LOS ANGELES — First came the breaks, then the rare game-breaker.
UC Irvine junior designated hitter Jordan Leyland hit a three-run home run to cap a five-run first and the Anteaters went on to defeat Fresno State, 12-6, in the opening baseball game of the NCAA Los Angeles Regional on Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Leyland added a two-run single to post a career-high five runs batted in as UCI (40-16) posted 10 runs, half of those unearned, against All-American starter Greg Gonzalez, who came in with an 11-0 record and a 1.43 earned-run average.
Fresno State (40-15) committed two errors in the opening inning and four in the game as UCI All-American starter Matt Summers won his fifth straight start and improved to 11-2.
Leyland, who hit two home runs and drove in five runs in four games to earn all-regional honors last season at UCLA's diamond, was two for four to help the Anteaters advance to the winner's bracket clash against San Francisco (33-23) Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Dons scored a 3-0 win over top-seeded UCLA (34-23).
Junior shortstop D.J. Crumlich and junior second baseman Tommy Reyes both went three for five with one RBI and junior catcher Ronnie Shaeffer was two for four with three RBIs for the Anteaters. Shaeffer, who leads the nation in throwing out would-be base stealers, nailed the only Bulldogs runner attempting to steal.
Senior Brian Hernandez was two for five as UCI amassed 15 hits, 12 against Gonzalez, who had not given up more than nine hits or more than three earned runs in any of his 15 previous starts this season.
Fresno State, which came in with 50 home runs, did not manage an extra-base hit.
Summers, who had given up two combined hits in his last two regular-season starts, both complete-game shutouts that included a no-hitter against Long Beach State, allowed three runs, just one earned, on five hits in six innings. Summers walked one and struck out six. He threw 104 pitches.
A would-be double-play grounder skipped through the shortstop's legs and Gonzalez dropped a relay throw to first after an out at second base to prolong the first inning. Leyland's home run was in the glove of leaping right fielder Dusty Robinson, before it fell over the fence for his fourth dinger of the season, his first opposite-field blast in 2011.
It was the 12th big fly this season for the 'Eaters, who are now 11-0 in games in which they have gone yard.
"I don't think anybody gets style points for today, but it was a very, very important win," said Gillespie, whose team committed three errors. "We were fully aware of the fact that we got really three huge breaks in the first inning. And then Jordan Leyland was able to really exploit the opportunities we got."
Fresno State Coach Mike Batesole said his team's shaky play was atypical.
"We were not very neat and clean on defense and we were not very neat and clean on the mound," Batesole said.
Leyland, who is now seven for 17 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in five regional games at Jackie Robinson Stadium, said he is comfortable at the plate and in this ballpark.
"This has been a tough season for me, an up and down season," Leyland said. "I have been changing my stance here and there and I am in a comfortable stance that I like. I think I am peaking at the right moment and, hopefully, I can carry that on moving forward."
Gillespie said there is not a final decision, but he indicated that sophomore left-hander Matt Whitehouse (3-0 with a 2.14 ERA) is the probable starter Saturday.
UC Irvine 12, Fresno State 6
SCORE BY INNINGS
UCI 500 140 200 — 12 15 3
FS 002 010 003 — 6 8 4
Summers, Litchfield (7), Hooper (9), Lines (9) and Shaeffer; Gonzalez, Kendall (5), Anderson (7), Sailes (8) and Wynns. W – Summers, 11-2. L – Gonzalez, 11-1.
2B – Reyes (UCI) 2 . 3B – Fox (UCI). HR – Leyland (UCI).