Sam Moore breaks Big West record, Taylor Sparks wins it for UC Irvine
IRVINE, Calif. -- The Anteaters tied the game on a wild play in the seventh and Sam Moore became the new Big West single-season save leader with his 21st as UC Irvine edged No. 24 UC Santa Barbara 3-2 to win the series on Saturday.
With UCI trailing 2-0, the Anteaters rallied in the seventh behind Jonathan Munoz and Jerry McClanahan, who hit back-to-back singles against starter Austin Pettibone. Following a sacrifice bunt by Kris Paulino, UCSB went to reliever Greg Mahle and Adam Alcantara came off the bench and put the 'Eaters on the board with a run-scoring groundball to short. With a 2-0 count to John Brontsema, Mahle's third offering hit the dirt and bounced away on the first-base side. McClanahan began to run home but catcher Jackson Morrow jumped on the ball, freezing McClanahan between third and home. Morrow's throw to Mahle at home was wide and picked up by third baseman Robby Nesovic, who was covering on the play. McClanahan broke for home plate and plated the tying run as Nesovic's throw to Morrow was high.
The Anteaters took the momentum into the eighth inning as Grant Palmer drew a leadoff walk and took second on the hit from Chris Rabago. Mahle induced a double-play grounder to second with Palmer taking third on the play and then handed the ball to closer Dillon Tate to face Taylor Sparks. Sparks worked the count full and then punched a two-hopper behind the third-base bag that was knocked down by a diving Nesovic, but went for an infield hit, scoring Palmer for the go-ahead run.
Moore would make the score stand. Entering in the UCSB ninth, the right-hander gave up a pinch-hit single to Billy Fredrick to lead off the inning but struck out Dalton Kelly. The Gauchos attempted the hit-and-run but Woody Woodward was unable to connect and McClanahan threw a strike to Rabago on the second-base side of the bag to erase pinch-runner Devon Gradford for the second out. Woodward would hit a bouncer to Sparks for the final out. With the save, Moore passed Long Beach State's Gabe Gonzales, who posted 20 in 1995.
The Gauchos took the early lead on an RBI single from Cameron Newell in the second and a run-scoring double from Joey Epperson in the fifth and Pettibone held the Anteaters scoreless through six as UCI put runners on base in the first four innings but came up empty, leaving four stranded.
Elliot Surrey gave the 'Eaters another quality start but recorded the no-decision despite holding the Gauchos to two runs on seven hits in 7.1 innings of work. Manarino was credited the win to climb to 2-3 after striking out one and snuffing out one base-runner.
Pettibone also registered the no-decision after giving up two runs on six hits in 6.1 innings. Mahle fell to 6-3 after yielding a run on one hit in 1.1 frames.
Spencer and Munoz went 2 for 4 while Sparks and Alcantara each recorded a run batted in.