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'Eaters claim opener

College Baseball

Ramirez's four hits help UCI halt offensive funk, top visiting Matadors to open Big West play.

April 02, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com

IRVINE — The UC Irvine baseball team broke from the Big West Conference gate by breaking out of an offensive slump in a 9-6 victory over Cal State Northridge Friday night at Anteater Ballpark.

The Anteaters did not, however, break from form, as they improved to 11-0 at home this season, which is a school record to open the season.

Junior center fielder Christian Ramirez , a community college transfer who came into the game six for 35 in his Division I career, was four for four with a walk, a triple and a double to pace a 15-hit attack for the winners (16-6, 1-0 in conference).

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UCI, ranked No, 19 in the USA Today/ESPN poll, had been struggling offensively, managing just 24 hits and five runs in its previous four games, including a 4-0 nonconference win Tuesday at USC.

Five Anteaters had at least two hits. Senior right fielder Sean Madigan went three for five with two runs batted in and junior catcher Ronnie Shaeffer was two for four with two RBIs.

Junior first baseman Jordan Fox was two for three and senior third baseman Brian Hernandez was two for five for UCI.

Hernandez also pitched a scoreless ninth inning to record his fifth save, securing the win credited to starter Matt Summers. Summers allowed three earned runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked five and struck out two.

A six-run fifth inning erased a 2-0 deficit for the 'Eaters, who had six hits in the frame, all in the span of seven hitters.

Fox and Hernandez singled to open the inning. After a flyout, junior designated hitter Jordan Leyland drove in a run with a single, as did Madigan. Shaeffer then yanked a two-run double inside the third-base bag and Ramirez's fly ball bounced under a diving attempt by the right fielder, allowing him to race all the way to third.

UCI led, 7-3, into the eighth, but a three-run home run by Drew Muren drew the Matadors (14-12, 0-1) within one run.

UCI, which left 12 runners on base, cashed in a pair of Northridge errors, two walks and a Madigan RBI single for two insurance runs in the eighth.

Hernandez, who had gone nearly three weeks without a save, issued two one-out walks and a single to load the bases. But he struck out Adam Barry looking and induced a weak comebacker for the final out, allowing UCI to win their second straight, following a four-game losing streak.

Hernandez, who had not pitched since high school, has now failed to allow an earned run in 12 innings.

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