March 2, 2008

Around the Bases

Around the Bases
Linton, Stowell help UC Irvine stifle San Francisco 4-0
By Phil Stanton Co-Founder


IRVINE, Calif. - UC Irvine likes the number zero.


The Anteaters kept it in the loss column as they raised their mark to 6-0 in recording their second straight 4-0 victory over San Francisco Saturday afternoon at Anteater Ballpark.


Sophomore right-hander Bryce Stowell (1-0) was responsible for most the zeroes on the scoreboard for the Dons (3-4). Stowell tossed the first seven innings for UCI with two hits, two walks and five strikeouts.


“Just a good, good, good feeling to get that first win,” Stowell said. “We played great today. I wanted to come out and establish the fastball right away and take it one hitter at a time, one pitch at a time, and I think I did that today.”


UCI head coach Mike Gillespie added: “I think Stowell was really good. I think he took a big step forward in terms of both command of everything, which I think does nothing but jack his confidence, but I think his stamina was much better too. Last time he pitched, it was 40-below so this might be more like it for him.”


Junior outfielder Ollie Linton figured into all the scoring for the Anteaters. He was 3 for 3 with a run, RBI, stolen base and sacrifice bunt.


For the first time this season, UCI scored in the first inning. Junior Ben Orloff led off with a base hit to right and moved to second when the ball got away from the right fielder. He was sacrificed to third by Linton and came in on a base hit by sophomore Francis Larson.


The home team doubled its lead in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, junior Tony Asaro beat out a grounder to third and moved to second as freshman Tyler Hoechlin reached on a bunt single. With two outs, Linton’s base hit to right plated Asaro with the second run.


The Dons had their best chance to score in the eighth. With junior Matt Dufour on the mound in relief of Stowell, senior Matt Lieb doubled to right-center and advanced to third when the ball was not fielded cleanly. Sophomore Sam Wiley fisted a slow come-backer to Dufour, who looked Lieb back before throwing Wiley out at first. Sophomore lefty Daniel Bibona came on to strike out senior Joey Railey on a 3-2 curveball on the inside corner. Bibona closed out the inning by enticing senior Tavo Hall to ground out to third.


UCI added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth. Linton roped a single to right to open the inning, stole second, moved to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a squeeze bunt by freshman Ryan Fisher. Sophomore Jeff Cusick got a two-out base hit to left, stole second and scored on a single up the middle by junior Eric Deragisch to push the lead to 4-0.


“That’s a day like he can be,” Gillespie said of Linton. “He’s a catalyst. Those two guys at the top of the lineup will give you some of those days. When [they] do, it’s going to result in some runs. He can create havoc, and he does. He’s a real, real plus offensive player. He’s a real plus defensive player. He can get you going on offense, and he did today.”


Said Linton: “I’m in that spot where I’ve got to be comfortable seeing all different types of pitches. I’m a situational hitter. I have to know my role in that spot. In that spot, I had to put a sacrifice down. In another spot I had to clutch up and tried to be myself.”


Linton had been hitting leadoff, but recently was moved to No. 2.


“We thought it might take a little pressure off Ollie in terms of the strike zone,” Gillespie said. “If there’s a flaw in his game, it’s that he tends to be a little aggressive and chase; we thought [Orloff] was more suited in terms of patience.”


Linton said he feels “more relaxed” in the second spot and is “just seeing different pitches than when I was leading off.  I wasn’t patient enough when I was up in the one-spot. Now I feel a little more relaxed in the two-spot.”


After managing just one hit in Friday’s series opener against Scott Gorgen, USF could muster only four hits against Stowell and three relievers.