UC Irvine’s run for the national title comes to end after falling to Texas, 1-0, in an elimination game in the 2014 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., in front of 24,337 fans, second-highest attendance this year.
Texas improves to 45-20 and will face Vanderbilt on Friday, while UC Irvine drops to 42-25.
After six scoreless innings, Texas shortstop C.J. Hinojosa blasted the first home run of the College World Series to left field, giving the Longhorns a 1-0 lead in the top of the seventh.
It turns out that was all the Longhorns needs as pitcher Chad Hollingsworth was lights out. In 8.1 innings pitched, the righty struck out five and gave up just four hits and didn’t issue a walk. Hollingsworth has now pitched 17.1 innings in postseason play without giving up a earned run.
“You know, he was mixing pitches really, really well,” stated Connor Spencer. “He was definitely working both sides of the plate tonight, and the curveball was setting up his fastball really, really nicely. So when he was throwing that curveball and backing it up with the fastball, the fastball was getting in on us. You know, it just kind of threw us off balance, and we really couldn’t get on to that fastball the way we would have liked to.”
Longhorn Travis Duke recorded the game’s final two outs to earn the save.
Anteater Evan Manarino also pitched a gem, allowing just five hits and one earned run while striking out seven in 6.1 innings pitched. Evan Brock replaced the southpaw and threw the final 2.2 innings and allowed just one hit.
The ‘Eaters tried to mount a rally in the bottom of the eighth inning as Adam Alcantara, leading off, was hit by a pitch. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Justin Castro and Ryan Cooper entered the game to pinch-run for Alcantara.
Cooper was stranded at second as Taylor Sparks fouled out and Chris Rabago grounded out to short.
Connor Spencer led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to left, but Jerry McClanahan flew out to center, Jonathan Munoz struck out looking and Grant Palmer flew out to right.
“This is a tough loss, of course, as you would well imagine,” commented Head Coach Mike Gillespie. “We’re really proud of the account we gave of ourselves here. I think Evan pitched outstanding, and Connor Spencer has been a phenomenal player for us for three years, including tonight.”
Spencer had two of the four hits by the Anteaters.
The NCBWA Coach of the Year guided UC Irvine to its eighth postseason appearance in 11 years and second College World Series. The Anteaters won the Corvallis Regional and Stillwater Super Regional to advance to Omaha.
UC Irvine is now 3-4 all-time in the College World Series and 3-1 against Texas.