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UC Irvine continued its Big West – and Hawaii – baseball championship with Saturday’s double-header sweep at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark in Irvine, California.
With 12: 5 and 4: 3 the anteaters won the first three of this four-game series against UH and improved in the Big West to 7: 0 and 13: 7 overall. The Rainbow Warriors fell on after their fourth defeat in a row 3-4 and 11-6. The series ends today with the first pitch at 10 a.m. Hawaii time.
“It was a tough day in the yard,” said UH trainer Mike Trapasso in a telephone interview. “That’s the only way to sum it up.”
In the first game of the double header, batsman-designate Jacob Igawa buckled on a homer with three runs to give the ‘Bows a 4-0 lead in the first frame. After that, the ‘Bows only managed three hits against UCI’s Nick Pinto. Pinto went one and hit eight in seven innings. During one stretch, he retired 11 in a row.
The anteaters advanced 7-4 with a fifth run in five runs and ended the drama with four more runs in the eighth.
“The first game was an abomination to the craft of pitching and defense,” said Trapasso.
The ‘Bows allowed 16 hits, made three mistakes and threw the wrong cutoff player to turn singles into scoring opportunities. A player also miscalculated the number of outs.
UH starting pitcher Cade Halemanu, who had thrown 8 1/3 goalless innings a week earlier, had trouble with his goal. “Cade just couldn’t find his fastball, couldn’t throw anything into the zone,” said Trapasso. “Everything was over the (catcher mask). And they just hammered everything he had left. They chased high. And we didn’t play a defense behind him either. “
In the second game, the anteaters built a 3-0 lead on four consecutive hits in the third inning. The ‘Bows closed 3-1 against Safea Villaruz-Mauai’s RBI single to the right and joined them when Kole Kaler placed a tough grounder past the third baseman, who was viewed as a “human vacuum” (Connor McGuire) for two runs twice in the seventh.
In the seventh UCI, shortstop Taishi Nakawake pushed Li’i Pontes’ eighth place in the left field for a double off the wall. Nakawake moved up to third when Pontes struggled to field McGuire’s Bunt and kicked off Mike Peabody’s safety squeeze.
The ‘bows filled the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Tyler Best’s flyout to the right ended it.
“If we have ducks in the pond, we better bring them in,” said Trapasso.
Trapasso praised the UH freshman who started pitcher Austin Teixeira, who made his way through the first six innings. “It was disappointing that we couldn’t reward him for a good start,” said Trapasso.