UC Irvine had just completed a sweep of San Jose State in a Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. doubleheader Saturday at Irvine, and that meant it was time for Lanny DeRose to break out the rake. It was DeRose's turn to pull a little field maintenance duty.
Just a couple of hours earlier, DeRose had been summoned from the Irvine bullpen with the first game very much in jeopardy. He came in with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning. Irvine was leading by one run, and San Jose State's No. 4 and 5 hitters were coming up.
DeRose got Terry Conway to hit into a force-out at the plate, then he retired Earl Boles on a ground out to preserve a 5-4 win. UCI came back from a 4-3 deficit in the second game to win, 7-4, and complete the sweep that improves its PCAA record to 5-2 and overall mark to 16-12-1.
Designated hitter Don Davis got the game-winning RBI in the first game, doubling to the gap in right-center to score Tom Baine with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. It was Davis' second hit and second RBI of the game. Paul Hammond was 3 for 4 with the game-winning RBI to lead the Anteaters to the victory in the second game.
Afterward, DeRose could be found raking the mound in the visitors' bullpen, his first-game heroics seemingly forgotten. He and Doug Linton, who worked 8 innings and got the win in the first game, had chores to do.
"Maybe I redeemed myself for those brutal appearences my last few times out," DeRose said. "I've been (blowing) wins lately. I finally got one for Doug. He's been one of my victims."
DeRose, a former Golden West College and Bolsa Grande High School pitcher, was talked out of an early retirement in the off-season by UCI Coach Mike Gerakos. DeRose had become disenchanted with the baseball program at Nevada Reno and was considering leaving his playing days behind him.
"I was going to quit playing and just finish up school, but the coach called me and said they needed some pitching help," he said.
Thus, DeRose transferred to UCI, where he became Gerakos' bullpen stopper. But, in recent outings, he's been starting more than stopping. Consider:
- Last Tuesday, he gave up three earned runs in 1 innings and took the loss in a 10-7 setback to Pepperdine.
- On March 16, he gave up one earned run in two-thirds of an inning, but managed to escape with a 5-4 win over Cal State Long Beach.
- On March 15, also against Long Beach, he came in with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and gave up a triple that tied the game at 8-8. UCI rallied to win it, 9-8, in the bottom of the ninth, and DeRose was awarded the win.
This time, however, DeRose earned the save. In the ninth, he got Conway to ground sharply to first baseman Baine, who threw pinch-runner Brendan Ragotzy out at the plate on a force play. DeRose ended it by getting Boles on a ground ball to second baseman Ed Clark.
"We got some timely hitting and good defense in the first game and a good relief performance from Lanny," Gerakos said. "He's been throwing ground balls, but the ground balls have been going through. Today, they were hit right at people."
Linton kept the Anteaters close with some big pitches in crucial situations. He used a sweeping curveball to strike out Steve Ochoa with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Ochoa has been the PCAA Player of the Week for the past two weeks and came into the doubleheader hitting .556 with 12 RBIs in conference play. He was hitless against Linton, including an intentional walk in the ninth.
Irvine scored three runs, two of them unearned, in the first inning of the second game, but San Jose State (7-7, 13-19) used the long ball to get back in the game. Boles hit a two-run home run off starter Craig Brink in the second inning, and Ron Rooker and Jeff Nollette hit back-to-back homers in the fourth to give the Spartans a short-lived, 4-3 lead.
Rooker's home run came after he had told Irvine catcher Steve Morgan to "shut up" in an exchange of words near the plate.
Rooker stood near the plate to watch his home run clear the right-field fence, then raised his fist in the direction of the Irvine dugout as he slowly rounded first base. By that point, the former Orange Coast College pitcher was hardly a crowd favorite.
"I've known Ron for a long time, and he's a great kid," Gerakos said. "The fans were really on him. I think his gesture was meant more toward our fans than our players."
San Jose State second baseman Mark Saucedo went hitless in the second game, snapping his hitting streak at 21 consecutive games. The teams conclude the series today with one game, beginning at 1 p.m.
In other PCAA action:
Fresno State 15-4, Cal State Fullerton 7-9--The Bulldogs and Titans split their doubleheader at Fresno.
In the first game, Eric Fox and Bob Bafia each hit two-run homers to pace the Bulldog attack as Ken Crew (6-1) pitched eight innings for the win. Jef Garcia went 3 for 4 with one RBI for the Titans, but it wasn't enough.
The Titans rebounded to take the second game as Shane Turner went 3 for 3 with two doubles, two RBIs and three runs scored. John Fishel and Kevin Reimer each went 2 for 4. Mike Belanger (7-1) picked up the win for the Titans.
Fullerton's record is 18-18-1 overall and 9-5 in conference. Fresno State is 21-13 and 10-4.
Fullerton meets Loyola Marymount in a nonconference game at 2:30 p.m. on Monday at Titan Field.
In other college action:
Christ College 9-6, West Coast College 8-9--The two Western Christian Athletic Assn. teams split a doubleheader at Christ College Saturday. Christ College (4-3 in conference) hosts Southern California College on Monday.