April 14, 2008

Around the Bases

CBI Live
Bibona pitches UC Irvine to series win at Long Beach State

By Abbey Mastracco



LONG BEACH, Calif. — Pitching made all the difference at Blair Field Sunday, as UC Irvine closed out a Big West Conference series win with a 4-1 decision over Long Beach State.


The young guns took the hill Sunday, with sophomore Daniel Bibona dueling the Dirtbags’ would-be high school senior Jake Thompson. Thompson was roughed up early last weekend in Riverside and was only slightly more impressive in the early innings as he gave up two runs in the second and two more in the sixth.


“They can pitch,” said Long Beach State head coach Mike Weathers. “They come at you and they’re very disciplined. They throw the ball pretty much where they want.”


Thompson gave up two straight bloopers to Francis Larson and Casey Stevenson to start the top of the second for UCI (5-4, 23-6). Runners were advanced on a sac bunt, and Dillon Bell hit a lazy fly to center field, driving in Larson. After Josh Tavelli was walked, Aaron Lowenstein chopped a ball up the middle to send home Stevenson.


Long Beach (2-4, 19-14) came back in the bottom of the inning to cut the Anteaters’ lead in half, as Jason Corder launched the first pitch of the inning over the left field wall for his ninth homer of the season.


The Dirtbags threatened in the fourth, poised to break open the game with runners in scoring position. But a double play and an easy grounder ended the threat to save Bibona’s stellar outing. The Anteaters’ southpaw went 6.1 innings, giving up just six hits, walking one and blanking five. Bibona’s only earned run surrendered was Corder’s jack.


“Danny, he’s the man,” said Lowenstein, his catcher. “He’s matured so much as a player. He just goes right after guys; he’s not scared at all. He’ll throw any pitch in any count and today he was hitting his spots just like he always does.”


Nick Vincent attempted to save the Dirtbags, putting down eight of nine over 2.2 innings and fanning three, but received no run support — something Vincent has almost gotten used to not seeing during the Dirtbags current skid of 11 losses in 13 games.


“We’ve just given up a lot of runs in like the fifth and sixth innings,” Vincent said. “We were pitching them really good in the beginning, but our pitching has kind of gone back a little. But I think if we start getting our pitching back up there we’ll be back to the same team we were.”


The mostly defensive Lowenstein picked up his offense this weekend, hitting safely in two games and going 2 for 3 with three RBI Sunday. Francis Larson, Ben Orloff and Jeff Cusick also recorded multi-hit games for the Anteaters.