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College Baseball: 'Eaters fall to Toreros

USD All-American Bryant belts 30th home run of season to help lift visitors to nonconference win.

May 16, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — It was a loss about which UC Irvine baseball coach Mike Gillespie wanted to be anything but trivial.

But nothing less than a bit of baseball lore that unfolded at Anteater Ballpark on Wednesday may have upstaged the consequences of the Anteaters' 7-3 nonconference loss to visiting San Diego.

San Diego junior third baseman Kris Bryant launched his NCAA-leading 30th home run of the season in the second inning to conclude his regular-season with seven homers in his last six games. His 30 homers tie the NCAA single-season record since BBCOR composite bats, that all agree minimize power, were put into play in 2011. The 30 dingers also surpass the total hit by UCI as a team in the last two seasons combined (27).

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Further, Bryant, projected to be selected with one of the first three picks in the Major League Draft in June, upped his season totals to 61 runs batted in, 72 runs scored and 45 extra-base hits among his 67 hits. He has 57 walks and 37 strikeouts entering the West Coast Conference Tournament.

"He is special," said Gillespie, who is in is 26th season of Division I coaching. "I don't know if I've seen another guy who was that impressive, and that's a lot of guys and a lot of good players over the years.

"The numbers are video-game numbers that are just staggering," Gillespie said. "He is just spectacular. It's really believable to me that he is in the big leagues as soon as this summer, depending on who takes him."

Bryant, who hit in the leadoff spot for the 12th time this season – part of Toreros Coach Rich Hill's ploy to allow opposing teams at least one chance to pitch to Bryant with no one on base, while also maximizing his potential at-bats – has 13 RBIs in the last six games. His production has helped USD (32-22) score 75 runs in its last six games, including double-figures in each of the previous five before Wednesday.

The Toreros scored four in the first inning off UCI starter Kyle Hooper, who yielded the Bryant homer over the left-field fence before exiting. Hooper allowed eight hits and five runs, all earned, over 1 2/3 innings.

Hooper fanned Bryant looking to open the game and UCI's Race Parmenter retired him on strikes in the eighth to help limit Bryant to a one-for-five performance.

Junior Mitch Merten led a handful of UCI relievers who had success, but the Anteaters (31-17) could not muster more than six hits off three USD hurlers.

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