OMAHA, Neb. – UC Irvine trailed 1-0 in the eighth inning and got the lift its needed with a three-run rally in the inning for a 3-1 win over Texas in Game 1 of the 2014 College World Series on Saturday at T.D. Ameritrade Park. Taylor Sparks hit an RBI triple and scored in the three-run rally that took the late lead for good for UC Irvine.
Most fans came into the game anticipating a pitching duel between a pair of aces as Texas sent Nathan Thornhill and his 1.57 ERA to the bump against Anteater ace Andrew Morales with his 1.53 ERA. Both pitchers would work around several jams showing their worth as the top pitchers on their respective staffs.
Thornhill had Anteaters in scoring position in each of the first four innings he pitched but managed to strand all four baserunners to keep UC Irvine from scoring before he settled in and retired the next eight Anteaters he faced taking a scoreless outing into the eighth with four strike outs.
Morales was almost equally as fortunate on a day when he didn’t seem to have confidence in his best stuff, he displayed tremendous pitching ability, only allowing a run in the second as he stranded 10 Longhorns while striking out five in six innings of work.
In the second inning, Texas broke through for its’ only run of the game as Zane Gurwitz sacrificed home Collin Shaw in the second inning to take the early 1-0 lead.
The Longhorns tried to mount a final rally against Anteaters’ reliever Evan Manarino getting two on with two-out in the bottom of the seventh but UC Irvine handed the ball to Evan Brock who got Madison Carter to ground out and end the threat.
The Anteaters finally got the offense on track against Thornhill as Taylor Sparks drove a triple deep to the gap in left field that scored Adam Alacantra to tie the game. Texas turned to closer John Curtiss who surrendered an RBI single to Chris Robago that scored Sparks and took the lead for UC Irvine.
Curtiss then allowed a two-out single by Jonathan Munoz with runners on first and second that scored Robago, but Connor Spencer was thrown out at third as C.J. Hinojosa cut-off the throw from Ben Johnson and gunned the ball to Gurwitz to get the final out of the inning with the Longhorns trailing 3-1.
However, the Texas’ offense had no answers for Brock who retired seven straight hitters, including striking out all three Longhorns he faced in the ninth to clinch the win for the Anteaters.
UC Irvine moves on to the winner’s bracket and will play Monday night at 7:00 PM central against the winner of the Vanderbilt-Louisville later today in Game 2. Texas will face the loser of Game 2 on Monday at 2:00 PM central.