MikeGillespie

CBD Visit: UC Irvine Holds Off Cal, 5-3

MikeGillespieThe Set Up

IRVINE, Calif. — UC Irvine came into the game riding high after a sweep of nationally ranked Baylor last weekend and looking to extend its winning streak behind ace Andrew Thurman. Cal came in fresh off a mid-week loss to arch-rival Stanford after sweeping Michigan at home last week.

Thurman didn’t disappoint this night finishing the night with nine strikeouts in six innings. Despite getting a no decision – he had four last season – Thurman kept Cal (3-2) off balance by mixing pitches with precision and being overpowering when he had to be. The offense for UC Irvine (4-0) pounded out 13 hits forcing Cal to go deep into their pen and use four pitchers, which could prove costly in this four-game weekend series. The two teams will play a doubleheader tomorrow.

The Turning Points

In the fourth inning, Irvine used two base hits, a hit-by-pitch, a wild-pitch and a Cal error to score two runs to take a 3-1 lead. Cal answered with a run in the fifth to pull within one.

Irvine managed only two hits in the next three innings while Cal didn’t get anything going until the seventh inning when Max Dutto led the inning off with a single. He scored on Jacob Wark’s second triple of the night to tie the game at three.

Irvine answered in the bottom half of the seventh with two runs on four hits, all singles, ┬ábefore handing it over to Andrew Morales, who finished it off for the ‘Eaters for his second win of the season. The pitching staff for Irvine was dominant from the outset with Thurman setting the tone followed by Surrey, Morales, and Parmenter.

Quotable

“Thurman was good. Surrey and Morales dug us out of that hole and Parmenter closed it out. It was good win against a good club in Cal.” – UC Irvine head coach Mike Gillespie on the pitching staff performance.

“He’s the toughest out in our lineup. He’s going to get the barrel on the ball the most consistently” – Gillespie on Ronnie Shaeffer who finished 3-for-5 and an RBI.

“I’ve learned to be confident in every at bat even when things aren’t going good. Most importantly, just have fun” – UC Irvine catcher Ronnie Shaeffer.

“Cal is a good team and that’s a big win for us. I made a couple mistakes they hit but the bullpen was able to come in and pick me up. Most importantly we got a win against a good Cal team.” – UC Irvine pitcher Andrew Thurman who settled for a no decision.

Scouts Take

I spoke with an AL scout in attendance about several players who he believed to be draftable in the 2013 MLB draft. Below are his thoughts:

“I really like Thurman and Knapp and can see both of those guys going relatively high in the draft. They each have some questions going into the draft. For Thurman, it’s his durability and can he consistently pitch in the mid-90’s. The last two weeks we’ve seen him hit 96 a couple times but he’s generally sat 90-92; that’s not frontline stuff compared to other guys in this draft.

“For Knapp the biggest question is can he continue to hit like he did this summer. He’s off to a solid, not great, start so far. He needs to show more power, which he showed a bit in the summer. We will get a better gauge of his power when it starts to warm up later in the season.”

“There are other guys out here I like. Dominique Taylor is a guy that’s shown himself well since last season at Salt Lake CC. He has plus speed and an above average glove. He knows how to play the game and his coaches rave about him in the clubhouse. Those are the type of guys that succeed in this game. Whitehouse is another pitcher I really like. We’ll see him throw tomorrow.”

Top Performers

Ronnie Shaeffer: 3-for-5, RBI, run scored.

Taylor Sparks: 3-for-5 with a run scored.

Dominique Taylor: 2-for-5 with a run scored and a stolen base.

Andrew Thurman: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 9 K, BB

Bottom Line

I said last week this season could mark a return to national prominence for UC Irvine and it proved again tonight that should be the case. Andrew Thurman and Matt Whitehouse give the Anteaters a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation to go with a bullpen that features a good mix of veteran and young pitchers.

The lineup is a formidable one that doesn’t provide an easy out for opposing pitchers. Head coach Mike Gillespie feels confident this team has the makeup and leadership to make a run at dethroning Cal State Fullerton atop the Big West standings. The camaraderie on this team is evident every time a hitter returns to the dugout or the defense comes off the field. If the Anteaters can stay healthy – something they’ve been unable to do the last two seasons – this could be another magical season in Orange County.

For Cal, this is a continuation of a disappointing mid-week performance against Stanford. Cal batters struck out 13 times in tonight’s game. That’s 13 of 27 outs! If you include the Stanford game, the Golden Bears have struck out 23 times in the last 18 innings of play.

In addition to that, the Golden Bears only managed to have four hits that were “no doubters” meaning they unquestionably were dropping for hits. ┬áThe pitching staff has big questions too. Justin Jones, the teams ace, came into tonight’s game with a 10.80 ERA after lasting only 3.1 inning versus Michigan last week.

He lasted only 4 inning tonight after surrendering three more runs. The bullpen didn’t fare much better. Keaton Siomkin did an admirable job, allowing only one hit to the seven batters he faced, but Trevor Hildenberger took the loss after surrendering four hits and two runs in his one inning of work. Head coach David Esquer and his staff have their work cut out for them if the Bears are to make noise in the ultra-competitive Pac-12.