Cassolato Cashes In Paulino To Win It For Anteaters In 11

Evan Cassolato keys UCI win with walk-off hit
Evan Cassolato keys UCI win with walk-off hit

IRVINE, Calif. --- Evan Cassolato flared an 0-1 pitch to right in the bottom of the 11th to drive in Kris Paulino and lead UC Irvine to a 3-2 win over Loyola Marymount Tuesday at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark.

Hits were at a premium for the Anteaters, who were held to three through nine innings. However, UCI battled and doubled its hit total in the 11th. Paulino hit a one-out single to right to lead off the frame and Ryan Cooper answered the call with a hit-and-run single to center, allowing Paulino to reach third to set the scene for Cassolato's game-winner.

UCI had to erase a two-run deficit after a fielding error allowed two runs to score for the Lions in the top of the third.

The Anteaters cut the lead to one in the fourth. Paulino worked a 3-1 walk off starter Brandon Horth, took second on a grounder to first from Cooper and third on a wild pitch from reliever Tim Peabody. Mikey Duarte hit a fly-ball to right for the sacrifice to put UCI on the board.

LMU's bullpen held the 'Eaters scoreless through the next four innings, facing just one over the minimum and the Anteater arms countered behind relievers Kyle Davis and Sam Moore, who combined for 11 strikeouts in 5.2 hitless innings.

In the bottom of the ninth, third baseman Tyler Cohen was handed the ball in relief. With one out, Cohen plunked Cooper and the junior outfielder stole second. Cassolato, trying to bunt his way on to first, moved Cooper to third on a grounder to the pitcher. Jonathan Munoz came off the bench and whipped a 2-2 pitch through the left side to tie the game.

Moore took care of the Lions in the 10th and retired the first two batters of the 11th. Jimmy Litchfield came in to pitch to lefty Tanner Donnels and induced a grounder to second to end the inning and would pick up his first win of the year.

Evan Manarino started for UCI and scattered nine hits in 4.1 innings while giving up a pair of unearned runs. Cassolato paced UCI with two hits.

Cohen suffered the loss for LMU after 2.1 innings of work in which he fanned four and gave up two runs on three hits. Horth struck out five in three innings while allowing a run on one hit.

UCI travels to Portland this Friday (Feb. 28) for three-game series.


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