After scoring 20 runs and banging out 18 hits the day before, Loyola Marymount's baseball team couldn't muster enough offense to win Wednesday afternoon over visiting UC Irvine.
The Lions couldn't beat the waning sunlight either. The game ended in a 6-6 tie after eight innings of seesaw baseball when black clouds rolling off the Pacific obscured the light. The umpires called the game on account of darkness.
With Loyola pinch-runner Rich Tricarico on second base in the bottom of the eighth, Irvine reliever Steve May (formerly of Westchester High School) struck out designated hitter Joe Ciccarella on a high fastball, turning back the Lions' final threat.
Irvine third baseman Freddie Combs' two-out double in the sixth drove in a pair of runs and forced the 6-6 tie. Combs' line drive off Loyola reliever Darryl Scott one-hopped the fence in left-center field and chased home Chris Gallego (brother of Oakland A's infielder Mike) and Tracy Parker. Both had walked.
"Irvine got the big double when they needed it," said first-year Loyola Coach Chris Smith. The Lions are 1-0-1.
Combs' drive spoiled a fine four-plus innings for Scott, who struck out five in relief of starter Steve Surico. The two runners who scored in the sixth reached base on the only two walks by Scott, whose 13 saves last year set a school record.
Surico, who led the Lions with 12 victories last season, was shaky in his 1989 debut. The junior southpaw gave up a pair of walks and a single to three of the first four Irvine batters. Anteater left fielder Courtney Davis, the fifth batter up in the first, cleared the bases with a line double off the wall in center to give Irvine a 3-0 lead.
The Anteaters' lead was short-lived. Loyola's first two hitters, Robert Cannon and Joe Bellezzo, drew walks. Then Loyola left fielder Travis Tarchione launched a change-up from Irvine starter Jeff Haack high over the left-center field fence for his second home run in two games.
Tarchione came up with the defensive gem when he reached high above the left field wall to rob Irvine's Brian Young of a home run in the first.
"We missed a couple of opportunities today, but we played hard, and that's what counts," said Tarchione, who led the Lions in hitting last season with a .386 average. "But we've got a lot of offense, and eventually we won't miss those pitches we were missing today."
The Lions had a few chances to take advantage of Irvine's fielding lapses in the early innings but squandered most of them. Still, they had a 6-4 lead going into the sixth after scoring runs on a throwing error, infield out and sacrifice fly.
Loyola managed only five hits against left-hander Haack--Irvine's ace--and nobody had more than one hit. Loyola's Tarchione, Cannon, Miah Bradbury and Rick Allen had three three hits apiece in Tuesday's 20-12 victory over U.S. International University.
Loyola will get a triple shot of adversity over the weekend at Stanford, back-to-back winner of the College World Series, in a series that begins Friday at 2 p.m. and ends Sunday at 1.