IRVINE, Calif. – A strong pitching effort by No. 30 UC Irvine provided trouble for No. 23 Baylor's offense as the Anteaters (2-0) held the Bears (0-2) to three hits in a 5-0 win on Saturday afternoon at Anteater Ballpark. Matt Whitehouse and Kyle Hooper combined for the shutout, allowing seven base runners on three hits, three hit batsmen and one walk with 10 strikeouts.
"They played well, pitched it well," said Head Coach Steve Smith of the Anteaters. "Both of their guys pitched well. I thought we competed well. It's early in the year – not ready to push the panic button. You never know exactly what you've got until you start playing someone else and see how your guys respond. This year is no different than any other year. When you come on the road and play people that are playing the game as well as they are, particularly on the mound, you learn some things about yourself."
Much like Friday's season opener, UCI did its damage with two outs right off the bat. After Max Garner looked like he would strand a second-inning leadoff double, Jerry McClanahan poked a ball just out of the reach of Cal Towey's diving effort at third for a two-out RBI single. Chris Rabago backed it up with an RBI double to center, and that would be all the scoring the Anteaters needed.
Baylor's scoring chances came in the first, fifth and sixth innings but Whitehouse was up to the challenge each time. In the first, Adam Toth was hit by a pitch with one out and stole second, but was left stranded after a fly out by Brett Doe and strikeout by Cal Towey.
In the fifth, the Bears made Whitehouse uncomfortable, but again, were unable to take full advantage. With two outs, Jake Miller roped a double to left-center. Then Logan Brown was hit by a pitch to set up Jimmy Landes. After falling behind in the count, Whiteside induced a fly out to right to escape unscathed.
Another Toth hit-by-pitch started a sixth inning chance with one out. Toth then took second on a wild pitch. However, Whitehouse calmly retired Doe on a pop to center and Towey on a grounder to short.
Whitehouse didn't need it, but he received more support in the fourth and fifth. Ronnie Shaeffer grounded out to third to bring home one of two walks by Garner that started the frame. The run was the first of the series for UCI with less than two outs.
In the fifth, a leadoff triple came around on a pinch-hit single by Grant Palmer. Then with two outs, Connor Spencer drove in the final run of the game on a single up the middle.
Transitioning from the back end of the bullpen last year to the middle of the rotation this year, Garner (0-1) showed promise as a starter. The senior was near flawless in the first and third frames as he compiled three strikeouts in 3.2 innings.
"Max was pretty sharp," Smith said. "He got to the fourth, led it off with a couple walks. I honestly thought he threw the ball pretty well in his first time out."
Whitehouse earned his first win, throwing 6.1 shutout innings and giving up two hits and one walk with six strikeouts. Kyle Hooper finished the final 2.2 innings, surrendering only one hit while striking out four.
Spencer paced the Anteaters with two hits, a run scored and run driven in. Miller, Brown and Duncan Wendel provided Baylor's three hits.
The teams wrap up the season opening series tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. CT. The slated pitchers are BU RHP Dillon Newman (2012: 4-4, 2.40 ERA) and UCI RHP Evan Brock (2012: 2-1, 2.12 ERA).
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