UC Irvine defeated Fresno State and San Francisco upended host UCLA, as both lower seeds advanced to the winner’s game on Saturday evening in Westwood.
The opener between UC Irvine and Fresno State had all the markings of a pitcher’s duel, as starters Matt Summers and Greg Gonzalez both entered the game sporting sub-two ERAs, and a combined record of 21-2. The game, however, ended up being a slugfest, with the Anteaters winning, 12-6.
The Anteaters got help in the first inning from two Bulldog miscues, scoring their first run on an RBI single by Drew Hillman. The big blast came off the bat of Jordan Leyland, who clubbed a three-run homer giving the Anteaters a five run lead.
An RBI groundout by Dusty Robinson in the bottom of the third, ended Matt Summers’ streak of conecutive scoreless innings at 21. The Bulldogs added another run to make it 5-2, but never got any closer.
In the bottom of the fifth, Fresno State opted to walk Christian Ramirez intentionally to load the bases, and Jordan Leyland again delivered with a a single to left, scoring two more runs, giving him 5 RBI on the afternoon, and UCI an 8-3 lead. Tommy Reyes and Ronnie Shaeffer then followed with RBI singles to make the score 10-3, and chase Fresno State starter Greg Gonzalez who allowed ten runs, though five were unearned.
Matt Summer lasted six innings for UC Irvine allowing three runs, one earned, while Freshman lefty Jimmy Litchfield threw two perfect innings to take the Eaters to the ninth, with a 12-3 lead.
In the bottom of the 9th, the Bulldogs rallied for three runs against Irvine reliever Kyle Hooper. But Andy Lines struck out Dusty Robinson to end the game, as UC Irvine advanced.
In the nightcap, the focus was on UCLA’s Gerrit Cole, expected to be a top pick in Monday’s MLB Draft, but USF righty Kyle Zimmer became the center of attention. Zimmer retired twenty-six of the first twenty-eight batters he faced, before the Bruins mounted a rally in the bottom of the ninth.
Jeff Gelalich rapped a two-out single, and Dean Espy lined a shot off the glove of Dons second baseman Jason Mahood before Zimmer hit Cody Keefer with a pitch to load the bases for Cody Regis. Regis took a called strike three, as Zimmer rung up his eleventh Bruin of the evening, setting up a Saturday appointment for the Dons with UC Irvine.
Zimmer allowed four hits and fanned eleven in recording the 3-0 shutout. USF first baseman Nick Balogh went four for four with 2 RBI to lead the Dons’ offense. Cole struck out eleven, while allowing three runs on eleven hits over his seven and a third. He pitched out of multiple jams, as the Dons left nine men on base. The Bruins will meet the Bulldogs at 2pm on Saturday in an elimination game.