his fourth game of the season.
A four-run lead matches the biggest lead given up to lose a game for the Anteaters this season. The loss is No. 14 over the last 16 games putting UCI at 13-19 overall and down to 2-4 in Big West play.
The 'Eaters get right back at it with back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday against USC. Monday's game will be back at Anteater Ballpark as it was rescheduled from a rainout last month, and first pitch will come down at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday will be at USC with a 6:00 p.m. start time.