June 14, 2014
UC Irvine Rallies
Past Texas in CWS Opener
By Phil Stanton
OMAHA, Neb. - After missing opportunities
early in the game, UC Irvine capitalized late.
Taylor Sparks had an RBI triple to tie the game
and scored the go-ahead run in a three-run top of the eighth as
the Anteaters rallied past Texas 3-1 Saturday in Game 1 of the
2014 College World Series in front of 23,796 fans at TD
UCI (41-23) will play on Monday, June 16 at 7
p.m., against the winner of the Louisville-Vanderbilt contest.
The Longhorns (43-20) will face the loser in an elimination game
on Monday at 2 p.m.
"We had some chances, we didn't capitalize," UCI
head coach Mike Gillespie said, "but by keeping the game close,
why, with there being no clock in this game, why, it was
possible for us to do what we did in the eighth."
The Anteaters trailed 1-0 after seven innings and
Texas starter Nathan Thornhill had retired eight straight
hitters. Adam Alcantara laced a leadoff single to left to start
the eighth and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Justin
Castro. Sparks (3 for 4) ripped a triple to the wall in
left-center to plate Alcantara from second and knot the score at
"I felt like I was able to pick up on it pretty
early," Sparks said. "I just put a good swing on it. I figured
no reason in the eighth inning to really wait and get deep in
the count. I figured just go after whatever pitch I can hit, and
luckily I was able to put a good swing on that one."
Thornhill (8-3, 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, BB, 4 K)
departed and John Curtiss took over on the mound for the
Longhorns. Would it be time for a squeeze bunt? No. Chris Rabago
lined the first pitch up the middle through a drawn-in infield
to bring home Sparks and give UCI a 2-1 advantage.
"I'm surprised they didn't try to squeeze there,"
Texas head coach Augie Garrido said, "because that would have
been even more momentum that they took the risk to do what they
-- they just executed so well in that inning consistently, but I
was surprised they didn't squeeze."
Rabago scored on a single by Jonathan Munoz as
the Anteaters built a 3-1 lead.
Evan Brock (9-6) shut the door on the Longhorns
over the final two frames. The No. 3 starter for UCI recorded
the final out in the seventh and retired all seven hitters he
faced, including striking out the side in the bottom of the
ninth to secure the win.
After leaving two on in the first, Texas got on
the board in the second. Collin Shaw had a leadoff double, was
sacrificed to third and scored on a base hit by Zane Gurwitz to
make it a 1-0 contest. The Longhorns had numerous chances over
the first seven innings, but stranded a dozen.
"One of the first keys was that Andrew Morales
made big pitches to keep that game from getting away from us,"
Gillespie said. "We all saw how it started, and we know that he
threw a ton of pitches. Uncharacteristic of him. But it seemed
like they had guys on base every inning they may have or almost
every inning, and they were in a position to really break it
out, and I think that he did what we've seen him do
consistently, which is compete and really never give in."
Morales worked six innings with six hits, one
run, three walks and three strikeouts. He threw 108 pitches.
UCI also had its chances early. The Anteaters
were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position over the first