UC Irvine scored 12 unanswered runs to come back and defeat the Dirtbags 12-5 Friday night in Irvine. Long Beach State (12-12, 10-11 Big West) jumped out to an early lead before UCI’s starting pitcher settled in, but was unable to hold on late in the game.
Ranked no. 24 nationally, UC Irvine (25-12, 17-4 Big West) has now won 10 of its last 13 games, outscoring opponents 116-to-61 in that span. With Friday’s win, UCI improved to 14-2 at home.
Freshman third baseman Jonathon Long hit his fifth homerun of the season to lead off the second inning for the Dirtbags. Juniors Jesse Lopez and Chris Jimenez followed with a double and hit-by-pitch to traffic the bases.
Sophomore second baseman Brennan Rozell doubled to score Lopez followed by a groundout and throwing error that brought in two more runs, extending the Dirtbags lead to 4-0 early on.
Long Beach scored its fifth and last run of the game in the third inning with a double from Jimenez, scoring freshman Connor Kokx. Kokx went 2-for-4 overall.
Dirtbags starting pitcher Johnathon Lavellee was hit hard in his third and final inning beginning with a lead off homerun from UCI’s Connor McGuire. With two outs and two runners on base, Luke Spillane doubled them home to cut the deficit to two.
Both Dillon Tatum and Jacob Castro followed with RBI base hits to even up the game for the Anteaters.
UC Irvine’s starting pitcher, Trenton Denholm quieted the Dirtbags bats following a rough start as he scattered three hits in his final four innings of work.
He finished the game going seven innings, allowing five runs on eight hits as he struck out five hitters on 107 pitches.
After a solid first inning of relief, Dirtbags freshman pitcher Basillio Pacheco struggled to command the rest of his outing, resulting in hits and walks for the opposition.
UCI took its first lead of the game after a double from Castro in the fifth inning. One batter later, McGuire provided insurance with a single that drove in two runs. McGuire went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Pacheco gave up three runs on four hits and walked two batters in his 2.2 innings of work. He was tagged with his second loss of the season.
Long Beach sophomore Trevor Sutt got the first two outs of the seventh inning then proceeded to walk four straight hitters to allow another UCI run.
The Dirtbags went to the bullpen again for sophomore Jonathan Carlos to relieve Sutt. The first batter he faced, freshman Nathan Church, cleared the bases, delivering the knockout blow and making it a 12-5 game.
Both teams line it up again Saturday for a doubleheader with the first pitch beginning at noon.