LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The Anteaters took down their second ranked opponent of the season with a resounding 8-1 win Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium over No. 13 UCLA.
UCI (21-14, 5-4) staked starter Sean Sparling to an early lead thanks to Nick Anderson's Big West-leading sixth sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
The Bruins (22-10, 11-4) countered in the second inning capitalizing on an infield single and stolen base to plate the tying run with a two-out single up the middle from catcher Will McInerny making it a 1-1 game through two.
The pitching settled in for the next couple innings as Sparling and UCLA's Ryan Garcia kept the stalemate going. The Anteaters would make the next move in the fifth inning.
Brendan Brooks walked and got into scoring position after shortstop Kevin Kendall couldn't turn the double play on a difficult grounder leaving the door open for Konnor Zickefoose. He muscled a flare into right field dropping between a trio of Bruins to put UCI up, 2-1. Cole Kreuter then knocked the door in with a missile to left field well out for a two-run homer expanding the 'Eaters' lead to 4-1 in the fifth inning.
From then, the Anteater bullpen took over as Jake Lachemann, after entering in the fourth, mowed the Bruins down giving up a couple hits through three innings, but holding the 4-1 lead. He finally left with two outs in the eighth and two runners on base, but graduate senior Nick Anderson got the pivotal third out to swing the momentum back.
UCI's bats responded putting the game away with a four-spot in their half of the ninth thanks to two-run doubles from Zickefoose and Parker Coss closing out the victory, 8-1.
'Eaters keep winning! First Big West awards for Trenton and Ryan for the first program sweep since 2013 https://t.co/f2YPwboeTV— UCI Baseball (@UCIbsb) April 17, 2018
UC Irvine's victory keeps it at an unbeaten 7-0 in midweek games this season. It also improves to 7-2 in the month of April.
The Bruins entered the week at 22-9 and in the top 15 of the nation's rankings. UCI now improves to 2-2 on the season against ranked schools adding to the win over No. 7 TCU in early March.
The offense ran through Konnor Zickefoose who was 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and runs, three RBI, a sacrifice bunt, and also reached on a HBP as he's now hitting .444 in the month. Brendan Brooks reached three times adding the other multi-hit game for the 'Eaters, and Coss and Kreuter each had two RBI.
Lachemann registered his second win of the season from 3.2 scoreless innings. Sparling allowed the single run in three innings of work as the 'Eaters have now allowed two runs or less in eight of nine games this month.
The focus turns back to Big West play this weekend with a trip to CSUN April 20-22 starting Friday with a 3:00 p.m. start.