Sloppy 'Eaters bested

Defensive breakdowns and ineffective pitching help UCI drop marathon against UC Riverside.

May 23, 2010|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — A postmortem might have been a better summary than a box score, but just as it did on multiple occasions over more than 4 1/2 hours and 457 combined pitches, the UC Irvine baseball team will live to fight another day.

But though fight was not in short supply for the Anteaters in Saturday's 15-12 loss in 12 innings to Big West Conference visitor UC Riverside, neither was an abundance of fault.

"We didn't deserve to win. [Heck] no," UCI Coach Mike Gillespie said after the No. 25-ranked Anteaters fell to 33-18, 13-7 in conference to allow Cal State Fullerton (18-3 in conference) to clinch the Big West crown. "And there is enough blame to go around."


While UCI was charged with one official error, its number of miscues, misplays and missed opportunities would be enough to produce a lengthy how-not-to video.

In the second inning alone, the Anteaters virtually gift-wrapped four runs in a display that Gillespie likened to half-inning futility of unprecedented proportions.

"It was a massive breakdown," Gillespie said of a frame in which UCI gave the Highlanders (29-20, 11-9) seven outs.

An infield pop was lost in the sun and dropped for a single to open the inning. Justin Shults followed with a ground ball inside the first-base bag that would have been an easy out, had first baseman Jeff Cusick not shuffled off the bag after holding the runner and lost his balance trying to retreat to his left to get in front of the bouncing ball.

Still, UCI looked to have salvaged an out on the Shults triple, when second baseman Casey Stevenson took right fielder Sean Madigan's throw and hit catcher Francis Larson on the fly from 150 feet away in plenty of time to get the runner trying to score from first.

But Robert Brantly, a catcher himself, used a nifty slide to avoid Larson's swipe-tag attempt to open the scoring.

The first of three Riverside home runs followed. Then, one out later, left fielder Ryan Fisher misread a catchable line drive that carried over his head for a double.

A flyout and a walk put runners on the corners with two outs and a rundown prompted by a delayed-double-steal attempt ended in an errant throw that allowed a fourth run to score.

"I've probably been there, done that, but my memory is not good enough to remember an inning that bad from one of my teams," said Gillespie, 70, in his 23rd season as a Division I coach and his 39th season as a head coach at the college level. "I just don't know what to say. It was crazy."

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