June 6, 2010

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CBI Live
UC Irvine eliminates national-champion LSU

By Ryan Eshoff

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


Ryan Eshoff is a rising junior at UCLA, a native of San Jose, and has seen more of California than is recommended. He has been on the sports staff of the Daily Bruin newspaper his entire UCLA career, spending the last year as an assistant sports editor and preparing to become a senior writer. He has covered the entire breadth of Bruin sports and considers himself, for better or worse, the world's foremost expert on UCLA water polo. In his less than copious amounts of free time, Ryan fights the East Coast bias and roots rabidly for the San Jose Sharks, the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Dodgers while wishing there was an NBA franchise in the Bay Area.


LOS ANGELES - It wasn't the quickest double play ever turned, but you can bet UC Irvine will take it.

The Anteaters went 4-6-3 in the top of the ninth inning to help preserve a 4-3 win and eliminate LSU on Sunday in the Los Angeles Regional.

LSU's Alex Edward singled to start the ninth before designated hitter Matt Gaudet hit a grounder up the middle. Irvine second baseman Casey Stevenson fielded and flipped to shortstop D.J. Crumlich, who did a complete 360 before throwing a ball that first baseman Jeff Cusick dug out of the dirt.

Two outs, rally over. LSU's Tyler Hanover popped out to end the game and the Tigers' season.

"We thought up until the very end that we were going to find a way to win that game," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "We had our opportunities, we just couldn't quite get over the hump."

For LSU, Sunday afternoon was all about a failure to repeat. In the big picture, the loss will mean the Tigers miss out on a chance to defend their national championship. In the context of the weekend, they were unable to summon the late-inning magic that propelled them to a win over the Anteaters on Friday.

"I thought we battled hard, we gave it all we had, but it just wasn't enough today," LSU centerfielder Leon Landry said. "I really thought we were going to pull that one out. It's just a heartbreaker, but you tip your hat to those guys."

Those guys from UC Irvine received a stellar start from right-hander Evan Brock, who handcuffed the Tigers for the first five innings and allowed the Anteaters to build a 3-0 lead. Brock finished with seven strikeouts in six innings and was charged with three earned runs.

Irvine leftfielder Drew Hillman had a big night at the plate, going 3 for 3 with a home run and a pair of runs.

First baseman Blake Dean homered for an LSU team that brought a host of fans despite playing on the West Coast.

"This team was unbelievable," Dean said in reflecting on his last days as a Tiger. "Gave my teammates the best I had, we just fell short this year."

UC Irvine, meanwhile, had a quick turnaround before a Sunday evening showdown with top-seeded UCLA. The Bruins can eliminate the Anteaters with a victory, but should the Anteaters win, an elimination game for both teams would take place Monday night.

UCLA and UC Irvine met twice during the regular season, with each team winning at home.