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'Eaters bounce back

Surrey pitched into the eighth to win fifth straight start and Moore rebounds for 16th save for UCI.

April 18, 2014|By Barry Faulkner

Sam Moore may have lost a decision just 24 hours previous, but he didn't lose what has made him the most productive closer in the nation this season.

The UC Irvine junior got the final four outs to preserve the host Anteaters' 3-0 nonconference baseball victory over San Diego State on Friday.

"There are two things to like about [Moore]," UCI Coach Mike Gillespie said after Moore notched his NCAA-best 16th save of the campaign, one night after coughing up his first blown save. "His split and his swagger."

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Moore, who helped starter Elliot Surrey cash in the victory to improve to 6-2, said he was anxious to get the ball again with the game on the line.

"We tried to make him understand, that this happens," Gillespie said of his one-on-one postgame conference with Moore after the Aztecs rallied from a 1-0 deficit for a 3-1 win in the series opener on Thursday. "I [told Moore] we've got to have you know that you are the right guy and that you can't question who you are."

Moore is now just one save away from trying the school single-season record shared by Blair Erickson and Eric Pettis.

The Anteaters were also true to their team identity, winning with standout pitching and just enough hitting to scratch across some runs.

Junior first baseman Connor Spencer's two-out single in the third inning got the hosts (25-13) on the scoreboard. Then, three hits and a throwing error helped UCI double the advantage in the fourth.

UCI added an insurance run in the eighth when Spencer was hit by a pitch and Taylor Sparks doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs. After a foul popup, Jonathan Munoz was intentionally walked and pinch-hitter Mikey Duarte delivered a two-strike bunt single on a safety squeeze play to finalize the scoring. Duarte had bunted through the second strike and Spencer appeared to be caught in a rundown off of third base. But Spencer beat the catcher back to the bag and the other UCI runners retreated to their respective bases with the other infielders out of position.

Surrey, after a March 15 loss at Nebraska that dropped him to 1-2, was in danger of losing his weekend rotation spot. But since, he has won five consecutive starts, surrendering just three earned runs and 22 hits in 36 2/3 innings. He has struck out 28 during that span, including five on Friday.

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