Anteaters Punch Their Ticket

I caught the ninth inning of the UC Irvine-Wichita State super-regional on the television here in Boshamer Stadium’s press box, and it looked wild. One day after Scott Gorgen threw a complete-game shutout against Wichita State, UCI righthander Wes Etheridge carried a shutout into the ninth inning. The Anteaters (who were the home team today) led 2-0 heading into the top of the ninth, but Derek Schermerhorn led off with a single, and Damon Sublett followed with a ground ball to shortstop. Ben Orloff’s throw went to the right-field side of the first-base bag, forcing Taylor Holiday to stretch for it, but the first-base umpire called Sublett out. Shockers coach Gene Stephenson argued the call and appealed to the home plate umpire, who overruled the call, saying Holiday’s foot came off the bag.

Wichita State made the most of its opportunity four batters later, when left fielder Tyler Hill delivered a two-out, two-run single to right field to tie the game against reliever Dylan Axelrod. That snapped UCI’s 17 2/3 inning scoreless streak in the super-regionals, but the Anteaters did not wilt. That just wouldn’t have been in their character.

After Axelrod induced a pop-up to end the top of the ninth, Matt Morris reached on a one-out single in the bottom of the inning. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, and outfielder Bryan Petersen smacked a walk-off RBI double to right field on a three-and-two pitch. It was Petersen’s first hit of the super-regionals, but it came at a pretty good time.

So UC Irvine is headed to Omaha in just its seventh season since the program was reinstated. Gorgen and Etheridge are pitching as well as any two pitchers in college baseball, and the Anteaters are awfully confident behind them. This team plays so very loose, which is a testament to the incredible coaching job Dave Serrano and his staff have done. The ‘Eaters will be a very tough out in Omaha.