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Bibona keys UCI triumph

BASEBALL: With relief help, he avenges Friday loss in crucial Big West victory that puts second place within reach.

May 19, 2008

DAVIS — The UC Irvine baseball team can finish as high as second in the Big West Conference after topping host UC Davis, 5-3, Sunday to claim the Big West series, two games to one.

The victory helped the No. 12-ranked Anteaters (36-13, 12-9 in conference) move past UC Davis (32-21, 11-10) and catch UC Riverside in a fourth-place tie, with three conference games remaining.

With a sweep against UC Santa Barbara (13-8 in conference) in a three-game series that begins Friday at Anteater Ballpark, UCI would be no worse than tied for third with Riverside.

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But, should conference-leading Cal State Fullerton (15-6 in conference) win at least two from Long Beach State (14-7) in their regular-season-ending series beginning Friday at Blair Field, or should Long Beach sweep the Titans, UCI, with three more wins, would finish in a second-place tie, just as it did last season. If Long Beach State wins two against Fullerton, UCI could do no better than third.

The Anteaters overcame more than the Aggies Sunday, as sophomore starting pitcher Bryce Stowell was once again unavailable after suffering from food poisoning.

Stowell did not make his scheduled start Saturday and was unable to answer the bell Sunday, as sophomore left-hander Danny Bibona wound up pitching into the seventh to earn his seventh win in 10 decisions.

Junior designated hitter Brock Bardeen singled in a run in the first and sophomore right fielder Sean Madigan drove in two more with a single to give UCI a lead it never relinquished.

After UC Davis scored a run in the third, senior catcher Aaron Lowenstein singled in a run in the fourth to push the UCI lead to 4-1.

UCI upped the advantage in the seventh, when junior center fielder Ollie Linton, who had walked to start the frame and reached second on Casey Stevenson’s sacrifice bunt, scored on a throwing error by the Davis first baseman.

Bibona, who allowed two runs on two hits in two-thirds of an inning in relief to take the loss in Friday’s 3-1 setback, scattered 12 Davis hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking none.

Sophomore Christian Bergman came on to get the final out of the eighth and sophomore closer Eric Pettis worked a scoreless ninth to earn his 14th save. Only NCAA career saves leader Blair Erickson has more saves in one season in Anteater annals (17 in 2004).

Bardeen and junior third baseman Eric Deragisch were each two for four to lead the ’Eaters six-hit attack. Bardeen also stole a base.

Big West Conference

UC Irvine 5, UC Davis 3

SCORE BY INNINGS

Bibona, Bergman (7), Pettis (9) and Lowenstein; Evans, Fox (7), McChesney (9) and Jefferies. W – Bibona, 7-3. L – Evans, 3-3. Sv – Pettis (14). 2B – Mihaylo (UCD), Scoma (UCD) 2.


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