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'Eaters throw one away

College Baseball

Pepperdine benefits from UCI hospitality to claim nonconference triumph Tuesday.

April 01, 2014|By Barry Faulkner

MALIBU — Compensation for college athletes is a hot topic lately, but most agree nothing should be accepted without being earned.

The Pepperdine baseball team, however, received a collective bargain of two unearned runs to help beat visiting UC Irvine, 4-3, in a nonconference game Tuesday.

Two errant pickoff throws, one to first base by starting pitcher Evan Marino, and another to third from catcher Jerry McClanahan, led to a pair of "freebies" to help the Waves (21-7) prevail on a day when they produced half as many hits as the Anteaters.

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UCI rapped out 10 hits by eight different players and had baserunners in all but two innings, while four Anteaters pitchers allowed just five combined hits, faced the minimum in four innings, and did not allow any two-out hits.

But UCI (18-10) reached the halfway point in its regular season with one of its most upsetting losses firmly stuck in its collective craw.

Not the least of those bristling was Coach Mike Gillespie, whose team will take a two-game losing streak into a three-game Big West Conference series at Hawaii, beginning Friday night.

"The expression is: Make them earn what they get, and [the Waves] didn't," said Gillespie, whose team has now committed 31 errors this season and allowed 25 unearned runs.

By contrast, UCI has scored 13 unearned runs with the help of 26 errors by its opponents.

The costly defensive lapses, in conjunction with two Pepperdine runs by runners who either walked or were hit by a pitch, likely made for a dour bus ride home through rush-hour traffic.

But Gillespie was also pleased by his offense's attack against a Pepperdine pitching staff that came in with a 2.28 earned-run average, 11th in the country, and allowed just one earned run in 27 innings of a West Coast Conference weekend sweep of Portland. Waves pitchers had allowed just seven runs in the previous eight games, including five shutouts.

"I liked what we did [offensively]," Gillespie said. "Three runs doesn't sound like something you'd be bragging about, but I thought we had good at-bats. We had maybe five or six hard-hit outs.

"[The Waves] got five hits, so how poorly did we pitch?" Gillespie said. "But throw [an attempted pickoff] away and there's a couple of walks and, you know, here we are with a 4-3 loss. It's one of those days."

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