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Slaught helps 'Eaters complete sweep

UCI baseball finishes off Nevada behind return of junior pitcher.

February 21, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com

IRVINE — Crosby Slaught picked up right where he left off, sort of. There was, of course, the little matter of a two-year absence from the UC Irvine baseball team's starting rotation.

But the junior right-hander, who was 8-0 as a sophomore Sunday starter in 2009 but redshirted last season with an injured tendon in his pitching arm, blanked visiting Nevada for five innings and gave up just one run in 62/3 innings to record the nonconference victory Sunday at Anteater Ballpark.

Slaught induced 11 groundouts, while striking out one, walking three and hitting two others, and the UCI offense continued its strong start to secure the 7-1 triumph, which completed a series sweep.

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"I definitely had some excitement that I haven't had in a while," said Slaught, who threw 58 strikes in 95 pitches. "I think they had guys on base most of the game, but I was able to get a lot of ground balls and the defense was great behind me."

Slaught said a newly developed cutter helped create the high number of ground balls, one of which was an inning-ending double play in the fifth.

UCI, which had 14 hits to up its series total to 48, scored three in the first to stake Slaught to all he would need.

Matt Whitehouse and Brian Hernandez combined for 21/3 scoreless relief innings for the winners.

Hernandez was also the offensive leader, posting a pair of doubles in four at-bats and driving in three runs.

Sean Madigan was three for four, while Jordan Fox, Drew Hillman, Tommy Reyes and Jordan Leyland also had two hits apiece for the 'Eaters (3-0).

Hillman had two RBIs, while Fox, Leyland and Christian Ramirez had one RBI apiece. Ramirez drove in his run with a squeeze bunt in the fifth that upped the lead to 5-0.

UCI did not commit an error.

"I think, all in all, it was a good weekend," UCI Coach Mike Gillespie said. I thought we played well and I thought we pitched well, for the most part. I was really happy for Crosby Slaught. We all know [me missed last season, working 21/3 scoreless relief innings before being shut down and being granted a medical redshirt]. "I think his cutter and his changeup were working for him today. He has to pitch off those two pitches."

His teammates were also bolstered by Slaught's return.

"For not pitching in a year and a half, he was amazing," Hernandez said of the staff's lone experienced starter.

"Crosby came up big and definitely set the tone for us," said Fox, whose .538 batting average (seven for 13) and eight RBIs in the series helped him earn Big West Conference Player of the Week recognition.

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