Andrew Kittredge (UW Media Relations)
SEATTLE - Freshman Andrew Kittredge struck out Brock Bardeen with the tying run at second base to save a 13-12 win by Washington over 10th ranked UC Irvine in the finale of a two game non-conference series at Husky Ballpark on a chilly but sunny Wednesday afternoon.
A day after combining to score 30 runs in the first game of the series, won by the Anteaters, the two teams came back and put 25 more runs on the scoreboard in another wild contest. Aaron Russell led the Husky offense, going 3 for 5 with his first two home runs of the season and six runs batted in, while Kyle Conley added a 2 for 4 effort with his eighth home run and four RBI as the Huskies (9-12) rallied from 5-0 and 8-4 deficits to split the series with the Anteaters (13-7).
The Huskies led 13-8 going into the top of the ninth inning but the Anteaters rallied for four runs. Francis Larson led off with an infield single against freshman reliever Seth Haehl (1-0) and pinch hitter Jordan Leyland followed with a two run homer, his first of the season, over the right field wall to make it 13-10.
A day after the Anteaters roughed up Kittredge, Husky head coach Ken Knutson had enough confidence in him to call on him again, this time to nail down the win. It looked as if the Anteaters might hand Kittredge a similar unkind fate again when Dillon Bell walked on four pitches and Casey Stevenson hit an apparent double off the glove of Brendan Gardner-Young. However, the Huskies got a huge break when they appealed Stevenson's double. They thought he never touched first base, and when shortstop David Bentrott threw to first baseman Troy Scott, umpire Scott Williams upheld the appeal, and Stevenson got called out. So instead of having Kittredge in a real tight jam with runners at second and third with none out, the Anteaters had a runner at third with one out.
That would loom large when Bell scored on a line single to center by Cory Olson, making it 13-11. Olson took second on catcher indifference and scored to make it 13-12 when third baseman Russell threw a slow dribbler by Ben Orloff past first base for an error. Orloff moved to second on the play and represented the tying run with Bardeen coming to bat. After hitting two home runs against the Huskies on Tuesday night he was probably the last guy the Huskies wanted to see at the plate with the game on the line. Fortunately Kittredge got ahead of Bardeen in the count 1-2, and after a ball evened the count at 2-2, caught Bardeen looking at a called third strike to end the game. Kittredge recorded his first career save and also gave Haehl his first career victory.
The Anteaters began the game where they left off on Tuesday, sending 10 batters to the plate in the first inning against starter Adrian Gomez and scoring five runs to lead 5-0. Ronnie Shaeffer and Jeff Cusick had run scoring singled and Ryan Fisher pulled a 1-1 pitch from Gomez over the right field wall for a three run homer, his second. Remarkably, despite allowing the five runs, Gomez threw first pitch strikes to nine of the ten batters and strikes on 28 of the 38 total pitches he threw in the inning.
The Huskies wasted no time getting back into the game in the bottom of the first, making it 5-3 on a towering three run homer by Conley over the left field wall off Irvine starter Nick Hoover. They then made it 5-4 in the bottom of the fourth on a two out solo homer by Russell off the screen in center field.
UC Irvine expanded its lead back to 8-4 with three runs in the top of the fifth against reliever Paul Dickey. Fisher drove in one run with a groundout and Eric Deragisch plated two with a double.
The Huskies however continued to battle back, one run at a time. They made it 8-5 in the bottom of the fifth when Brady McGuire led off with a double, his first career hit, and scored on a fielder's choice groundout by Conley. In the bottom of the sixth they made it 8-6 courtesy of Bentrott's second homer of the season, a line shot that just cleared the wall in right center.
Then, in the bottom of the seventh, the Huskies exploded for six runs and a 12-8 lead, sending 11 batters to the plate. All the runs came with two outs. Conley got the inning started when he drew a four pitch walk from Bardeen and advanced to third on a hit and run single by Scott off Kyle Necke (0-2). Jake Rife walked to load the bases and bring up Russell, who drove a one strike pitch from Necke over the wall in right center for a grand slam and a 10-8 Husky lead. Washington then added two more runs on a bases loaded two run single by Julien Pollard.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Huskies got a single run, the run that would prove decisive, and went up 13-8 when Conley led off with a double and scored on a two out double by Russell.
Following a travel day, the Huskies begin the Pac-10 season with a three game series at Stanford from Friday, March 27 to Sunday, March 29.
Friday's opener will begin at 5:30 p.m., with first pitch on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.