'Eaters restore order

Batting out of order works out for UC Irvine in crucial nonconference clash against visiting UConn Tuesday night.

March 08, 2011|By Barry Faulkner,

IRVINE — There were some notable firsts in UC Irvine's important 5-4 nonconference victory over visiting Connecticut on Tuesday night.

But when something happens that Anteaters' Coach Mike Gillespie, in his fifth decade as a collegiate coach, has never seen before, rare is not strong enough a word.

The aforementioned novelty act involved a lineup miscommunication that prompted UCI to bat out of order in a two-run first inning. The switch worked out, when junior Jordan Leyland, batting fifth instead of his scripted cleanup spot, singled with the bases loaded to drive in two runs.


But when UConn failed to detect the anomaly, UCI merely shifted back into the correct order the rest of a game that came down to the 'Eaters' final at-bat.

Fifth-year senior Sean Madigan doubled in Drew Hillman (who initiated the batting-out-of-order snafu, but doubled to lead off the ninth in his correct No. 5 spot) with no outs in the eighth to break a 4-4 tie.

Madigan's RBI double helped freshman pitcher Phil Ferragamo record his first collegiate win. It also set up senior Brian Hernandez's first career save.

Hernandez, who started the game at third base and made a couple diving stabs of ground balls that turned into outs, worked a scoreless ninth to help UCI, ranked as high as No. 18 (USA TODAY/ESPN poll) improve to 9-1.

UConn (5-5) came in ranked No. 19 by Baseball America. And with a schedule not loaded with heralded programs outside of Southern California, the win could pay off for UCI when it comes time to hand out NCAA Regional berths.

"It was a really good win that has long-range ramifications," Gillespie said.

"It's a difference-maker perhaps, down the road. So it's good for a lot of reasons, important reasons."

Every big hit, defensive play and pitch turned out to be crucial for the 'Eaters, but there was none bigger than a defensive play that helped limit a Connecticut rally in the eighth.

The Huskies singled and drew a walk off reliever Andy Lines and a fielder's choice force at second put runners on the corners.

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