Anteaters Come From Behind To Beat Roadrunners

Ryan Cooper delivers a pinch-hit, two-run double to drive in go-ahead runs
Ryan Cooper delivers a pinch-hit, two-run double to drive in go-ahead runs

IRVINE, Calif. --- Sparked by back-to-back home runs, UC Irvine erased a 4-0 deficit and came from behind to win 7-4 against CSU Bakersfield Tuesday at Hardt Field. The win lifts UCI to 16-8 overall as the team opens Big West Conference action this weekend against UC Riverside.

The 6:00 p.m. game was delayed an hour as an accident on the 5 North prevented the scheduled umpires to reach Hardt Field. CSUB tracked down a local umpire who was available and game began at 7:00 p.m. with a one-man crew until the sixth inning.

The Roadrunners were the first to jump on the board, scoring all four runs in the bottom of the third by batting around and capitalizing on two UCI errors. With one out and runners on first and third, Oscar Sanay hit a grounder to short that was mishandled by Chris Rabago and allowed Max Carter to score. Starter Evan Manarino struck out Mylz Jones for the second out but Rabago committed the second error of the inning when his throw on a grounder by Chance Gusbeth pulled Connor Spencer off the first-base bag. With the inning extended, Allen Gwynn and Logan Trowbridge came through with consecutive two-out, RBI hits for the four-run advantage.

UC Irvine quickly answered and halted its Tuesday scoreless streak at 21 innings as Spencer hit his first career home run over the right-field fence to lead off the fourth. Taylor Sparks followed suit, belting his third home run of the year to left to cut the Roadrunners' lead to two at 4-2. The rally continued with Jerry McClanahan, who jumped on the first pitch from starter Steven Gee and singled to left-centerfield before taking second on an opposite-field hit by Jonathan Munoz. McClanahan was erased at third on the fielder's choice by Justin Castro but Munoz and Castro advanced on a wild pitch and Evan Cassolato cashed in Munoz with a fly ball to right to trim CSUB's lead to one at 4-3.

The Anteaters struck again in the fifth. Rabago and Spencer kicked off the rally with consecutive hits and Sparks turned a 12-pitch at-bat into a walk to load the bases. McClanahan came through, squeezing home Rabago to knot the game at 4-4.

Ryan Cooper had the biggest hit of the night, coming off the bench to pinch-hit for Castro in the eighth. With runners on first and second and two outs, Cooper belted a 2-1 pitch from reliever Max Carter to deep right-centerfield for a two-run double, giving the 'Eaters a 6-4 lead.

Spencer, vying for a perfect night at the plate in the ninth, hit a clutch two-out double to score Rabago to give UCI an insurance run. Spencer ended the night 4 for 4 with two RBI while Munoz also posted two hits and scored twice.
Jimmy Litchfield fanned one in two innings of one-hit relief to earn the win and improve to 3-1. Sam Moore struck out one in the final two frames to pick up his 10th save. Manarino pitched 4.2 innings in the start, striking out four and allowing four runs (one earned) on six hits.
CSUB starter Steven Gee pitched six innings, giving up four runs on eight hits in a no-decision. Max Carter fell to 0-2 after giving up the go-ahead runs in 1.2 innings while fanning three. Carter paced the Roadrunners at the plate with three hits.
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