CORVALLIS, Ore. — A two-run double by junior first baseman Connor Spencer keyed a five-run fifth inning to propel UC Irvine to a 10-3 baseball victory over UNLV in the opening round of the four-team NCAA Regional on Friday at Oregon State University.
Spencer was two for four with three runs batted in, while Evan Cassolato, Jerry McClanahan and Chris Rabago added two RBIs apiece for the Anteaters (36-22), who halted a six-game losing streak to advance to Saturday's 8 p.m. winner's bracket semifinal against Oregon State, which beat North Dakota State, 2-1.
Taylor Sparks, batting leadoff, was three for five with two runs scored for UCI, for which junior All-American and Big West Conference pitcher of the year Andrew Morales pitched seven strong innings to earn the victory.
Morales, now 10-2 this season, rebounded from two straight losses after he had won his first 19 decisions as an Anteater. He allowed four hits and three runs (two earned) with four strikeouts and three walks.
Mitch Merten and Matt Fielding each worked one scoreless, hitless relief inning as UCI, seeded No. 3 in the regional, posted an 11-4 advantage in hits.
After No. 2-seeded UNLV (35-24) took a 2-0 lead on a two-run home run by Pat Armstrong in the second inning, UCI scored two in the third to tie. UCI added single runs in the sixth, eighth and ninth as UNLV starter John Richy was tagged for nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits over 7 2/3 innings to fall to 11-4.
Jonathan Munoz was two for five, while Kris Paularino and Adam Alcantara added hits for the 'Eaters, who have won their last four NCAA Regional contests and are now 14-4 in regional play since 2007.
"It's win No. 1 in a regional, so we're fired up to get that win," UCI Coach Mike Gillespie said. "It was a combination, as everyone in this room saw, of some big hits and a lot of opportunities."
— From staff reports