Irvine, Calif. – Behind a two-run homer from Jason Taasaas, the Pacific baseball team carried a 4-1 lead into the eighth, but UC Irvine rallied for six runs to take game two of the Big West series, 7-4, Saturday at Anteater Ballpark.
Senior SS Josh Simms reached base all five times with two hits and three walks, while Taasaas, the sophomore catcher, collected two hits and two RBI. But in the eighth, the Anteaters had nine out of 10 men reach base for a six-run frame.
Like he did on Friday in the ninth, Taylor Sparks provided a two-run hit to give the Anteaters a 5-4 lead. Sparks, who's walk-off homer in the ninth gave Irvine a 5-4 win Friday, delivered a one-out bases-loaded single to give Irvine the lead for good.
Freshman LF Taylor Murphy led off the top of the second with a walk, and Taasaas hammered the first pitch from starter RHP Crosby Slaught over the wall in left-center for his first home run of the season. His third career long ball stakes Pacific out to a 2-0 lead.
In the third, Simms singled and after a one-out walk to Torchio set up first and third. Sophomore DH Riley Drongesen tapped a spinning ball in front of the mound and Slaught had no play at the plate losing the handle allowing Drongesen to be safe while Simms scored. Allen Riley followed with a single through the right side. Sensing a close play at the plate, Drongesen stopped between second and third and got into a run down allowing Torchio to score for a 4-0 lead.
UC Irvine picked up a run in the bottom of the fourth of LHP Kyle Crawford. 3B Dillon Moyer and SS DJ Crumlich posted back-to-back singles, and after a sacrifice but, Moyer scored on an RBI groundout from 1B Jordan Fox. Crawford coaxed a fly out and kept Irvine off the board until the seventh.
Slaught lasted five innings, allowing all four runs on six hits. The Tigers threatened to blow it open in the fifth, as Torchio singled and Drongesen doubled to right. But a line out to left field turned into a double-play when the relay throw from Crumlich gunned down Torchio at the plate.
RHP Mitch Merten entered in the sixth and stranded two runners. Crawford allowed a pair of singles with one out in the sixth, but left both remaining on base, getting a strikeout and a fly out to end the inning.
Crawford got the first out of the eighth, but gave up back-to-back singles to 2B Tommy Reyes and Fox. LHP Joe Spizzirri entered, and after a fly out to center, was touched for a double to left off the bat of Scott Gottschling to cut the lead to 4-2. Spizzirri issued a pair of walks as the lead dipped to 4-3. RHP Chris Larsen entered, but Sparks lined a single the other way for a 5-4 Anteater lead. After a walk to Moyer, Crumlich piled on with a two-run single over the shortstop giving UC Irvine a 7-4 lead. RHP Thomas Berolzheimer, the fourth pitcher of the inning, retired Reyes on a groundout to finally end the inning.
Simms walked off UC Irvine closer RHP Race Parmenter, but Parmenter answered back by getting the next three on a pop-out, a fielder's choice and a fly ball to centerfield for his third save.
Spizzirri falls to 0-1 on the season, while Merten (1-0) took the win. Crawford finished with 7.1 innings, three earned runs on seven hits, striking out four.
Redshirt freshman 1B Erik Lockwood saw his hit streak end at 12 with an 0-for-4 day. Drongesen has now hit safely in 10-straight games.
Merten and Parmenter combined to allow one hit over the final four innings. UC Irvine improves to 16-9 on the year, 2-0 in the Big West. Pacific falls to 8-18 overall, 0-2 in BWC play. Game three of the series is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.