Aztecs Edged at No. 15/17 UC Irvine, 4-3

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Trevor Beal

IRVINE, Calif. – San Diego State was unable to complete a late rally on Friday, as No. 15/17 UC Irvine held on for a 4-3 victory in the opener of a non-conference weekend series at Anteater Ballpark.

Trailing 4-0, the Aztecs (11-26) got on the board in the sixth when Jacob McCombs launched a solo homer before narrowing the gap on consecutive RBI singles by Jake Jackson and Manoah Chapman in the eighth.

However, former SDSU pitcher Ricky Tibbett took the mound and recorded the final four outs of the game, preserving the win for the Anteaters (26-8) with his seventh save of the season.

UCI starter Nick Pinto (7-2) picked up the win after yielding two runs in 7 2/3 innings, offsetting six hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts, while Jacob Riordan (3-4) dropped his third straight decision for the Scarlet and Black.

Riordan was beset by five walks and four hit batters in six innings, allowing four runs on six hits with five strikeouts before Jadon Bercovich (3 SO) pitched two scoreless frames to end the contest.

The Anteaters plated the first two markers in the game after Myles Smith and Will Bermudez each drew walks in the second, sandwiched around a pop fly. Smith advanced on a wild pitch and promptly scored on Chase Call's double down the left-field line, while Bermudez raced home on James Castagnola's sacrifice fly.

UCI increased its advantage with two outs in the fourth when Caden Kendle and Smith each delivered RBI singles, giving the host school a 4-0 cushion. Castagnola led off the inning with a base hit up the middle but was erased on Jo Oyama's fielder's choice to second after Woody Hadeen struck out.

However, Oyama advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt before beating the throw to the plate on Kendle's bouncer through the left side, while Anthony Martinez and Smith followed with consecutive singles, the latter of which brought in Kendle.

The score remained unchanged until the sixth when McCombs crushed the first pitch he saw from Pinto over the fence in right-center for his fourth homer of the season.

SDSU continued to chip away at the deficit in the eighth after Irvin Weems beat out an infield hit to short with two outs, as Nick Rincover replaced Pinto at this juncture on the hill.

However, Rincover was ineffective, allowing three straight singles to McCombs, Jackson and the pinch hitter Chapman. Jackson's grounder through the right side plated Weems, while McCombs touched home on Chapman's seeing-eye hit up the middle.

With runners at first and second, Tibbett was summoned from the bullpen and quickly extinguished the Aztec threat, as Jackson was forced out on pinch hitter Evan Sipe's tapper to third.

Stung, SDSU went quietly in the ninth, as Tibbett needed just four pitches to retire the side.

Jackson led all players with three hits, while McCombs finished with two hits and two runs scored in the loss.

The San Diego State-UC Irvine series shifts venues on Saturday, April 20, when the teams square off at Tony Gwynn Stadium on the SDSU campus. Game time is set for 6 p.m. PT, and the contest will air live on the Mountain West Network.

Fans who show proof of admission to the Aztec Fast Football Showcase earlier in the afternoon will receive free admission as well to the Aztecs-Anteaters baseball game that evening.

In addition, the first 500 fans in attendance Saturday at Tony Gwynn Stadium will receive a free SDSU license plate frame.