SAN DIEGO — In his 26th season, having pulled the strings in more than 1,500 Division I college baseball games, UC Irvine Coach Mike Gillespie apparently knows when he has seen enough.
Gillespie hit his breaking point for the second time in three games on Tuesday, when the Anteaters allowed eight runs in the sixth inning of a 18-2 nonconference loss at San Diego State.
Gillespie was ejected during the Aztecs' big inning Tuesday, just as he was shown the gate during a nine-run fourth inning on Saturday in a 14-13 loss at the University of the Pacific. It was a disagreement about balls and strikes that prompted his ouster on Saturday. Tuesday, it was a dispute over a throw from pitcher Sam Moore to catcher Ronnie Shaeffer that turned a potential bases-loaded double play into an error and ultimately an argument.
Shaeffer appeared to have caught the ball cleanly while stepping on the plate for a force out after Moore turned around a comebacker that he bobbled slightly, then hurried his throw home, making it someone offline. Shaeffer appeared to drop the ball while attempting to pivot toward first base. But the home-plate umpire ruled that he never had possession, so the runner sliding home was called safe.
Gillespie walked calmly toward home plate to protest, but perhaps his verbiage was less calm, as he was quickly tossed.
Unlike Saturday, when UCI came from behind and had the bases loaded before hitting into a game-ending double play, Gillespie didn't miss much at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
The Aztecs tacked on eight more in the eighth to hand UCI its second straight Tuesday loss. The Anteaters had won their first five Tuesday outings this season.
The 18 runs were the most allowed by UCI since its 21-7 loss at LSU in the 2008 Super Regional. And though UCI was charged with two errors, only two San Diego State runs were unearned.
UCI tied the score with a run in the fourth inning, when Grant Palmer singled home Shaeffer, who had doubled to start the inning. But, perhaps in a harbinger of things to come, UCI's Jerry McClanahan was thrown out at home trying to score from second base on the play. Palmer was then gunned down by the catcher trying to advance to second for a rally-killing double play.
San Diego State regained the lead with a run in the fifth off loser Kyle Hooper, before the flood gates opened.
Jimmy Litchfield, who entered in the sixth and recorded five outs, was the only one of UCI's seven pitchers not to allow at least one run. The Anteaters' staff saw its 2.74 earned-run average, which ranked No. 2 in the Big West Conference coming into this week, rise to 3.12.
Offensively, sophomore third baseman Taylor Sparks and senior right fielder Scott Gottschling went two for four to pace the visitors' eight-hit attack.
Sophomore outfielder Ryan Cooper drove in a run as a pinch-hitter in the ninth as UCI fell to 25-12.
San Diego State (20-20) was led by junior second baseman Tim Zier, who was four for six with two runs batted in. Five other Aztecs had multiple hits as their 18-hit outburst lifted their season batting average six points to .266.
San Diego State starter Mike Robards allowed one run on seven hits over 7 2/3 innings to improve to 3-0.
UCI will attempt to bounce back when it begins a three-game home series against Big West Conference rival UC Davis on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
San Diego State 18, UC Irvine 2
UCI 000 100 001 – 2 8 2
SD St. 001 018 08x – 18 18 0 1
Merten, Hooper (4), Brock (6), Moore (6), Litchfield (6), Lines (8), Ferragamo (8), and Shaeffer; Robards, Sapp (8) and Haynal. W – Robards, 3-0. L – Hooper, 1-2. 2B – Shaeffer (UCI), Zier (SDSU), Gottschling (UCI), Muno (SDSU), Haynal (SDSU), Munoz (UCI), Pallaras (SDSU).
Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times