HOUSTON–It’s about 20 degrees cooler here today than it was yesterday, and the wind is howling through Minute Maid Park, causing debris to swirl through the outfield, the game to be stopped now and then by dirt clouds, and fans (and media in the open-air press box) to huddle under blankets. It’s a bright, sunny day, but it might be time to close the roof if only to block the wind.
As for the UC Irvine-Houston game, it’s not proving to be much of an appetizer for this afternoon’s main course (the Gerrit Cole-Kendal Volz showdown). The Anteaters used a five-run fourth to break this game open, and three Raynor Noble pitching changes in the frame helped slow the pace to a crawl. It’s 9-1 UC Irvine in the top of the fifth inning, and this game is already more than two hours old.
Cougars sophomore lefthander Ty Stuckey actually looked good for the first three innings, using his 89-91 mph fastball, 75-79 slider and an occasional low-70s changeup to record six strikeouts through three. But Irvine knocked him from the game in typical Anteater fashion, putting together a rally on a hit batsman, an error, two wild pitches and two walks, as well as three hits.
Irvine junior righthander Christian Bergman is in complete control, allowing just one run on four hits and no walks while striking out five through the first five innings. His stuff isn’t overpowering, but his low-three-quarters arm slot helps give his 85-89 mph fastball plenty of life, and his location is excellent. He also uses a very good 77-79 changeup and mixes in a 72-76 curveball.
I’d say Irvine outfielder Dillon Bell just dashed any lingering hope of a Houston comeback, belting a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole to give UCI an eight-run lead in the sixth. That’s two homers today for the usually power-deficient ‘Eaters (No. 9 hitter D.J. Crumich has the other, a solo shot to put Irvine on the board in the third inning).
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