'Eaters buried early

The University of San Diego reached its magic number in the seventh inning on Tuesday at UC Irvine.

The Anteaters, at that time, had managed nothing but zeros and had nearly as many errors (three) as hits (four) against the offensive-minded Toreros, who improved to 19-0 when scoring at least six runs by claiming a 6-3 nonconference baseball victory.

It was the sixth straight win for USD (23-9), which has also won nine of its last 10. The Toreros, who entered the week ranked No. 3 in the nation in batting average (.335) and slugging (.480) and sixth in runs per game (eight), have outscored opponents, 76-37, in their last 10 games.

USD has not been all about offense, however, as its pitching staff has limited foes to one or fewer runs in four games, and no more than four runs six times during the 10-game run.

And while the visitors banged out six extra-base hits, only two of their runs were earned as UCI committed at least three errors for the fourth time this season.

The 'Eaters, coming off a three-game sweep at Hawaii to earn a share of the Big West Conference lead with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, rallied for three runs in the eighth. But it proved to be too little too late.

UCI did produce hits from seven spots in its lineup, but no Anteater had more than one.

Ryan Cooper's pinch-hit triple drove in two runs in the eighth, and he then scored on a groundout by pinch-hitter Evan Cassolato to cap the 'Eaters' only fruitful rally. UCI stranded runners in eight innings, leaving 12 runners holding the bag in the game.

Four of UCI's six pitchers failed to allow an earned run, including two one-hit relief innings from junior Matt Fielding, and single scoreless frames by freshmen Max Weinstein and Sean Spalding. It was the collegiate debut for Spalding, while Weinstein has now failed to surrender a run in his 2 1/3 innings this season.

Senior Mitch Merten made his first start of the season. He went 2 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and two runs, just one earned, to absorb the loss.

UCI's staff earned-run average, which ranked second in the Big West entering the week, improved from 2.52 to 2.51. UCI has now allowed 29 unearned runs this season.

Four of the five Toreros pitchers did not allow runs as they combined to strike out 11, two more than UCI hurlers fanned.

USD committed four errors, but none factored into the scoring.

It was the fourth Tuesday loss in the last five weeks for UCI , which allowed two unearned runs in a 4-3 road loss to Pepperdine one week prior.

Senior center fielder Louie Lechich went three for five with two doubles and a triple to pace USD's 10-hit attack. His one-out triple in the first inning glanced off the glove of retreating center fielder Justin Castro on the warning track in left-center field. And when Castro's throw short-hopped cutoff man Taylor Sparks, the shortstop in shallow left field, Lechich motored in from third to put the visitors on the scoreboard before the seats were warm.

The top six spots in the USD order produced all the team's hits.

UCI plays host to Cal State Northridge for a three-game Big West series that begins Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Big West Conference

San Diego 6, UC Irvine 3


USD 112 000 200 – 6 10 4

UCI 000 000 030 – 3 7 3

Burdick, Olson (3), Reitzler (6), Show (8), Goossen-Brown (8) and Joe, Jenner (8); Merten, Manarino (3), Fielding (4), Martin (6), Weinstein (8), Sparling (9) and McClanahan. W – Burdick, 2-1. L – Merten, 0-1. 2B – Bailey (USD), Lechich (USD) 2, Joe (USD), Sparks (UCI), Goossen-Brown (USD). 3B – Lechich (USD), Cooper (UCI).

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