*Written by Weekly intern and UCI New University student paper managing editor David Nicolas...
The UC Irvine Anteaters baseball team put down the Fresno Bulldogs in the first game of the Irvine NCAA regional playoff series, edging the 'Dogs 4-2. UCI's starting pitcher Daniel Bibona quieted Fresno's pingy metal bats and put in seven and two-thirds innings of work, giving up just five hits and striking out 14 batters. It was Bibona-mination!
This is UCI's third-straight appearance in the College World Series regional tournament and the first time it has hosted one. The team was ranked number one at the end of the regular season, holding on to the spot longer than any other team this year. The team's performance wasn't enough for the big name-favoring NCAA, which gave Texas the number one seed in the tournament. For most of this season, the 'Eaters have gotten no love from anyone, not those hacks on ESPN, not the County, not even the student population. Yes, ESPN cameras were there last night, but it focused on the matinee match up that featured Virginia and San Diego State. San Diego fireball thrower Stephan Strasburg's golden arm was not enough for the Aztecs as they dropped a game. But, according to those "sports analysts," a big name loser is all a top highlight video needs. The success of a number one team? Not so much.
Last night's victory for UCI, though, was a testament to how baseball is supposed to be played, a reputation that the program has built ever since its 2002 resurrection. UCI stayed patient at the plate, laid down the bunt when it had to, made clean defensive plays, and most importantly, got the clutch hits. So, in good Anteater fashion, here are some zot highlights. Why zot you say? Because it's the sound an anteater makes when it sticks its tongue out, silly.
Zot 1: Bulldog fans hiding in embarrassment after UCI scored four runs with two outs in the fourth inning.
Zot 2: Some drunk ex-'Eater player talk about getting cut from the team, and then seeing him share the same sob story to a fellow female fan. He got her name, but not her phone number.
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Zot 3: The gigantic "Thank God I'm an Anteater" banner hung on the parking structure next to the ballpark in all of its gold-and-blue glory.
Final Zot: Hearing a 13-year-old UCI fan say he had post-game plans with the mother of an obnoxiously upset Bulldog after Fresno lost. Your mother raised you right, kid.
UCI will play Virginia tonight at 8 p.m.