Trojans hold off 'Eaters

IRVINE — It was too little too late on two accounts Wednesday for the UC Irvine baseball team, which lost a nonconference game to visiting USC, 5-4, to halt a five-game winning streak.

The Anteaters (14-9), who had scored in their final at-bat to win two games during the streak, were shut down in the final two innings against the Trojans (15-8).

In addition, the last three spots in the UCI batting order went a combined zero for 12.

USC, which came in having lost five of its previous seven, scored three in the third to erase a 2-0 deficit. The Trojans then added two in the sixth, with the aid of a leadoff walk and an error.

UCI came in with a three-game errorless streak, a notable accomplishment since it played only four of its first 19 contests without an error, But a misplayed ground ball by senior second baseman Tommy Reyes led to the deciding run. Reyes' error came after Phil Ferragamo walked Matt Foat to start the sixth. Both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt and scored on back-to-back singles by Jake Hernandez and Dante Flores.

Flores was part of a lower third of the USC batting order that was five for 11 with two RBIs, including the game-winner.

Senior Martin Viramontes worked the final two innings to record his third save in a game that featured 13 pitchers. Viramontes retired the first five he faced, before freshman Connor Spencer whacked a single up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Justin Castro pinch-ran for Spencer and stole second on a 3-1 pitch when the throw to second that appeared to beat him was dropped.

But junior Jeff Stephens, who singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, grounded to second base to drop UCI to 4-4 in one-run games.

UCI had won three one-run decisions during the streak, which also included a season-high-tying 17 runs to cap a three-game sweep of Dartmouth on Saturday.

The Anteaters managed eight hits Wednesday, including two each by Spencer and senior center fielder Christian Ramirez.

A single by Reyes and a triple by senior first baseman Jordan Fox produced the game's first run in the UCI first. Fox later scored on an infield error. The Trojans used four hits, including an RBI triple by No. 9 hitter Garrett Houts and a two-run home run by Garrett Stubbs, his first of the season, to gain the lead in the third.

Two errors on the same play allowed UCI to score in the fifth and Ramirez's two-out triple in the seventh plated Stephens, who had singled before him, to pull UCI within 5-4.

Phil Ferragamo, who did not allow a hit in two innings and struck out the side in the fourth, was tagged with the loss to even his record to 2-2. He walked two and struck out four.

Mitch Merten allowed three runs on four hits in one inning. He took over after sophomore Jimmy Litchfield allowed one hit and no runs in two innings in his first start of the season.

UCI senior reliever Nick Hoover, who came on with two on, one out and two runs in the sixth, allowed a single to load the bases. But he then struck out the next two hitters to keep UCI within striking distance.

Evan Brock and Race Parmenter also had scoreless pitching outings for the hosts, who open Big West Conference play on Friday by playing host to Pacific in the first of a three-game series at 6:30 p.m.

One highlight sequence for UCI was freshman right fielder Taylor Sparks diving to snag a would-be triple in the gap in the eighth. On the next play, Sparks fielded a would-be single on a short hop and quickly threw to second to force the runner and make it a 9-6 fielder's choice.

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5



USC 5, UC Irvine 4


USC 003 002 000 – 5 12 3

UCI 200 010 100 – 4 8 2

Garcia, Wheatley (3), Munson (5), Douthit (7), Guillen (7), Viramontes (8) and Roundtree; Litchfield, Merten (3), Ferragamo (4), Trentacosta (5), Hoover (5), Brock (8), Parmenter (8) and Rabago, McClanahan (7). W – Munson, 2-0. L – Ferragamo, 2-2. Sv – Viramontes (3). 2B – Crumlich (UCI). 3B – Fox (UCI), Houts (USC), Ramirez (UCI). HR – Stubbs (USC).

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