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College Baseball: 'Eaters win for starters

UCI moves into sole possession of third place behind Thurman's four-hitter.

May 10, 2013|By Barry Faulkner
(KEVIN CHANG / Daily…)

IRVINE — The first cut has, in fact, been deep enough to propel the UC Irvine baseball team into the upper echelon of the Big West Conference in recent years.

After junior Andrew Thurman threw a complete-game four-hitter to fuel a 7-1 victory over visiting Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the first of a three-game series between Big West teams that came in tied for third place, UCI is hoping the same holds true this spring.

The Anteaters (30-15, 12-7 in conference) moved into sole possession of third, one game behind second-place Cal State Northridge, as the offense backed Thurman with 14 hits for a commanding triumph that pleased Coach Mike Gillespie to no end.

UCI also upped its record in conference series openers to 36-3 since it dropped the final two series debuts in 2008. This season, UCI is 6-1 in conference series openers, best in the Big West.

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"Clearly it was our best performance [of the season], all things considered," Gillespie said. "[The Mustangs (32-15, 11-8)] are good, their [starting pitcher Joey Wagman] has been good and Thurman was really good. We had quality at-bats up and down the lineup. It was a good night for us."

Thurman allowed back-to-back doubles in the second inning as the Mustangs posted their lone run. From then on, the visitors managed only two hits and Thurman faced the minimum after a one-out double in the fourth, en route to his second complete game. Thurman, now 5-3, struck out seven and did not issue a walk to trim his earned-run average to 2.98.

"Basically, I try to go out and set the tone for the series," Thurman, projected to go as high as the second round in next month's Major League draft, said. "Cal Poly is a good club, so it was good to take this one from them."

Gillespie said Thurman's command of his changeup helped him turn in a performance that was, well, commanding. And Thurman agreed.

"The changeup has been up and down this year, but tonight I definitely had it and was able to use it well," said Thurman, who helped pin Wagman with only his third loss in 13 decisions. "I used it in pretty much any count, to any hitter, left-handed or right-handed, so it helped a lot tonight."

Now, UCI will hope to change up a trend of losing the second game of a conference series when the two teams play again Saturday at 1 p.m.

UCI is 2-4 in Game 2 against Big West foes this season, then 4-2 in conference series finales, the latter thanks largely to the pitching of junior Andrew Morales, who is 9-0.

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