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Trojans hold off 'Eaters

College Baseball

UCI drops nonconference game to halt five-game winning streak and lose momentum heading into Big West opener.

March 29, 2012|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — It was too little too late on two accounts Wednesday for the UC Irvine baseball team, which lost a nonconference game to visiting USC, 5-4, to halt a five-game winning streak.

The Anteaters (14-9), who had scored in their final at-bat to win two games during the streak, were shut down in the final two innings against the Trojans (15-8).

In addition, the last three spots in the UCI batting order went a combined zero for 12.

USC, which came in having lost five of its previous seven, scored three in the third to erase a 2-0 deficit. The Trojans then added two in the sixth, with the aid of a leadoff walk and an error.

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UCI came in with a three-game errorless streak, a notable accomplishment since it played only four of its first 19 contests without an error, But a misplayed ground ball by senior second baseman Tommy Reyes led to the deciding run. Reyes' error came after Phil Ferragamo walked Matt Foat to start the sixth. Both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt and scored on back-to-back singles by Jake Hernandez and Dante Flores.

Flores was part of a lower third of the USC batting order that was five for 11 with two RBIs, including the game-winner.

Senior Martin Viramontes worked the final two innings to record his third save in a game that featured 13 pitchers. Viramontes retired the first five he faced, before freshman Connor Spencer whacked a single up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Justin Castro pinch-ran for Spencer and stole second on a 3-1 pitch when the throw to second that appeared to beat him was dropped.

But junior Jeff Stephens, who singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, grounded to second base to drop UCI to 4-4 in one-run games.

UCI had won three one-run decisions during the streak, which also included a season-high-tying 17 runs to cap a three-game sweep of Dartmouth on Saturday.

The Anteaters managed eight hits Wednesday, including two each by Spencer and senior center fielder Christian Ramirez.

A single by Reyes and a triple by senior first baseman Jordan Fox produced the game's first run in the UCI first. Fox later scored on an infield error. The Trojans used four hits, including an RBI triple by No. 9 hitter Garrett Houts and a two-run home run by Garrett Stubbs, his first of the season, to gain the lead in the third.

Two errors on the same play allowed UCI to score in the fifth and Ramirez's two-out triple in the seventh plated Stephens, who had singled before him, to pull UCI within 5-4.

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