'Eaters Begin Nine-Game Homestand with Trojans, Cougars

'Eaters Begin Nine-Game Homestand with Trojans, Cougars

UPCOMING OPPONENTS

Game Notes | Game Program

USC Trojans at UC Irvine Anteaters
Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark (3,408) - Irvine, Calif.

Tuesday, March 21 - 6:30 PM
Postponed due to rain - game will be made up Monday, April 17

Houston Cougars at UC Irvine Anteaters
Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark (3,408) - Irvine, Calif.

Friday, March 24 - 6:30 PM
RHP Jordan Bocko (0-1, 4.91) vs. LHP Seth Romero (3-2, 2.53)
Live Stats | KUCI Radio | Tickets

Saturday, March 25 - 2:00 PM
RHP Louis Raymond (3-1, 4.74) vs. RHP Mitch Ullom (2-2, 2.93)
Live Stats | Radio (Internet Only) | Tickets

Sunday,  March 26 - 12:00 PM
RHP Cole Spear (2-1, 5.23) vs. LHP John King (3-0, 2.10)
Live Stats | KUCI Radio | Tickets

 

Broadcast Information

Radio

KUCI 88.9 FM with Mark Roberts and Tim Becwar (Tuesday, Friday and Sunday). All games also available live on the internet at kuci.org.

Live Stats

Live stats are available for every Anteater baseball game through ucirvinesports.com and the UCI Sports Front Row app.

LAST WEEK RECAP

+ UC Irvine won midweek and split a doubleheader in a waterlogged week along the West Coast.

+ The 'Eaters held off a fighting UCLA Bruin squad thanks to a clutch, two-run, two-out single from Evan Cassolato. Alex Guenette posted his first career three-hit game, and the pitching staff struck out 13 hitters in the 5-3 victory.

+ UCI tripped up to Seattle for a three-game set with the Redhawks. Friday and Saturday's games fell victim to rain and cut the series down to a two games played on Sunday.

+ UCI took game one of the doubleheader as Alex Guenette was the catalyst again mashing his first career HR, and Adam Alcantara provided a go-ahead RBI double in the ninth for a 3-2 win.

+ Seattle U salvaged a split on the day scoring two runs in four different innings dropping the Anteaters, 8-2. Michael Martin was effective striking out three in 3.2 innings of relief.

WHO SHOWED OUT

+ The 'Eaters got marvelous pitching performances over the last week led by junior Louis Raymond who threw 78 pitches over six innings. He allowed two baserunners before departing that came around to score tagging him with a no decision, but he did not walk a Redhawk while striking out a season-high six batters.

+ The starting rotation has held its own despite a lack in experience. Every starter this season entered the year with two career starts or fewer; Chris Vargas made his third career start, Sean Sparling and Jordan Bocko each made their second, and the remaining four each made their starting debuts.

Calvin Faucher continues to sit atop the nation's top closers. He retired all eight batters he faced on the week striking out four en route to a pair of saves giving him eight on the year that's tied for the most in the NCAA.

+ The Anteater defense continued to climb up the charts committing just one error last week standing as one of five schools with 10 or fewer errors on the season. UC Irvine's fielding percentage of 0.984 is the fourth-best in the nation.

+ The offense cooled off slightly with 10 runs over three games, but Alex Guenette caught fire going 5-for-9 with his first career three-hit game and first career HR.

Evan Cassolato kept on his way going 5-for-11 last week with a pair of RBI. He leads the Big West in hits per game (1.71) and batting average (.446) while leading the team in both categories along with hits, runs, triples, and multi-hit games.

Keston Hiura is still hitting among the best in the nation, tied for first in doubles and third in slugging. He had a 13-game hit streak snapped in game one on Sunday, but still has a 17-game on-base streak intact. He's had streaks of five games with an RBI and seven with a run as high-mark for the team this year. The junior also leads in multi-RBI games (7), multi-run games (6), multi-walk games (4), and has a hit in his last seven home games.

Adrian Damla had hits in all three games this week now with hits in six straight. He's reached base in 12 straight games, in 13 of his 14 games played, and his hits in 11 of them.

WE CAN BE HIURAS

+ Baseball America's most recent mock draft release slotted Keston Hiura to go 10th overall in the upcoming MLB Draft. A fellow Anteater in incoming freshman Royce Lewis was also projected in the top 10 at No. 3 overall.

Keston Hiura ranks among the top 30 nationally in doubles (T1st), slugging (3rd), on-base percentage (23rd), batting average (28th), and total bases (30th). He is the leader in the Big West in five different offensive categories.

+ Hiura earned the spotlight early on being named to five Preseason All-American lists from publications such as Baseball American, the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association, D1Baseball.com, Collegiate Baseball News, and Perfect Game USA. He received Preseason All-American status by three publications heading into his sophomore season.

+ Hiura's most recent accolade was a return to the Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List for the second year in a row. USA Baseball's list of 55 players also includes two high school players, one of which is Royce Lewis who signed his NLI to UCI back in November. Hiura was named to the Golden Spikes Award Midseason and Preseason Watch Lists in 2016.

