UC Irvine Sent Home With 1-0 CWS Loss to Longhorns

UC Irvine's surprise postseason run is done.

The Anteaters managed only four hits against Texas' Chad Hollingsworth and Travis Duke and advanced just two runners past first base in a 1-0 loss in a College World Series elimination game Wednesday night.

UC Irvine (41-25), among the last four teams picked for the 64-team NCAA tournament, went 1-2 in an Omaha appearance that came about after it upset No. 1 national seed Oregon State and swept Oklahoma State on the road in the super regionals.

The Anteaters beat Texas 3-1 in their CWS opener on Saturday but were put in a win-or-go-home situation after losing 6-4 to Vanderbilt on Monday.

"Everybody's just heartbroken tonight," Irvine coach Mike Gillespie said. "The time will come when we're objective and realize that we accomplished a lot."

Texas' C.J. Hinojosa broke the CWS' home run drought that had stretched 115 innings since last year. Hinojosa turned on Evan Manarino's 2-0 fastball in the seventh inning, and it landed in the back of the bullpen in left field.

"It's a hard place to hit a ball out," Manarino said. "I didn't think it was a very good pitch. I left it over the plate, and he was a good hitter. He took advantage of it and drove it to left field, and that was it."

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The Longhorns (45-20), who won just the second 1-0 game at the CWS since 1985, advance to a bracket final against Vanderbilt. They need to beat the Commodores (48-19) on Friday and again Saturday to reach next week's best-of-three finals.

Hollingsworth (4-0) followed a complete-game win over Texas A&M in a regional final with another strong performance. He struck out five and walked none before he left to an ovation from fans in burnt orange. Duke got the last two outs in the 2-hour, 35-minute game for his second save of the CWS.

Hollingsworth got a boost from the biggest defensive play of the game. Irvine had a man on first in the third inning when Taylor Sparks drove a ball deep into the gap. Center fielder Mark Payton gave chase and made a running over-the-head catch that likely saved a run.

"Payton was a difference-maker in this game," Gillespie said. "I mean, that's a catch we'll see tonight later on, tomorrow morning, all day long. We'll see more of that catch than we even want to. We've seen enough of it already, actually, but it was spectacular."

A base-running error cost the Longhorns a scoring chance in the sixth when Ben Johnson grounded into the left-field corner. Johnson's right foot missed the bag as he rounded first on his way to third. UC Irvine appealed, and Johnson grudgingly headed back to the dugout. Payton then hit a first-pitch single that would have scored Johnson.

The next inning, Hinojosa sent his home run into a 24-mph cross wind. It was only the 23rd home run since the CWS moved to cavernous TD Ameritrade Park in 2011.

"I was just trying to see a good pitch," Hinojosa said. "I put a good swing on it, and it flew out. I think the wind might have changed. That was kind of lucky on our side."

Other than Hinojosa's home run, the Longhorns did little against Manarino (4-4) in his first postseason start. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out seven in 6 1-3 innings.

"It takes a special team to get this far," Irvine's Connor Spencer said. "During the season, you really wouldn't have known that we were that special team. But as soon as our name was called on that announcement show, things kind of changed and guys' hearts started to come out." 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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