Anteaters Hold Off Aikenhead, Roadrunners
IRVINE, Calif. --- Evan Manarino struck out a career-high nine batters and did not walk a batter as UC Irvine edged Bakersfield, 3-2, Wednesday at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark.
The southpaw (1-0) struck out the side in the first and went on to pitch six innings, scattering six hits while surrendering two runs (one earned). Michael Martin picked up in the seventh and recorded an out before Sam Moore locked up his second save by striking out three in 2.2 innings of shutout relief.
The Anteaters got to Roadrunner starter Taylor Aikenhead in the first. A dropped foul ball by catcher Ross Hough kept the at-bat alive for leadoff hitter, Grant Palmer, who eventually singled to left. Chris Rabago followed with a bunt single and Connor Spencer worked a four-pitch walk to load the bases with one out for Jerry McClanahan who hit a towering fly-ball to left for the run-scoring sacrifice.
Palmer factored in the scoring again for UCI, this time coming up clutch in the bottom of the second with a two-out RBI hit to drive in Justin Castro for a 2-0 lead. McClanahan delivered for a second time with a run-scoring fielder's choice to drive in Taylor Sparks, who had reached second on a two-base error before stealing third.
Bakersfield scored on an unusual play in the third to get onto the board. After loading the bases with one out, Chance Gusbeth popped up a full-count offering to shallow right. Second baseman John Brontsema looked to be in position, but the ball dropped untouched. Jordie Hein scored from third and Gusbeth was called out on the infield fly rule for the second out. Manarino then induced a grounder to short to end the inning and leave two runners stranded.
Gusbeth figured again for Bakersfield, this time reaching second on a two-base error by Taylor Sparks in the sixth. The outfielder would eventually score on an RBI hit by Garrett Pierce, trimming UCI's lead to one, but that would be all as Martin and Moore combined for three scoreless innings.
Palmer paced the 'Eaters with two hits and an RBI while McClanahan drove in two runs.
Aikenhead fell to 1-1 after a seven-inning stint with six strikeouts and allowing three runs (one earned).
The Anteaters host Wright State Friday at 6:30 p.m.