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Anteaters hitters share success

Seven UC Irvine players have at least two hits or two RBIs to help post biggest victory margin of the season.

March 22, 2010|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — UC Irvine baseball coach Mike Gillespie said Anteaters hitters have, for the most part, been taking turns in the spotlight this season, with the hero label shifting up and down the lineup.

Saturday against nonconference visitor Gonzaga, however, a wide-angle spotlight was needed to acknowledge all the hitting stars in a 13-1 triumph that extended the No. 15-ranked ’Eaters’ winning streak to a season-best five games.

Seven UCI batsmen either had at least two hits or two runs batted in to help senior starter Christian Bergman cruise to his second win in his last two starts.

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Bergman, who was staked to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, allowed three hits and one run in six innings. He walked three and struck out seven. In his last two starts, he has worked 15 innings, allowing 10 hits and four earned runs, lowering his earned-run average from 8.22 to 5.34.

But offense upstaged pitching as the story of the day for UCI (12-6), which posted its biggest margin of victory all season and raised its team batting average 10 points to .317.

“There was a lot to like about this day,” said Gillespie, who while encouraged by the 17 hits that included five doubles, was also pleased with some effective bunting.

“There was some execution and little things,” Gillespie said. “We got two [sacrifice] bunts down in the first inning and Casey [Stevenson] had a nice push bunt [for a single to help key a five-run fifth].”

UCI scored five in the fifth and the sixth innings, allowing Gillespie to give Bergman the rest of the day off after only 98 pitches.

Junior left fielder Drew Hillman had a two-run single in the fifth and a two-run double in the sixth. The Orange Coast College transfer, who came in hitting .182 in 33 at-bats, finished two for four with four RBIs to raise his average 34 points. He now has nine RBIs this season.

“Hillman did a couple of good things,” Gillespie said. “What was really good to see was that he took a couple of pitches that weren’t hittable.”

Larson, one of four regulars who came in hitting less than .300, was three for five with three RBIs, while sophomore designated hitter Ronnie Shaeffer went two for three with two RBIs.

Larson lifted his average 24 points to .290, while Shaeffer, a freshman All-American last season when he batted .388, hiked his average 21 points to .309.

Stevenson was two for four with three runs to up his average 15 points to .286.

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