Photo courtesy of UCR Athletics.

The Highlander baseball team’s (16-26, 5-10) first game of the week was on Tuesday in San Diego against the San Diego State Aztecs (32-15, 14-8).

The Aztecs got out to a quick start, scoring seven runs in the first three innings. Meanwhile, Riverside was struggling to get on the board and only brought in one run during that same stretch. The Highlanders responded later in the game by scoring five runs in the final six innings, but it wouldn’t be enough to hold off SDSU, who scored again in the seventh inning to secure an 8-6 victory.

Although the team was unable to complete the comeback and ultimately lost, there were still standout performers, most notably junior Yeager Taylor, who became the first Highlander this season to go 4-4 at the plate. Redshirt senior infielder Colby Schultz also contributed to the comeback by scoring two runs and hitting two RBI’s.

UCR’s bats eventually caught fire, but the team’s poor pitching to start the game put the team in an insurmountable hole. The game quickly got out of hand when freshman relief pitcher Abbott Haffar was put into the game. Haffar was only able to get one batter out, but surrendered four earned runs before being pulled out of the game.

The Highlanders were back in Riverside for their second game of the week, the first of a three-game series against Long Beach State (21-26, 7-8)that started on Friday. In this game UCR’s pitching continued to struggle and this time the offense was unable to spark a rally, and the team ultimately fell 6-2.

Freshman starting pitcher Cole Percival gave up 10 hits for five earned runs during his six innings on the mound while Long Beach State’s starting pitcher, sophomore Zak Baayoun, only gave up five hits for two earned runs in seven innings. The Highlanders didn’t get the performance necessary from the batters box either, as the team only had six hits in the whole game. Long Beach State, on the other hand, more than doubled the Highlanders hit total, and ended up with 15. UCR’s two runs of the game came off of solo home runs from junior catcher Anthony Lepre and sophomore designated hitter Connor Cannon.

It was more of the same in the second game of the series against Long Beach State as UCR fell again, 8-3. The Dirtbags were able to score four runs before the Highlanders even got on the board. Riverside was finally able to score a run in the eighth inning and two in the ninth, but at that point in the game it was too little too late, especially with Long Beach scoring four runs at the top of the ninth. Cannon was once again right at the middle of the Highlanders offensive attack, finishing with a team high two RBI’s.

Long Beach State completed the sweep against UCR on Sunday. The Dirtbags hit the ground running, scoring three runs in the first inning. Riverside was able to put a run on the board in the fifth inning but Long Beach responded by scoring runs in the sixth and seventh innings. The Highlanders added two runs in the bottom of the eighth and one in the ninth, but again came up short, 5-4.

UCR’s next game will be on Tuesday, May 8 in San Diego against San Diego University.

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