Omaha, NE, United States (4E Sports) – Taylor Sparks had three hits, including the game-tying RBI triple, as UC Irvine scored three runs in the eighth frame en route to a 3-1 win over Texas in the opener of the College World Series Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Anteaters were held scoreless by Nathan Thornhill through seven frames but exploded in the eighth behind Sparks’ RBI triple that scored Adam Alcantara and tied the game at 1-1.
Chris Rabago welcomed John Curtiss, who replaced Thornhill, with a run-scoring single before Jonathan Munoz added another run to make it a two-run game.
Evan Brock (9-6) got the win after holding the Longhorns hitless in the last 2 1/3 innings with three strikeouts. Starter Andrew Morales last six innings, giving up a run on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
Thornhill (8-3) absorbed the loss after yielding two runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts for the Longhorns, who took an early lead with a run-scoring bunt single from Zane Gurwitz in the second inning.
With the win, the Anteaters advanced to the next round against the winner of the Louisville-Vanderbilt showdown. The Longhorns slipped to the losers’ bracket after the defeat.
Before the game, UC Irvine head coach Mike Gillespie was honored as the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Coach of the Year.
Gillespie, who became the 16th active head coach to reach 1,000 career victories, led UCI to its second College World Series appearance.
This marked the second time in Gillespie’s career he has been named the National Coach of the Year after winning the title in 1998. He makes his 20th NCAA postseason trip and sixth College World Series appearance and has guided UCI to the NCAA Tournament five of his seven seasons at the helm of the Anteater program.
With a 40-23 record, Gillespie has led one of his squads to a 40-win season for the 14th time in his 27 seasons as a collegiate head coach.