LOS ANGELES — Stop one on the UC Irvine baseball turnabout tour came a sudden and successful end for the Anteaters, who rallied for a dramatic 4-3 victory over host UCLA to win the NCAA Los Angeles Regional Sunday to cap a three-game regional sweep.
UCI (42-16), which was eliminated by UCLA in last year’s Los Angeles Regional, scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth at Jackie Robinson Stadium to win its third regional in five years.
Junior catcher Ronnie Shaeffer, who ended the regular season in a two-for-28 slump, then struck out in his first regional at-bat Friday, punched a two-strike single just inside first base to drive in pinch-runner Scott Gottschling with the game-winning run.
Senior pinch-hitter Jon Hurst opened the ninth with a nine-pitch walk and gave way to pinch-runner Dillon Moyer. Moyer motored around to score on a double into the left-field corner by junior designated hitter Jordan Leyland off UCLA reliever Nick Vander Tuig.
With Gottschling on second, junior second baseman Tommy Reyes, trying to sacrifice bunt, produced a bunt single that put runners on the corners. After Reyes stole second, Shaeffer, who doubled in UCI’s first run in a two-run fifth inning, came up big to finish six for 10 in three regional games to earn the four-team tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.
Reyes, junior shortstop D.J. Crumlich, and senior third baseman Brian Hernandez, who drove in a run in the fifth inning, joined Shaeffer on the All-Regional team.
Freshman Phil Ferragamo pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief to earn the win. He struck out the side in the ninth after leaving the bases loaded by getting the final out of the eighth on a long fly ball to center.
Nick Hoover and Andy Lines also combined for 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief after freshman starter Andrew Thurman allowed three runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
UCLA (35-24) scored single runs in the first, fourth and fifth innings to take a 3-0 lead behind starter Zack Weiss, a freshman out of Northwood High in Irvine.
Shaeffer was two for three and five others contributed to UCI’s nine-hit attack.
UCI, which would advance to the College World Series by winning the best-of-three Super Regional at Virginia (52-9), was eliminated by the Cavaliers in the 2009 Irvine Regional at Anteater Ballpark.
“It’s kind of weird how it lined up this year with UCLA knocking us out last year,” Shaeffer said. “We got to give some payback to them in the regional. A couple years ago [when UCI was ranked No. 1 in the country], Virginia knocked us out and now we’re going to hopefully get some payback there too. We know they’ve got a good club, with some good pitching and we’re for the battle.”
UC Irvine 4, UCLA 3
SCORE BY INNINGS
UCLA 100 110 000 – 3 9 0
UCI 000 020 002 – 4 9 0
Weiss, Vander Tuig (9) and Heineman; Thurman, Hoover (6), Lines (8), Ferragamo
(8) and Schaeffer. W – Ferragamo, 2-0. L – Vander Tuig (3-4). 2B – Keefer (UCLA), Reyes (UCI), Shaeffer (UCI), Leyland (UCI). HR – Gelalich (UCLA).