College Baseball: Taylor goes deep

IRVINE — It was '80s night at Anteater Ballpark on Tuesday. Very few dressed the part for UC Irvine's baseball game.

But in the bottom of the third inning, Cal State Bakersfield starter Taylor Aikenhead showed up throwing in the low 80s.

The Anteaters finally undressed him. They collected four hits, half of them for extra bases, and four runs, two on a home run by junior Dominique Taylor.

That was all the No. 21-ranked Anteaters needed. They took the lead and never looked back, winning the nonconference game, 6-1.

It took the Anteaters (11-2) a couple of innings to get going offensively. Their timing against Aikenhead was off early on. The lefty kept changing speeds.

The Anteaters went down in the first inning, and then they lost their starting pitcher, Elliot Surrey. Coach Mike Gillespie didn't expect his left-hander to go long because it was a midweek game before the Anteaters left town for a three-game series at BYU starting on Thursday.

Surrey lasted only two innings. He didn't give up much, just a run, three hits, and he walked two and struck out two.

"We went to the next guy a little bit early because the first guy scuffled," said Gillespie, who brought in Evan Brock, one of five pitchers he used.

Brock went three innings and picked up his first victory. He struck out three and allowed one hit.

The Roadrunners (8-4) had opportunities to jump on Surrey in the first two innings, yet they left runners on first and second base each time.

The Anteaters failed to do anything at the plate against Aikenhead (2-1) at the start. He retired the side in order in the first and second innings. He used just 20 pitches.

He used more than that to get out of the third.

Aikenhead hurt himself by walking Scott Gottschling, the first batter he saw in the third inning. Mikey Duarte's sacrifice bunt moved Gottschling to second base.

Then the Anteaters' bats came alive.

Grant Palmer hit a line drive to right field, bringing in a run. He moved to second base after the ball got past the right fielder.

Two batters later, with Palmer still in scoring position, Taylor brought him home with a shot over the left-field fence. Taylor belted his first home run of the season and UCI went ahead, 3-1.

"He was [tough]," said Taylor, who saw Aikenhead fool UCI with changeups in the first two innings. "I went up to the plate my second time and I was thinking, 'Changeup, changeup.' I watched two fastballs go by and they weren't the kind of pitches that I wanted."

The third offering was a changeup and Taylor ripped it for a two-run homer. That turned out to be Aikenhead's biggest mistake during his seven-inning stint.

The last time Taylor said he homered was when he was a sophomore at Salt Lake Community College. Taylor was excited about that and the fact that he will be back in his home state soon. He and his team are playing well before they hit the road.

Taylor is eight for 16 with eight runs batted in his last four games. The Anteaters have won four in a row, but they will be playing in different conditions come Thursday in Provo, Utah.

Taylor, who is from Layton, which is an hour away from BYU, has his teammates prepared for the cold.

"These are beach boys, man," said Taylor when asked if his teammates will be able to handle the weather. "But my dad got us some ski masks, so we're going to try and stay warm."

The ski masks should help because it definitely won't be in the 80s in Provo.



UC Irvine 6, Cal State Bakersfield 1

Score by Innings

CSUB 100 000 000 – 1 5 1

UCI 004 000 02x – 6 6 0

Aikenhead, Christensen (8), Carter (8) and Martinez; Surrey, Brock (3), Ferragamo (6), Litchfield (7), Parmenter (9) and Shaeffer.

W – Brock, 1-0. L – Aikenhead, 2-1. Sv – None.

2B – Sparks (UCI). HR – Taylor (UCI).

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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