'Eaters change it up

Altered lineup proves effective for UCI, which edges Cal State Bakersfield and is 2-2.

February 20, 2014|By Barry Faulkner

When Mike Gillespie paces to the mound, or strolls across the diamond to discuss a call with an umpire, there is an ever-so-slight limp, the residue of an Achilles injury he said he will just have to endure, due to concerns about someone his age undergoing surgery.

But his age, 72, notwithstanding, the UC Irvine baseball head man is determined to operate daily on his lineup card, in an effort to maximize his team's chances at victory.

There was plenty of tinkering Wednesday and the result was a 3-2 triumph over Cal State Bakersfield in a nonconference game at Anteater Ballpark.


Sophomore Grant Palmer was shifted to the leadoff spot, while junior Justin Castro joined the starters and freshman Andrew Martinez stepped into the designated hitter role for his first action of the season.

Palmer, who hit .220 in 82 at-bats in 2013, had a pair of hits, drove in a run and scored another to help junior starter Evan Manarino cash in a strong six innings for his first collegiate victory. Palmer is now six for 12 this season.

Castro, who was three for six coming in, singled and scored in the second inning and, according to Gillespie, has earned more playing time than expected in center field.

"Palmer [who started in left field], was a going to have to play, because he kind of hit his way into that," Gillespie said. "But Castro [who hit .235 in just 17 at-bats last season] has really taken advantage [of his opportunity after freshman Evan Cassolato opened the season one for seven]. Castro was more of a see-how-it-goes-tonight kind of deal."

Manarino, who struck out nine, allowed six hits and did not walk a batter, saw it go as smoothly as needed against the Roadrunners (3-2). He surrendered only one earned run and stranded runners at third (in the third and sixth innings) and second (in the third and fourth innings). The Saddleback College transfer had six strikeouts through four innings and threw 98 pitches before exiting.

Junior Sam Moore, who worked the final two innings to record the save in Sunday's 1-0 win over Fresno State, took over for Michael Martin with one out in the seventh. He worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings to get his second collegiate save in as many games.

UCI managed just six hits and one earned run off of Bakersfield starter Taylor Aikenhead (six strikeouts and 110 pitches in seven innings) and Sergio Luna. But it was good enough to gain a second straight win and even its record at 2-2.

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