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College Baseball: 'Eaters errors costly

Miscues allow visiting Mustangs to score two unearned runs to drop UCI into three-way tie for third.

May 11, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — Perhaps it was a case of retrospective remorse. For, one day after it stole home in a 7-1 victory over visiting Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the UC Irvine baseball team appeared intent on giving back.

In any event, three UCI errors led to a pair of unearned runs in a 4-3 setback on Saturday that evened the crucial Big West Conference series at one game apiece.

A bobbled bunt in the first inning helped the Mustangs (33-15, 12-8 in conference) plate an unearned run in a two-run rally. In the top of the sixth, the visitors benefited from two throwing errors to push across another unearned run in a two-run rally that proved to be just enough.

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UCI (30-16, 12-8) rallied for three runs in the sixth, and left the bases loaded in the eighth to fall short and fall back into a tie for third place with the Mustangs and UC Santa Barbara, which beat second-place Cal State Northridge on Saturday for the second day in a row.

UCI Coach Mike Gillespie has said his team needs to finish in the top three in conference to have a chance at an NCAA Regional berth, which makes Sunday's rubber game a pivotal contest for the Anteaters, ranked No. 23 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Assn. and by USA Today/ESPN.

Cal Poly is ranked No. 22 by the baseball writers and Collegiate Baseball, and is No. 24 in the USA Today/ESPN poll. According to Boyd's World, a website that calculates RPI, Cal Poly has an RPI of 37, followed by UCSB (64), UCI (71) and Cal State Northridge (77).

The defensive miscues Saturday give UCI eight errors in its last four games, three of which have been losses. In its lone win during that stretch — on Friday — the 'Eaters, who once led the country in fielding percentage, did not have an error.

"We were teasing ourselves for a long time, maybe 25 or 28 games, when we were playing this lights-out defense," said Gillespie, whose team entered the week ranked fifth nationally with a .981 fielding percentage (now .980). "These [Saturday errors] were not your traditional kick-it, or throw-it-away things. But it's on the short list of cardinal sins at all levels of baseball to not get an out on a bunt. So, that's a killer."

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