June 5, 2010

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CBI Live
Anteaters Feast on Flashes

By Ryan Eshoff

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


Ryan Eshoff is a rising junior at UCLA, a native of San Jose, and has seen more of California than is recommended. He has been on the sports staff of the Daily Bruin newspaper his entire UCLA career, spending the last year as an assistant sports editor and preparing to become a senior writer. He has covered the entire breadth of Bruin sports and considers himself, for better or worse, the world's foremost expert on UCLA water polo. In his less than copious amounts of free time, Ryan fights the East Coast bias and roots rabidly for the San Jose Sharks, the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Dodgers while wishing there was an NBA franchise in the Bay Area.


LOS ANGELES – The UC Irvine Anteaters feasted on Kent State pitching, scoring in every inning en route to a 19-9 victory Saturday afternoon that eliminated the Golden Flashes from the postseason.


Irvine catcher Francis Larson hit his third home run of the Regional and drove in four, while second baseman Casey Stevenson picked up five hits and scored four runs to lead a balanced attack.


"Up and down the lineup, we took a lot of good at-bats," Larson said. "I thought everybody did a good job driving the ball. When somebody hits, everybody hits. It's a very contagious lineup."


Kent State did its part to fill up the scoreboard as well, albeit not in a way it would have preferred. The Golden Flashes committed four errors on the day, including two in the first inning that led to five Anteater runs.


Staked to that big lead, UC Irvine starter Christian Bergman was able to cruise through his five innings of work.


"When you score five in the first, it makes my job easier," Bergman said. "Just go out there and throw strikes and not worry too much about the results because you know we’ve got the offense to back it up. That's really what it came down to."


The senior right-hander gave up one run on five hits before being lifted in a moment of "strategery" – as head coach Mike Gillespie put it – in case Bergman needs to pitch later in the weekend.


Kent State was certainly glad to see the Anteaters starter get the rest of the night off; the Golden Flashes struck for eight runs in the sixth inning against the UCI bullpen. Fortunately for the Anteaters, they had already scored 15 runs of their own by that time, and Kent State never got closer than 15-9.


"We are concerned about our bullpen," Gillespie acknowledged, before adding, with an air of mystery: "We've got a couple of secret weapons though that we haven’t used yet."


The victory keeps the third-seeded Anteaters alive in the Los Angeles regional. They will play the loser of Saturday night's duel between UCLA and LSU on Sunday morning. Gillespie noted that Evan Brock – who pitched in relief on Friday – would get the nod Sunday morning, but that the Anteaters would have to play it by ear beyond that.


One thing for sure, though, is that the UC Irvine bats are clicking. A day after scoring 10 runs on 18 hits in a loss to LSU, UC Irvine pounded out 21 hits Saturday in scoring 19 runs and putting up a number on the scoreboard in every inning.


Larson, for one, was blunt in describing his own offensive approach this weekend.


"Yeah," he said of the three home runs. "Trying to hit it out."