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Anteaters left holding bag

UCI strands eight, including six in scoring position to come up short in home opener Monday.

February 20, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
  • UCI Irvine second baseman Dillon Moyer prepares to tag out UNLV's Trent Cook in the seventh inning of the Anteaters' home opener on Monday, Feb. 20. (Scott Smeltzer)] *** []
UCI Irvine second baseman Dillon Moyer prepares to tag… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

IRVINE — UC Irvine baseball coach Mike Gillespie said doctors are still trying to correctly diagnose what is believed to be a skin ailment sidelining senior center fielder Christian Ramirez.

And, after a frustrating 3-2 nonconference loss to UNLV in the Anteaters' home opener in front of 1,105 at Anteater Ballpark on Monday, Gillespie is hoping that the cure for what was ailing the lower half of his lineup against the Rebels can be easily prescribed.

The Anteaters (3-1), who scored five runs in each of thier three weekend victories at the Urban Invitational in Houston, left eight runners on base against the Rebels (2-2). Six of those stranded were in scoring position and three occurred when the hosts loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh inning and failed to score.

"It's frustrating," Gillespie said after venting some of that frustration verbally with his players in the traditional postgame conference in shallow left field. "I think it was a borderline-poor performance. The way we gave up those runs magnifies it. We have to win, 3-2, not lose, 3-2."

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The latter was a reference to UCI's relative lack of power this season. Of the 14 home runs hit during the 'Eaters' 43-18 campaign that ended one pitch from the College World Series in 2011, only two were hit by players on this year's roster.

And with Ramirez not in uniform, the number of trusted veteran hitters was pared to the first four spots in the batting order.

Those four seniors — Tommy Reyes, D.J. Crumlich, Jordan Fox and Ronnie Shaeffer — were a combined seven for 16 with both runs batted in and both runs scored.

The remaining five spots in the order, which included 10 players who had at least one at-bat, went a combined one for 15.

"It really does hurt us," Gillespie said of the absence of Ramirez, who exited after one at-bat in Sunday's game and received treatment at a hospital, before returning with the team flight Sunday night. "It's too bad that it does, but it's the truth. [Sunday] we had Ramirez batting fourth and Fox [both of whom are listed at 5-foot-9] batting third. If Ramirez stands on Fox's shoulders there are like, 6-0 total."

Further complicating Gillespie's offensive planning, Reyes, batting leadoff, led the team with six RBIs on the weekend to capture Big West Conference Player of the Week honors.

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