No. 5 Baseball falls to UC Irvine, 9-6, in NCAA Regional championship game
ROUND ROCK, Texas -- No. 5 Texas was doomed by three runs in the bottom of the eighth and dropped a 9-6 decision to UC Irvine in NCAA Division I Baseball Championship regional action at The Dell Diamond. The loss marked the end of the Longhorns season. UC Irvine advances to super regional action where it will face either Arizona or Wichita State.
Texas (46-17) had the game-winning run at the plate in the ninth inning but was unable to capitalize. Trailing 9-5, Travis Tucker singled and Jordan Danks followed with a double to put runners on second and third. After Kyle Russell was retired on strikes, Chance Wheeless drew a walk to load the bases and Bradley Suttle pushed a run across with a walk. Clay Van Hook struck out and Chais Fuller grounded into a fielder's choice to end the game.
When play resumed from Sunday night's washout, UC Irvine was winning 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh. After both teams went scoreless in their first at-bats, the Anteaters scored three runs in the eighth. The inning was highlighted by a two-run double by Tyler Vaughn.
Texas drew first blood in the top of the second inning. Suttle drew a leadoff walk, moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Russell Moldenhauer and scored on a double down the rightfield line by Fuller.
UC Irvine took a 3-1 lead with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Vaughn hit a single to leftfield and moved to second base on a single up the middle by Taylor Holiday. Ben Orloff drew a walk to load the bases. Cody Cipriano doubled down the leftfield line to plate Holiday and Vaughn, staking the Anteaters to the two-run lead.
The Longhorns knotted the game in the top of the fourth inning. Wheeless hit a leadoff single, and with two outs, Fuller doubled to leftfield to put runners at second and third. Josh Prince roped a double to the left centerfield gap, plating Fuller and Wheeless to tie the score at 3-3.
Texas wrangled the lead back with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning. Suttle hit a leadoff single to rightfield. With one out, Fuller followed with a single and a passed ball put runners at second and third. With two outs, Brett Lewis rifled an 0-2 offering down the rightfield line for a two-run double, staking Texas to a 5-3 advantage.
The Anteaters reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. Cipriano hit a leadoff double, but was retired at third on a groundout fielder's choice by Matt Morris. Bryan Petersen hit a double to leftfield, plating Morris to cut the lead to 5-4. UC Irvine tied the game when Jeff Cusick tripled to centerfield to drive in Petersen. The go-ahead run scored when Aaron Lowenstein grounded out to second base allowing Cusick to touch home.
UC Irvine (43-15-1)
UC IRVINE POSTGAME QUOTES
On the change in momentum when Texas scored the two runs in the 6th: Last night when Texas got those two runs, the crowd was behind them and you could feel the momentum of the game change. It's easy for teams in our situation then to think it won't work out for us, but this team didn't do that. They gave the greatest punch-back in program history.
On coming to this regional: You have to play in these kinds of atmospheres to be successful and learn how to deal with the atmosphere to win big.
On playing against Coach Augie Garrido: I tip my hat to Coach Garrido. Whether he knows it or not, I'm modeling this program after his when he was at Cal State Fullerton. I'm hoping he can look across the field and be proud of what he sees developing at UC Irvine. I think it's exactly what he had developed 30 years ago at Cal State Fullerton, when he built that program from scratch and made it the national power it is today.
1B Taylor Holiday
On playing at this regional: Coach (Serrano) did a good job getting us excited to play Texas instead of us worrying about playing them. We were excited to play at the highest level of college baseball against a team with so much history.
2B Cody Cipriano
On not hosting a regional: We play our best baseball when we have a chip on our shoulder, because we don't get as much media attention or respect as other programs. We weren't really disappointed when we found out we were coming to this regional, because in order to be the best you've got to beat the best.
TEXAS POSTGAME QUOTES
I felt good about our team and their attitude from the beginning, and I still feel that way. Championship play is about doing the right thing at the right time, and they (UC Irvine) did the right thing at the right time a lot more often than we did.
There are three major points of view as I see it. The point of view from the fan, the passionate Longhorn fans, and their criteria for success is Omaha and a national championship, so this is disappointing. There's another level at The University where it becomes a balance between their performances academically and athletically, and the national championship satisfies that group as well, but it's less demanding in the balance of it all. I'm not trying to make excuses, but it's just the reality of it all. The third level is the one we care the most about, and that's our own team and staff. That's the level at which winning the national championship is certainly a goal, but we don't have to achieve perfection to get to what we are trying to accomplish with life skills.
On if the team was playing out of desperation: You didn't see the players quit. The mistakes or errors you saw were out of tension and trying too hard. They were getting out of rhythm. There's a lot on the line for these players and they want it very badly. Sometimes when you want something, you overreact to get it instead of staying in a balanced position to make a good decision.
1B Chance Wheeless
RHP Randy Boone