Ronnie Schaeffer’s ninth inning single past first baseman Dean Espy, vaulted UC Irvine into the Super Regional for the third time in the past five seasons. Mike Gillespie’s Anteaters won their third straight at the Los Angeles Regional, besting the Bruins, helmed by his former Assistant John Savage, 4-3. They will now travel to Charlottesville to take on the Cavaliers of Virginia.
The ‘Eaters, buoyed by their vocal and spirited cheering section, were rendered uncomfortably silent over the first eight by UCLA Freshman Zach Weiss. Weiss limited Irvine to six hits and two runs, before he was replaced by Nick Vander Tyg after walking pinch-hitter Jonathan Hurst to start the ninth. With Irvine trailing 3-2, Hurst battled for nine pitches before drawing the free pass on a 3-2 pitch, and Bruin Head Coach John Savage signalled to the bullpen.
Jordan Leyland greeted Vander Tyg with a double down the left field line on an 0-2 pitch, after he twice failed to execute the sacrifice. Pinch-runner Dillon Moyer scored all the way from first, as the ‘Eaters tied the score at three. Tommy Reyes then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the throw pulled Bruin first baseman Dean Espy off the bag, allowing Reyes to reach base with pinch-runner Scott Gotschling moving to third.
Four pitches later, Schaeffer delivered the clutch single to right for his second RBI of the game. The Anteaters were the designated home team for the game, as they were playing out of the winner’s bracket, with the Bruins attempting to force an elimination game on Monday.
UCLA jumped out to an early lead, when with one out in the first, Jeff Gelalich homered to right on the first pitch he saw from UCI starter Andy Thurman. On May 24th, Thurman limited UCLA to four hits and a run over seven innings in a 2-1 Anteater win in Irvine.
Gelalich also drove home the second UCLA run, as he hit into a fielder’s choice with one out in the fourth inning to plate Tyler Heineman. Heineman himself stroked a two out RBI single to right in the top of the fifth that scored Cody Regis and gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead.
Tommy Reyes and Ronnie Schaeffer stacked one out doubles in the bottom of the fifth to produce Irvine’s first run. Later in the frame, Brian Hernandez delivered a clutch two-out single to center, scoring Schaeffer, to trim the UCLA lead to 3-2, and set the stage for the ninth inning heroics.
The Bruins advanced to the Sunday nightcap by eliminating USF earlier in the day behind Freshman right-hander Adam Plutko, who bewitched the Dons over the first seven and two-thirds allowing just one hit and two walks. Dean Espy had an RBI single in the third, with Cody Regis delivering and RBI double later in the frame, as the Bruins, aided by a USF fielding error, took a 3-1 lead.