+ He spent the summer with the U.S. Collegiate National Team on their global trip to play national teams in Taiwan, Japan, and Cuba. Hiura hit .289 hitting three homers and driving in six including a go-ahead HR in Cuba to give the team its first-ever series win at Cuba

+ In 123 career games, Hiura has failed to reach base just eight times while producing 171 hits, 41 doubles, 19 HR, and 113 RBIs. He recently became the 23rd Anteater all-time to drive in 100 career RBI, is currently fourth in program history in HR, and second in slugging.

+ Hiura was named Big West Freshman Field Player of the Year, a first for the program, and made the All-West Region team, the third straight season an Anteater made it, following a 2015 campaign where he landed near the top of many Anteater freshman records including second in doubles (18), hits (75), and at-bats (227) while setting new marks with seven home runs and 52 RBIs.

INJURY REPORT

+ Hiura's arm issues have drawn the interest of many in the college and professional ranks alike. Baseball America's John Manuel wrote of it prior to the season, and Aaron Fitt touched on it early this season about Hiura's offseason dealing with a partial tear in his elbow. Hiura was completely shut down for a majority of it, and underwent platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment in January to aid in the recovery. For now, he will be limited to DH duty early in the season while the progress of his arm is monitored.

Devin Pettengill did not see any action over the weekend nursing a hamstring injury, but is active and should return this week

+ The bullpen will be without the services of left-hander Dylan Riddle in 2017 as he recovers from a fractured collarbone.

Cameron Bishop has yet to play in 2017 dealing with an oblique issue. He is scheduled to begin throwing again this week.

PRESEASON PATROL

+ The Anteaters were picked to finish in fifth place in the Big West, the lowest preseason projection under Head Coach Mike Gillespie

+ Every season that UCI has been projected to finish worse than second, it has finished higher (2008, 2014, 2015)

+ The Anteaters received one first-place vote, the other eight went to projected champion Cal State Fullerton. UCI has received at least one first-place vote in five of the last six seasons

+ Gillespie claims the toughest schedule they've put together in his 10 seasons at the helm. UCI's opponents boast an overall winning percentage of .524 from last season

+ UCI's non-conference schedule includes the unanimous preseason No. 1 program in TCU along with Seattle, San Diego, all chosen to win their respective conferences, and Houston, picked for second.

RANKED GRAVEYARD

+ The Anteaters are now 8-2 in Anteater Ballpark against non-conference ranked opponents winning two of three against No. 1 TCU this year and No. 25 Cal in 2006, and earning sweeps of No. 23 Baylor in 2013 and No. 8 Washington in 2005.

+ Since Head Coach Mike Gillespie took over in 2008, UCI has played 100 games against ranked opponents, 78 coming during the regular season, and the 'Eaters have won 46 of those games.

+ Anteater Ballpark specifically has seen UCI go 23-14 against ranked squads and 3-3 against No. 1 teams.

USC TROJANS

UCI and USC renew their matchup that has occurred in every Anteater season since 1984 with the two schools splitting in 2016 winning at each other's home. The Trojans have 12 wins over teams like UCLA, SDSU, LBSU, Duke, and Wake Forest, and most recently took two of three from Washington State.

Tuesday's game will pit two of the top four defenses in the nation (USC - 2nd, UCI - 4th). USC is third in the NCAA in sac flies. Lars Nootbaar (4 HR, 18 RBI) provides the power with Brandon Perez (.359) and Frankie Rios (.328) setting the table. RHP CJ Stubbs starts, he allowed 2 ER over 4 IP vs. UCI last year.

HOUSTON COUGARS

Houston came excruciatingly close to the postseason in 2016 falling in the AAC title game and just missing an at-large spot with a 36-23 record. They led the nation striking out 4.17 batters for every 1 walk and were second only to Cal State Fullerton in WHIP (1.05) and ERA (2.48).

The Cougars have continued their stellar pitching so far in 2017; fifth in the nation with a 2.21 ERA. They top the NCAA with a 4.56 K-to-BB ratio, and issue an NCAA-low 1.92 walks per game. At the forefront of that is lefty Seth Romero, projected to be a first-round draft pick, that leads the nation with 57 strikeouts getting at least 10 in each of his starts this season. John King and Mitch Ullom follow suit King has as many walks (2) as complete games (2) and Ullom's ERA of 2.93 is the highest of the three. The bullpen hasn't wavered either with a 1.96 ERA and 15 walks in 46 innings. Altogether, opponents are batting .236 vs. UH, just under eight hits per game.

The offense is no slouch hitting .290. Jake Scheiner is hitting .456, 8th in the nation, along with 8 HR, and his .941 slugging percentage is 1 of 2 marks better that Keston Hiura's. Catcher Connor Wong has eight extra-base hits, 20 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases. Jake Triolo has struck out just four times in 73 plate appearances. UH has multiple ways to win games, and are looking for revenge on an Anteater program that has won the last five meetings dating back to 2006.

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