Baseball UC Irvine shut out by first-place UCSB in Game 1 of series – Orange County Register
IRVINE — UC Irvine got its first taste of the team that dominated Big West Conference baseball in 2022, and like most teams was duly impressed.
The UC Santa Barbara No. 25 improved to 32-10 overall and 20-2 in conference with a 2-0 win over the Anteaters on Friday night at Cicerone Field, ace Gaucho Cory Lewis and reliever Matt Ager combining for a two-hitter.
Lewis improved to 7-0 and lowered his ERA under 3.00 by throwing seven good innings, allowing just one hit while walking four and striking out five. He wasn’t as powerful as he was effective against a UCI team that was struggling to score points.
The Anteaters (25-18, 10-9) didn’t have much batting quality. They had one hit until adding a second in the ninth.
“They’re a very good team, as their track record shows,” said UCI coach Bern Orloff. “Lewis has been throwing his stats all season, a few walks, no hits.”
The first four innings were a pitching duel between Nick Pinto and Lewis of the Anteaters, each pitching four scoreless innings.
UCSB broke through in the fifth with a short ball and a long ball. With one out, Jordan Sprinkle picked a left and quickly stole second base. On a 3 and 2 pitch to Kyle Johnson, Sprinkle stole third as Johnson took the ball four. Sprinkle has 20 interceptions in 24 attempts this season.
Jason Willow hit a through ball to score Sprinkle. Right-handed hitter Aaron Parker then hit for southpaw Blake Klassen, taking the lead against southpaw Pinto. Parker hit a 2-and-1 pitch against the wall in center field, yards from a home run, Parker settling for a triple as Johnson scored to make it 2-0.
UCI finally got a hit in the fourth, Caden Kendle hitting a triple to the center with two out.
Pinto (1-5) pitched well, working smoothly except for the fifth.
“He did a good job with a pick-off and then got a double play with the bases loaded,” Orloff said. “He took some tough losses, as is often the case on a Friday night.”
The Anteaters rallied in the ninth, with Nathan Church walking to start the inning and Kendle fielding a right single to put the runners in the corners with two outs.
UCI tried to push that advantage, sending Kendle flying, but receiver Nick Vogt kicked him out to end the game.
The two teams meet again Saturday at 6 p.m., with Sunday’s series finale scheduled for 1 p.m.