April 12, 2008

Around the Bases

CBI Live
No. 6 UC Irvine Offense Earns Win at No. 19 L

By Abbey Mastracco



LONG BEACH, Calif. — In a game that was characterized by a series of what could best be described as retaliatory plays with no clear winner emerging, it was No. 6 UC Irvine that eventually won late in the game, and won big, over No. 19 Long Beach State.


A packed Blair Field crowd of 2,181 fueled the intensity with every pitch, as bitter Big West Conference rivals Long Beach State (1-3, 18-13) and UC Irvine (4-3, 22-5) engaged in a more than a four hour-long battle royale until Tony Asaro eliminated the Dirtbags’ chances with a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth, allowing the Anteaters to overtake the Dirtbags 10-5.


Irvine’s Casey Stevenson led the game going 3 for 5 with two runs, including a solo homer. Aaron Lowenstein finished 3 for 4, scoring twice and throwing out 2 for 3 on the basepaths. For the Dirtbags, Jonathan Jones went 2 for 5 with two runs and Danny Espinosa went 3 for 4 with two RBI.


In what was expected to be one of the most highly-anticipated pitching match-ups on the West Coast between Irvine’s Scott Gorgen and Long Beach’s Andrew Liebel, the numbers were strikingly similar to begin with, as each pitcher entered Friday night’s contest with a 1.93 ERA in seven starts. Both had 50-plus innings pitched and 50-plus strikeouts, with Gorgen (6-2) having 11 earned runs charged to him and Liebel (3-2) 12.


The numbers finished similar as well, with Liebel giving up four earned on 13 hits in 6.2 innings, walking none and striking out five. Gorgen lasted 6.1 innings, allowing three earned on eight hits, punching out four and walking five (two intentional). Each pitcher hit one batter as well.


The Dirtbags started off strong, putting up a run in the second and matching the Anteaters’ nearly run-for-run for several innings and playing solid defense.


Francis Larson helped the Anteaters to a slim 2-1 lead in the fourth by knocking a solo shot out of the park. But the Dirtbags came back in the fifth, with Jason Corder sparking a two-run rally to take the lead.


A leadoff single by Jones and a Shane Peterson walk put two men aboard with Corder, the Dirtbags’ hottest and deepest hitter, at the plate. After two intentional walks, Gorgen dealt Corder a fastball that he sliced over the head of a jumping Ben Orloff at shortstop to tie the game. Devin Lohman doubled to drive in the lead.


Liebel pitched himself into trouble shortly thereafter, giving the Anteaters a one-run lead after surrendering five straight hits, a double and four consecutive singles.


The Dirtbags gave way from there, as the pace of the game slowed, the Anteater runs increased. Long Beach head coach Mike Weathers was nearly tossed after getting in heated argument with the entire umpire crew twice within one half inning.


The series continues Saturday at 2 p.m. at Blair Field with Vance Worley slated to square off on the hill for Long Beach against Irvine’s Bryce Stowell.