IRVINE, Calif. — UC Irvine wanted an insurance run.
Leading 3-2, the Anteaters got a leadoff walk from Grant Palmer to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Head coach Mike Gillespie had Chris Rabago sacrifice Palmer to second base to set up preseason All-Americans Taylor Sparks and Connor Spencer, who combined for 159 hits and 85 RBI in 55 games last season.
All Sparks or Spencer needed was to knock a base hit. But instead, Sparks racked up his seventh strikeout in four games and Spencer grounded out to end the inning — and continued the Sparks/Spencer First Hit Watch that is now a combined 31 at bats deep. Two All-Americans now 0-for-31.