UCI rallies to top Virginia, 6-4

College Baseball

Hillman, Leyland, Reyes get big hits and Thurman earns relief win to force Game 3 of Super Regional on Monday.

June 12, 2011|By Barry Faulkner

Rain and the threat of lightning delayed Game 2 of the NCAA baseball super regional between host Virginia and UC Irvine for four hours and 18 minutes Sunday.

But it wasn’t until after play had resumed in the bottom of the fifth inning that the Anteaters’ offense finally displayed some voltage, as UCI twice erased deficits to claim a 6-4 victory and force a decisive game in the best-of-three series, Monday at 1 p.m. (ESPN2)

UCI (43-17), the designated home team, trailed, 3-0, midway through the fifth inning, having committed two errors that led to two unearned runs and having extended its scoreless streak against the Cavaliers (53-10), the No. 1 national seed, to 13 super regional innings.

But senior left fielder Drew Hillman’s bolt of a home run beyond the left-field grandstand with two outs in the sixth began to give the ’Eaters some juice.

“It really lifted the dugout,” UCI Coach Mike Gillespie, reached by phone in Charlottesville, said of Hillman’s team-leading sixth homer of the season, his second of the postseason to up his team-leading total to 51 runs batted in. “It electrified the dugout. This was a Dave Kingman home run. I mean, it was a gargantuan blast. This ball was crushed and the fact that it was hit so hard and so far, probably added to the electricity.”


UCI tied it in the seventh, when junior center fielder Christian Ramirez walked to start the inning off just-inserted reliever Justin Thompson and came around to score on a one-out, hit-and-run single by junior second baseman Tommy Reyes. The ball skipped on one hop through the legs of center fielder Kenny Swab for an error that allowed Reyes to get to second.

Junior catcher Ronnie Shaeffer lined the next pitch into center for an RBI single.

But Virginia brought most of the capacity crowd of 5,050 to its feet by regaining the lead after two were out against UCI freshman reliever Andrew Thurman.

Swab gained a measure of redemption when UCI right fielder Sean Madigan slipped while fielding his double toward the line, allowing Jared King, who had singled, to score from first base.

Gillespie said the run would not have scored, had Madigan not slipped on the wet grass, but UCI was faced, yet again, with a deficit.

With one out in the eighth, Hillman laced a double into the left-field corner to chase Thompson and bring on sophomore closer Branden King, who had 17 saves and had won all three of his decisions in 28 appearances in 2011.

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