May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Irvine’s Ryan Barlow comes close to a perfect game as Vaqueros top University 4-0

Irvine pitcher Ryan Barlow throws a warm-up pitch to catcher Bubba Filia Tuesday. (Photos: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

Irvine’s baseball team solidified its position on third place in the Pacific Coast League defeating University 4-0 Tuesday afternoon at Irvine.

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There was some added drama in the game as Irvine pitcher Ryan Barlow had a perfect game going before it was broken up by an infield single by Beckett Kreter with one out in the sixth inning. Barlow finished the game allowing just one hit and striking out eight.

Kreter hit a slow roller down the third base side. Third baseman J.C. Allen tried to charge the ball in a desperation play but was not able to come up with it and the play was ruled an infield single.

“We have the type of mentality this year that they don’t let something like that affect them,” said Irvine Coach Gabriel Cota. “He gets the next two guys out and no one dwells on it or gave the kid any flack. Barlow was amazing today. It’s kind of what we come to expect of him. All the credit to their kid too (Adam Axtell). He kept us in check, that’s for sure. He kept us off balance for sure.”

Barlow said he was proud of all of his teammates.

“It was one pitch at a time coming into the first inning getting one, two, three and the second inning one, two three,” the junior said.

“It felt pretty good and my defense made plays, all the hard plays: all the hits to left field, Leonard (Memon) ran around and caught some balls and everybody contributed and runs came in when they had to and JC made a great effort but that’s just the way it rolls, that’s how baseball works and I don’t really care about the perfect game. As long as we got the win, that’s all that matters.”

Irvine (12-7, 6-4) now has a two-game lead over University (9-12, 4-6) for third place. The teams play again Friday at University.

“That’s a huge game for us,” Cota said. “On Friday, we’re going to have to battle and hope to come out on top.”

Axtell was tough on the mound against Irvine through three innings.

But in the fourth inning, Memon doubled with two outs and scored on a triple down the right field line by Casey Kudell to put the Vaqueros ahead 1-0.

Irvine added three more runs in the sixth inning. Bubba Filia led off with a deep double to right field, Grant Lockwood singled to put runners on first and third and Patrick Hackworth reached on an error to load the bases. University Coach Michael Thompson brought in the ace of the staff Brad Hodges.

But Kudell and Camron Hicks earned bases loaded walks to drive in runs and Isaac Hong had a single to drive in another. Kudell was thrown out at home for the third out.

Barlow then retired University in order in the seventh.

“He did a great job and battled,” Thompson said of Axtell’s effort on the mound.”They did a good job with two outs getting two hits to score the first run and it was a battle from there. Their guy did a great job.

“We definitely needed that one so it makes Friday that much more important. They’re all important, but next Friday is kind of a must-win situation for us.”

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone;