There will be no repeat magical championship run from a school in the University of California system in Omaha, NE this year.
The Texas Longhorns’ C.J. Hinojosa saw to that, as his solo home run in the seventh inning – the first time anyone has gone deep in Omaha due to the wide open spaces of TD Ameritrade Park, the wind blowing in often, and the composition of the bats and balls – was more than enough to knock out UC Irvine from the College World Series, Texas redeeming themselves from their 3-1 opening loss to Mike Gillespie’s Anteaters by beating them 1-0 on Wednesday night.
The Longhorns’ Chad Hollingsworth was the other Anteater killer as he threw 8 1/3 innings of shutdown ball, striking out five, not walking anybody, and letting only two UC Irvine hitters get past first base. Travis Duke, with a runner on, got a strikeout and a flyout to finish the Anteaters off in the ninth.
This came after Irvine lost to Vanderbilt, 6-4, a few days before.
“Everybody’s just heartbroken tonight,” Gillespie commented afterwards. “The time will come when we’re objective and realize that we accomplished a lot.”
That was an understatement as UC Irvine, after losing eight of its last nine regular season games and being one of the last teams picked for the 64-team NCAA tournament, beat overall top seed Oregon State on their home field in the regionals and Oklahoma State on their home field in the Super Regionals to get to Omaha.
Finishing at 41-25, I’m sure some people were thinking that these Anteaters would do what their fellow UC school in Westwood did last season, go on a fiery white hot streak and win their first NCAA title.
While that was ultimately not to be, Gillespie is right when he said that his Big West Conference team did accomplish much, standing toe-to-toe-with the big boy SEC and Big 12 schools and giving them a good battle.
The cliches of “Holding your head up high” and “Having nothing to be ashamed of” definitely apply here.
At least they’ll always have that 3-1 first game win over those Longhorns.