IRVINE, Calif. --- Four hours and 57 minutes and deep into the 14th inning is how long it took until UC Irvine and San Diego decided a winner as the Toreros punched across four runs for the 5-1 victory in a game that featured a record number of strikeouts and a dramatic home run with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth to send it into extra innings.
The pitching took center stage on the night as each team's starter worked wonderfully through four innings. Chris Vargas retired his first 13 hitters before a one-out walk in the fifth. The first hit he gave up would be an RBI single right under his glove that game the Toreros a 1-0 lead halfway through the game.
The Anteaters hitters could not figure out Sean Barry who allowed one hit in his four innings of work, and reliever Troy Conyers matched him allowing just two hits and struck out eight, even retiring 13 straight batters of his own leaving the Anteaters (17-29, 4-11) just one out to work with.
Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped up and promptly got two strikes on him. With the count full, Fitzpatrick laced a sinking line drive toward the left field foul pole that wrapped around the inside of it for a solo home run to tie the game, 1-1, with two outs in the ninth inning.
The teams jockeyed back and forth putting runners into scoring position multiple times. The 'Eaters had a two-strike squeeze attempt fail on a bunt attempt foul, and had a runner thrown out at third base on a sacrifice bunt attempt. USD had a runner on second with less than two outs twice in the extra frames, but were turned away in each occasion.
Toreros reliever Jonathan Teaney was forced to hit in the 14th inning after the designated hitter was put into catch the inning before, but Teaney drew a four-pitch walk to start the USD rally as he plated the go-ahead run and sparked a four-run inning for the visitors off Kaz Akamatsu to lead 5-1.
The Anteaters got a runner on in the bottom half, but did not threaten ending the ballgame just before 11:30 p.m.
The 4-hour, 57-minute affair is officially the longest baseball game in Anteater Ballpark eclipsing a 4:50 game that ended the 2002 season. Overall, the game is the fifth longest in program history with the other four games all surpassing five hours and being played on the road.
A record amount of strikeouts were collected by pitchers on the evening. Each squad rung up 18 batters in the game marking new program highs on each side of the ball for UCI. Previous, the most Anteaters struck out were 16, as was the highest total of strikeouts Anteater pitchers had ever recorded.
Anteater hitters managed just six hits on the night with Ryan Fitzpatrick registering the only multi-hit game going 2-for-5 with his solo HR. Twelve different Anteaters struck out in the game with six of them going down multiple times. Keston Hiura reached via a walk and HBP, but was hitless in four official at-bats dropping his average to .405.
USD got a four-hit night from Jeff Houghtby which included two RBI and a run scored. Brhet Bewley's RBI single in the 14th proved to be the winner snapping his 0-for-5 night prior to it. Noah Prewett entered as a defensive sub in the eighth and walked away with a 3-for-3 night with two doubles and two RBI. USD still left 17 runners on base.
Jonathan Teaney scored his third win of the season while scoring the winning run. Kaz Akamatsu fell to 0-2, but recorded a career high four strikeouts. Vargas also hit a career high with six strikeouts, and Calvin Faucher matched him tying his career high while tossing three scoreless innings.
This marks the second time in 11 days the 'Eaters have reached the 14th inning. It's also only the second game in Anteater Ballpark to reach the 14th joining the 15-inning marathon back in 2006.
UCI won't have much time to think about it as it hops on a plane Thursday to head to Hawai'i. It begins a three-game set on Friday before a day off Saturday and picking up Sunday and finishing the series Monday. The game will be broadcasted on KUCI 88.9 on Sunday and Monday, and OC Sports will live stream those games as well with the link to be found on ucirvinesports.com.