No. 16 UC Irvine Downs Bruins; Litchfield Breaks UCI Career Record
IRVINE, Calif. --- The Anteater offense rebounded from a quiet weekend by scoring 10 runs in a 10-2 win over UCLA Tuesday at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Anteaters, who posted their 35th win (35-16) and fourth straight home win.
Connor Spencer went 3 for 4 and scored three times while Taylor Sparks drove in a pair of runs on one hit. Grant Palmer and Jerry McClanahan chipped in an RBI on two hits in the effort. Senior Jimmy Litchfield pitched two shutout innings in relief to break the UC Irvine career record with his 114th appearance, passing Blair Erickson, who logged 113 from 2004-07.
Evan Manarino blanked the Bruins through four innings, limiting UCLA to two hits and an intentional walk. The junior, who did not figure in the decision, picked up the defense after two Anteater errors were committed behind him in the first two innings.
UCI loaded the bases in the first against starter Grant Dyer and pushed across a run after Jerry McClanahan was plunked by the pitch. In the second, Palmer doubled in Evan Cassolato and UCI broke the game open in the fourth, scoring four runs on triples by Chris Rabago and Taylor Sparks. Sparks would cap the inning by scoring on a wild pitch for the 6-0 lead.
The Bruins loaded the bases in the fifth with one out against Manarino and the lefty handed the ball to senior Mitch Merten. Merten induced a grounder to short for a would-be double-play but the throw from Mikey Duarte was wide of the first base bag, resulting in two UCLA runs. Merten ended the inning by bouncing out Ty Moore to first.
UCI extended the score in the sixth to 8-2, capitalizing on two UCLA errors and then took advantage of a fourth Bruin error in the seventh as the Anteaters added a pair of runs.
Merten worked 2.2 scoreless innings to earn the win and climb to 2-2.
Dyer fell to 6-5 after giving up six runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings. Trent Chatterton led the Bruins with two hits.