Anteaters Score Season-High Runs To Sweep 'Bows
HONOLULU, Hawaii --- UC Irvine scored a season-best 15 runs to sweep the series against Hawaii with a 15-8 decision Sunday at Les Murakami Stadium. The win lifted UCI to 21-10 and 5-1 in the Big West.
Connor Spencer drove in a career-high four runs on two this while Justin Castro also had a personal-best with three runs batted in on three hits. Kris Paulino tied a season-high with three RBI on two hits, including an inside-the-park home run. Chris Rabago and Jonathan Munoz also posted multiple-hit games with the duo combining for four hits.
UH starter Jarrett Arakawa struggled early. Grant Palmer was issued a walk to lead off the game and was pushed to second on the sacrifice from Rabago. Spencer put UCI on the board with a hit to right and Taylor Sparks crushed a 3-2 pitch that hopped over the left-centerfield wall for a ground-rule double. With a 1-0 count to Jerry McClanahan, Hawaii starter, Arakawa was left the game and Quintin Torres-Costa entered in relief. McClanahan greeted the southpaw with a sharp grounder to short to drive in Spencer and give UCI an early 2-0 lead.
The 'Eaters broke the game open in the fourth with five runs on three hits. Munoz jumped on the first pitch he saw from Torres-Costa and slapped a single up the middle to lead off the inning. Paulino and John Brontsema drew a pair of walks to load the bases and Castro chased Torres-Costa from the game with a ground-rule double to right, giving UCI a 4-0 advantage. The Rainbow Warriors brought in Eric Gleese from the bullpen but the right-hander also struggled, walking Palmer as UCI loaded the bases for the second time in the inning. Gleese's 1-0 pitch to Rabago went to the backstop, allowing Brontsema to score. Rabago drew the fourth walk of the inning to load the bases for Spencer, who tucked a single inside the left-field line to drive in two and extend the Anteater lead to 7-0.
Hawaii mounted its first threat in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with one out on a pair of singles and a walk. Evan Brock struck out Marcus Doi for the second out but then gave up his first home run of the year to Marc Flores, who hit a grand slam home run to put Hawaii on the board at 7-4.
The Anteaters quickly punched back in the top of the seventh, mounting a two-out, three-run rally. Renae Martinez came off the bench and worked a four-pitch walk and Munoz flared a hit to left to put runners on first and second. Paulino drove a full-count offering off the right-field wall for a double to drive in both runs and Mikey Duarte's hit up the middle scored Paulino as UCI extended its lead to 10-4.
The 'Bows battled and Adam Hurley led off the Hawaii seventh with a solo home run off reliever Jimmy Litchfield to cut UCI's lead in half and then tacked on a run in the eighth on a two-out hit from Jordan Richartz to trim the 'Eater lead to 10-6. Litchfield gave way to Matt Fielding, who plunked Hurley to load the bases. Sam Moore entered in relief and Podratz stroked an 0-1 pitch to left to drive in Flores and Richartz as Hawaii continued to close the gap at 10-8.
UCI continued to apply pressure to the UH arms. With one out, Paulino drove a 2-0 pitch to right-centerfield. Hurley gave chase and leapt into the wall in an attempt to make the catch but hit his right knee and was unable to continue with the play as Paulino came around to score for an inside-the-park home run. The inning continued as Duarte was issued a free pass and took third on a wild pitch and a throwing error by catcher Steven Pollakov. Castro cashed him in with a hit to left and Ryan Cooper followed with a single to center before Rabago was walked to load the bases. The 'Bows went to their sixth pitcher of the game in Josh Elms, whose pitch got away from Pollakov, allowing Cooper to score. Rabago would come home on a balk and Spencer was issued the ninth walk of the game before Elms would retire the final two batters.
Brock picked up his fifth win (5-2) after 5.2 innings and giving up four runs on seven hits. Moore earned his 13th save of the year after striking out one and yielding a hit in 1.1 innings.