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UCI closer delivers once Moore

Junior right-hander gets NCAA-best 15th save as UCI posts fifth straight Big West win.

April 13, 2014|By Barry Faulkner

With the UC Irvine baseball team this season, Moore has meant less for opposing hitters. Anteaters junior closer Sam Moore nailed down his nation-leading 15th save Saturday to help UCI claim a 5-4 Big West Conference victory over visiting Cal State Northridge.

It was the fourth consecutive conference game that Moore has saved for UCI and the 6-foot-1, 200-pound right-hander has not blown a save opportunity this season.

Moore got the final five outs Saturday, the 10th time he has pitched more than one inning to collect a save, and continues to defy the odds, as well as hitters, by collecting outs without big-time velocity.

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In his first two seasons, Moore pitched just 14 2/3 innings, posting a 5.52 earned-run average with no decisions. But after projected closer Mitch Merten missed the opening of the season with arm trouble, Moore stepped in and has thoroughly stepped up.

"He has always been a bulldog, especially now that he has confidence," junior catcher Jerry McClanahan, who had the winning run batted in Saturday, said of Moore. "He kind of came out of left field, but he has really embraced that closer role. He just gets after it and kind of comes right at guys."

UCI Coach Mike Gillespie commented about Moore's mound swagger before the season began and Moore has backed up his bravado with masterful results. In 30 2/3 innings this season, he has allowed four earned runs (a 1.79 ERA) and 17 hits. He has walked just five and struck out 28. He has allowed runs in only three of his 18 appearances and his lone loss came in a three-inning relief stint against Fresno State in the 10-inning season opener.

With 23 regular-season games left, Moore needs three saves to surpass the current school single-season record shared by Blair Erickson and Eric Pettis.

The first hitter Moore faced Saturday, Matadors cleanup hitter Nick Blaser, doubled into the left-field corner to drive in two runs and pull the visitors within one run. Blaser advanced to third on a groundout to short, but Moore left his stranded by inducing a groundout to second baseman Mikey Duarte to end the threat.

A single and an throwing error by Moore on a swinging bunt along the first-base line, put runners at first and second with one out in the Matadors' ninth. But he struck out leadoff man Ranny Lowe and induced a fielder's choice grounder to shortstop Taylor Sparks to end the game.

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