For the first time since 2005, UCI Baseball (19-14, 4-5 Big West) is in danger of not extending their season into postseason play.
After taking care of business against Dartmouth and Pacific, sweeping both teams at home, UCI suffered a disastrous sweep at the hands of Big West contender Cal Poly.
This past weekend, UCI had a grand opportunity to right the ship against powerhouse rival Cal State Fullerton. After a rainout on Friday, Andrew Thurman took the mound in game one of the Saturday doubleheader and absolutely dominated a strong Titan lineup. Keeping CSF batters off-balance with a full command of all of his pitches, Thurman carried a no-hitter into the top of the ninth. Unfortunately, Titan LF Austin Kingsolver broke up the no-no bid with a little dribbler that took too long to get to UCI’s DJ Crumlich at shortstop. The ensuing throw was too late, and just like that, a measly infield hit had ruined Thurman’s chance of history. Nonetheless, Thurman’s effort was good enough to earn him Big West Co-Pitcher of the Week and ESPN Zone Anaheim Anteater of the Week accolades.
Unfortunately, neither Crosby Slaught nor the combination of Jimmy LitchfieldandPhillip Ferragamowere able to follow in Thurman’s footsteps, as CSF won the next two games 13-2 and 5-3. A win against San Diego State this past Tuesday helps UCI, but it’s clear that Mike Gillespie’s gang needs to step it up a notch if they want to return to postseason play for the seventh straight season.
There’s no getting around how devastating the loss of both Matt Whitehouse and Kyle Hooper to injuries has been to this team. Whitehouse was the clear ace coming in while Hooper was just coming into his own this season, providing the Anteaters with a second ace and a lively arm. Now, guys like Litchfield and Ferragamo are being pressed into action when they may be better served in the bullpen.
According to WarrenNolan.com, UCI’s RPI is currently 69, which would not bode well at all for an at-large bid. If UCI’s pitching doesn’t get healthy, it may be hard for UCI to make it back to the NCAA Tournament. Next up is another crucial Big West weekend series with the Dirtbags of Long Beach State.