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Pitching leads to split

College Baseball

UCI, blanked in opener, rebounds to nearly do the same to the host Lions in Game 2 as the series concludes.

March 19, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com

LOS ANGELES — It was the UC Irvine hitters who came in salivating about the prospect of playing an impromptu nonconference baseball doubleheader at Loyola Marymount on Saturday.

But pitching — on both sides — stole the show in a split that nearly made history at hitter-friendly Page Field.

In its previous four games at LMU before Saturday, UCI had bashed 76 hits and scored 61 runs, including a 19-8 win in 2009 that featured 21 hits, and a 26-hit effort in an 18-1 triumph in 2008.

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But the Anteaters, ranked No, 14 in the USA Today/ESPN poll, managed only three hits in the opener against LMU right-hander Alex Gillingham, who struck out 11 in a 4-0 complete-game victory.

Four UCI pitchers combined to flirt with a shutout in Game 2, before settling for a 4-1 win that upped the Anteaters' record to 14-2. The two schools elected Saturday morning to play a pair, when a forecast of rain Sunday threatened the scheduled series finale.

Sophomore Andy Lines threw five shutout innings in Game 2 to win his first start of the season for UCI, for whom Nick Hoover (2 1/3 innings) and Jimmy Litchfield (1 2/3) also avoided allowing a run.

Lines, who started once in 20 appearances and went 1-1 as a freshman, struck out five after UCI saw its six-game winning streak halted in the opener.

Lines, a left-hander, said he was told he would be starting Game 2 in the eighth inning of Game 1.

"I think it was just enough time to stretch and get prepared, but not enough for me to think too much about it," said Lines, who has a 1.54 earned-run average in 11 2/3 innings this season. "I found out at 11 a.m. the day of my first start last year against UCLA and I think I let it get to me. I was just a little immature about it. Right away, I was throwing balls and I don't think I had the confidence really to just go after [the Bruins]. [Saturday] was better."

UCI was denied the shutout — which would have marked the first time both games of a doubleheader at the 28-year-old ballpark had featured a shutout — when the Lions used three straight hits against Matt Whitehouse to score in the eighth.

Freshman Andrew Thurman took the loss in the opener, allowing three runs (two earned), and seven hits in four innings. Freshman Phil Ferragamo gave up one run on four hits in four strong relief innings.

LMU (13-8) had 11 hits in the opener and finished with nine in the second game, in which UCI pitchers struck out eight and did not issue a walk.

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