Anteaters Dust Pilots In Series Opener
PORTLAND, Ore. ---UC Irvine secured the series with a pair of wins Friday against Portland at Joe Etzel Field. The Anteaters opened the three-game set with a 5-1 decision behind another strong outing by Andrew Morales and then used balanced offense to post a 6-2 victory to sweep the doubleheader.
In the opening tilt, Grant Palmer led off the UCI third with a double to left field and was pushed to third on the bunt by Chris Rabago before plating the first run of the game on a deep fly to center off the bat of Taylor Sparks.
The Anteaters continued to put the pressure on the Pilot pitching as Palmer sparked the 'Eaters again in the fifth, slapping a leadoff single. A failed pickoff by starter Travis Radke allowed Palmer to reach third and Rabago drove him in with a tomahawk single to right. After hitting Sparks with the pitch, Radke was lifted for reliever JR Bunda. UCI then loaded the bases on a fielder's choice, and with two outs, Kris Paulino came through with a single to right, driving in Sparks and Jerry McClanahan to give UCI a 4-0 lead.
After a leadoff single in the fourth, Morales cruised and set down 14 consecutive batters before an error broke up his streak in the bottom of the eighth. The Pilots capitalized with a run-scoring single by Ryan Littlefield to get on the board and then loaded the bases, but Morales struck out Ryan Barr to escape the inning.
Spencer tacked on a run for UCI in the top of the ninth on a hit to center to score Rabago, who had singled to lead off the frame.
Morales improved to 2-0 after dealing eight innings, striking out five and giving up an unearned run. Paulino led the team with two runs batted in while Rabago, Sparks and Spencer each drove in a run on two hits.
Radke pitched four innings and allowed four runs on seven hits to fall to 0-2.