#13 Washington 5, UC-Irvine 3

Brent Lillibridge led off the game with a home run and made a diving catch to end the game as the 13th ranked Huskies held on to defeat the UC-Irvine Anteaters 5-3 in the opener of an important non-conference series at Husky Ballpark on Friday night.

With the victory in a series that will help determine seeds for the upcoming NCAA tournament, the Huskies improved to 35-18-1 while the Anteaters dropped to 34-19-1.

Trailing 5-1 entering their last at-bat in the ninth, the visitors scored two runs against Husky reliever Trent Baysinger. Jordan Szabo led off with a ground single into left field, and with one out, Mark Wagner hit a single identical to Szabo's to put runners at first and second. Husky head coach Ken Knutson brought in closer Will Fenton for Baysinger, and after striking out pinch hitter Andy Amara, Tim Stewart doubled down the left field line on a 1-2 pitch to score Szabo and Wagner.

Pinch hitter Gregg Wallis then hit a 1-1 flare into shallow left center field, and Lillibridge made a nice diving catch to save a run and the game.

Lillibridge got the Huskies immediately on the board in the bottom of the first inning as he drove the very first pitch from starter Brett Smith over the wall in left center field for his 11th home run of the season and a 1-0 lead. The Huskies made it 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth as Greg Isaacson walked and Zach Clem doubled off the bullpen screen in left field.

Kyle Larsen hit a shallow pop up into left center field that center fielder Gary Dudrey should have caught but he misjudged the ball and it fell for a single, scoring Isaacson. Aaron Hathaway the lined a single into right center field to score Clem.

The Anteaters got a run back in the top of the sixth as Dudrey walked, took second on a ground out, advanced to third on a wild pitch by Husky starter Kyle Parker, and scored on a double down the right field line by Matt Anderson.

The Huskies scored two more runs in the bottom of the seventh due to getting extra outs. Clem struck out against Smith, but when the ball bounced away from catcher Wagner on strike three for a wild pitch, Clem reached first. Larsen then hit a one hopper right back to Smith for what should have been one out, but shortstop Chad Lundahl dropped the throw, giving the Huskies runners at first and second.

Hathaway followed with a sinking line drive into left field which got past a diving Szabo for a double, allowing both Clem and Larsen to score. The Huskies still had no one out with runners at second and third when Matt Tucker doubled off the glove of third baseman Anderson, but reliever Steve Schroer got out of the jam, getting John Otness to ground out to Lundahl, striking out Nick Batkoski swinging, and retiring Taylor Johnson on a fly ball to right field.

Hathaway and Lillibridge both had three hits to lead the Huskies' 10 hit attack. Hathaway also drove in three runs, while Lillibridge led off a game with a home run for the seventh time this season.

On the mound, Parker got the win to improve to 3-3, allowing one run on five hits and two walks, with six strikeouts. Fenton got the last two outs of the game for his eighth save. Smith suffered the loss to drop to 8-4, allowing five runs, four earned, on nine hits and three walks, with eight strikeouts, in six plus innings.

The two teams return to Husky Ballpark for the middle game of the series beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The Huskies will send ace right hander Tim Lincecum (9-2, 3.38) to the mound while the Anteaters will counter with southpaw Glenn Swanson (6-3, 5.43).

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