Air Force Downs Illinois-Chicago, 10-3
MESA, Ariz. - The Air Force baseball team erupted for a season-high 10 runs and 14 hits as it rolled to a 10-3 win over Illinois-Chicago Friday morning at the HoHoKam Collegiate Classic at HoHoKam Park, the Spring Training home of the Chicago Cubs. The Falcons improve to 5-1 on the season dropping UIC to 0-1.
Sophomore Chay Derbigny and senior Dustin Smith both collected three hits and combined for five runs and three extra-base hits. Geno Salazar, Karl Bolt and Matt Ghigna also collected two hits apiece.
Freshman Jake Petro (1-0) picked up his first-win despite allowing two runs in two innings of relief. Falcon starter Clayton Couch, who was on a pitch count limit, went three scoreless innings, allowing two hits while fanning two. Closer Paul Vignola picked up his third save of the season, pitching 3.1 innings of scoreless relief, fanning five in the process.
Leading 3-2 after the third inning, the Falcons broke the game open with four runs in the fifh and three more in the sixth.
The Falcons got on the scoreboard first, as back-to-back two out doubles by Chay Derbigny and Dustin Smith put the Falcons ahead 1-0 in the third inning. The lead was short-lived at UCI rallied with a pair of runs in the fourth inning off Falcon reliever Jake Petro to take a 2-1 lead.
Air Force came right back un the bottom-half of the inning, as Karl Bolt and Matt Ghigna broke out of season-starting slumps to rally the Falcons to a pair of runs and retake the lead 3-2. Bolt broke out of an 0-for-17 start to the season with a single up the middle to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Austin Ferreria. After Price Paramore grounded out, Ghigna turned on the first pitch he saw and laced a single to right, scoring Bolt, and giving him his first hit in 13 at bats. Ghigna then stole second and came around to score on Billy Adams' double to deep left-center.
In the fifth, the Falcons went to the small ball, taking advantage of four infield hits, three by way of bunts, and two UCI errors to tack on four runs and extend their lead to 7-2. Derbigny, Smith and Ferreria had bunt singles and Ghigna beat out a grounder to second. Geno Salazar's hit to short right-center was the lone Falcon hit out of the infield.
The Falcons tacked on three more runs in the sixth, after UIC scored on run in the top of the inning, to go ahead 10-3. The Flames stranded 15 baserunners in the game, failing to score with the bases loaded in the third and ninth innings. Couch hit three batters in the third, but was able to escape. Vignola gave up three-straight singles to start the ninth, but struck out the side to end the game.
Air Force will play two games tomorrow, (Feb. 18), taking on Creighton at 10:30 a.m. and UIC immediately after.
Notes: Andrew Vasquez played in his first game of the season for the Falcons...Bob Carpenter played in his first-career game for the Falcons...the Falcons stole six bases in the game, giving them 20 through six games.