Irvine, CA - In its first outing of the season against a top-25 opponent, the Saint Mary's baseball team dropped both games of a Friday doubleheader to the No. 11/16 UC Irvine Anteaters. The Gaels dropped the first game 11-9, before falling in the nightcap 12-8 on Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark.
Game one turned out to be a slugfest, as both teams had 13 hits and combined to hit six homeruns. The Gaels got a pair of dingers from sophomore All-American Troy Channing, while UC Irvine got two three-run jacks from Jeff Cusick and a solo shots by Sean Madigan and Ryan Fisher.
Channing finished the first game going 2-for-5 with two homeruns and five RBI, while Ryan Mulligan, Justin Fazio and Brenden Kalfus had two hits as well. For UCI, Cusick finished game one going 3-for-5 with six runs driven in. Madigan was 3-for-5 as well with three RBI and three runs scored.
SMC starting pitcher Brandon Berl (1-1) took the loss, throwing 5.1 innings, allowing eight earned runs on eight hits while striking out three batters. Irvine's Evan Brock (2-0) got the win in relief, as he threw four innings, allowing three runs on three hits with two strikeouts. After Brock allowed two runs in the ninth inning, Eric Pettis retired the three batters he faced to get his first save of the season.
Saint Mary's got on the scoreboard with three runs in the top of the first inning, with the big hit coming off the bat of freshman right fielder Brenden Kalfus. After Ryan Mulligan singles and Justin Fazio doubled, Kalfus drove them in with a two-RBI single up the middle. Kalfus scored when Patrick Wisdom doubled on the next at-bat.
UC Irvine got a solo homerun from right fielder Madigan in the bottom of the third inning, for their first run of the game. UCI took the lead with a five-run fourth inning. Ryan Fisher homered to lead off the inning, then the Anteaters tied the game at 3-3, when Madigan's single to lift field scored Dillon Bell from third. The inning was capped off by a three-run homerun off the bat of Cusick to left center field.
The Gaels answered with four runs in the top of the fifth inning, which included a three-run homerun by Channing. Donald Collins and Markus Melgosa singled to open the inning, and Collins scored on a single up the middle by Mulligan. Channing followed with his second homer of the year, a three-run blast to left field, giving the Gaels a 7-6 lead. Fazio doubled after the Channing homerun, but after Wisdom struck out, Chris Murphy lined into a double-play to end the inning.
The Anteaters took the lead for good with a four-run sixth inning, as Cusick hit his second three-run homer of the game. UC Irvine added another run in the seventh inning, when Casey Stevenson scored on a sacrifice fly by Bell off SMC reliever Dorsey Eke.
Saint Mary's tried to mount a comeback in the ninth inning, getting two runs off a Mulligan single and a Channing homerun to lead off the inning. Pettis entered and got the next three batters out to end the SMC comeback chances.
UC Irvine kept the momentum from game one and used it in their first at-bats of game two, touching SMC starter Kyle Barraclough (1-2) for nine runs in the first inning. Barraclough did not record an out, before Taylor Reid got the Gaels out of the inning.
Reid and Andrew Scott did a good job out of the bullpen, holding UC Irvine to three runs, two earned, the rest of the game. Ried pitched a solid 4.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits, while Scott pitched the final 3.1 innings, giving up one run on three hits.
From there, the Anteaters cruised and held a 12-2 leading into the ninth inning, where the Gaels got six runs in their final at-bat of the night. Saint Mary's batted around in the ninth off the UC Irvine bullpen, as the inning started with a Gastelum double, following by the first career homerun by Riley Heinzer on the next pitch. The final runs of the inning came across when Kalfus tripled to left center field, scoring Shaun O'Brien and Tim David.
SMC scored once in the second and fifth innings, while UC Irvine added runs is the fourth, fifth and eighth innings. Daniel Bibona (2-0) cruised to his second win of the season, allowing four hits while striking out 11 batters through seven innings. Nick Hoover pitched a hitless eighth inning, before Ruben Orozco allowed four runs on four hits in the top of the night.
Markus Melgosa and Reynolds Kalfus all had two hits each, while Gastelum, Heinzer, Patrick Wisdom, and Greg Dittmer all had hits in the ninth inning.
Saint Mary's and UC Irvine will complete the three-game series on Saturday with a 1 p.m. game at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark. The pitching match-up for the game features a pair of righties in Mark Anderson (1-1) for Saint Mary's and Eric Pettis (1-0) for UC Irvine.