Four-Run Ninth Wins It for Anteaters

Grant Palmer drives in the game-winning run against the Aggies
Grant Palmer drives in the game-winning run against the Aggies

DAVIS, Calif. --- UC Irvine's offense was late the party but came up big with four runs in the ninth to take a 4-2 win from the Aggies in the first game of the doubleheader Saturday at Dobbins Stadium.

The Anteaters (26-14, 9-1) had been held scoreless by starter Harry Stanwyck, who pitched eight innings and left in the bottom of the ninth after giving up a leadoff walk to Chris Rabago. UC Davis handed the ball to Zach Stone and the right-hander walked Connor Spencer and then hit Taylor Sparks with the pitch to load the bases with no-outs. Jonathan Munoz drove a 2-1 pitch past Stone for what looked like would be a single but shortstop Tino Lipson timed his leap on a big hop to grab the ball out of the air and flipped it to Evan Heptig to get the force at second. Rabago scored on the play as UCI got on the board and Jerry McClanahan came up clutch with the game-tying hit to drive in Spencer. The Anteaters called on Jonathan Herkins to pinch-run for Munoz and the move paid off as the sophomore  beat the throw home on a shallow sacrifice fly to right off the bat of Grant Palmer to give UCI a 3-2 lead. Evan Cassolato, a defensive change in the eighth, singled to center to drive in McClanahan for an insurance run.  

Sam Moore was called out of the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth and the right-hander stranded two Aggies in an otherwise scoreless frame to earn his 17th save and tie the UCI single-season mark.  

The Aggies were the first to jump on the board, getting to starter to Andrew Morales in the bottom of the sixth. The right-hander gave up a one-out double to Kevin Barker and then walked Tanner Bily. Morales struck out Nick Lynch but then was tagged for consecutive two-out, RBI hits from Lipson and Adam Young as UC Davis took a 2-0 lead.

Stanwyck retired the first 11 Anteater batters before Spencer drove a pitch off the foot of the senior with the ball ricocheting into shallow right for a single. Sparks drew a 3-1 walk to extend the inning but hestruck out Munoz to keep UCI off the board.

Stanwyck got defensive support in the sixth as Rabago and Spencer mounted a rally with back-to-back hits to give put runners on first and third. Sparks hit a sinking live-drive left but Seth Batty made a diving catch to rob Sparks of an RBI hit for the final out.

Morales pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits while striking out seven in the no-decision. Matt Fielding logged an inning of one-hit relief and earned his first win of the year to improve to 1-0. Spencer had two hits for the 'Eaters while Munoz, McClanahan and Cassolato each posted an RBI on one hit.

Stanwyck held UCI to one run on eight innings while striking out six and scattering four hits in the no-decision and Stone fell to 2-3 after giving up three runs on three hits in the ninth.

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