Before this weekend, I had only seen an anteater once, in a zoo. I saw what it looked like, I saw how it moved, but I wasn't close enough to pick up its smell. Now I know.
Anteaters smell like Omaha.
This bunch has ridiculous speed, flashy gloves, disciplined bats, two stud pitchers, and most importantly, supreme confidence in themselves and determination.
Baseball programs always advance in steps each season. (Oregon State's title came the year after an 0-and-2 Omaha visit.) Before this weekend, Irvine had never won a postseason D-I game, so it seems really stupid to expect much more than this from them.
Yet there I was after the press conference, congratulating Taylor Holiday and telling him, "See you in Omaha."
Two Texas errors helped Irvine plated three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. At the end of eight, it's 9-5 'Eaters.
With one out, 1B Chance Wheeless booted Bryan Peterson's grounder. UCI coach Dave Serrano pulled a surprise pinch hitter. Dillon Bell, who was 1-for-12 on the season, strode the plate, took a couple of pitches and an ugly swing, then lined a single into right. Kyle Russell charged the ball and despite having no chance to get the runner at third, uncorked a high throw that sailed into the Irvine dugout on the fly. Peterson headed home to make it 7-5, and Bell was awarded third base. Ollie Linton was hit by a pitch and stole second, and with two outs, 9-hole hitter Tyler Vaughn lined a two-run single to center to score two more.
Round Rock: We're suspended until tomorrow, Augie speaks
We'll resume tomorrow at 1 pm with Irvine coming to bat in the bottom of the 8th leading Texas 6-5.
If Texas rallies for a win, we'll play a winner-take-all game one hour following the game's conclusion.
"Some things are beyond our control, and the weather is obviously one of them. I hope our crowd will come back and support this team, because they have given every ounce of energy trying to win this thing." -- Augie Garrido
Texas has got another two-run double in the sixth from an unlikely source and has taken a 5-3 lead over Irvine into the middle of the sixth.
Whoops, update. 5-4 Texas. Bryan Peterson just delivered an RBI double for Irvine. Tying run on second with one out.
Brad Suttle led off the sixth with a single and an out later, Chaise Fuller followed with a single, his third hit of the night. After a pitching change and the second out, both runners moved up on an uncharacteristic passed ball by Aaron Lowenstein, who has been a brick wall all weekend. Texas' seldom-used backup catcher Brett Lewis, playing because of injury to starter Preston Clark, got into an 0-2 hole, but then poked the next pitch opposite-field into the right field corner for a double.
That small storm cell that was very near the park fizzled out, but the big line of storms is coming our way. I'll be very surprised if we finish this tonight.
Round Rock: Rain, rain, come this way, let us play another day
At least that's what the ridiculously-depleted Texas pitching staff is saying. It's starting to drizzle a bit, and a smaller storm will hit in a few minutes. The umpires have already talked with NCAA officials and the grounds crew, so we'll most likely be having a short storm delay within 20 minutes.
In the top of the fourth, Texas got a huge two-run, two-out two-strike pinch-hit double to tie it. After four innings, it's 3-3 between Texas and Irvine.
Chance Wheeless singled to lead off the fourth, and two outs later Chais Fuller delivered his second double of the day. Kyle Lusson, a seldom-used freshman who's playing because of Nick People's injury was due up next, but Texas sent up Josh Prince in his place. Prince, who didn't play at all in the Big 12 tournament, smacked a 2-2 pitch into the left-center gap that even Ollie Linton couldn't run down.
Reliever Keith Shinaberry got the Anteaters in order in the bottom of the fourth.
The crowd is back in the game in a big way. Let's see if the Texas bullpen can pull off their share of a miracle.
Round Rock: Irvine finally trails, storms on the way
Texas gets potentially two things going their way.
First, they got a run in the second to take a 1-0 lead. It's the first time Irvine has trailed this weekend.
Second, storms are on the way. There's some nasty lightning visible to the north that's not going to get us, but there is a big cell to the west that's growing bigger and coming right at us. If Texas starter Austin Wood can keep the Longhorns in the game until those storms get there, we could be done for the night and the Texas bullpen studs could be ready when we resume tomorrow. (BTW, we're just below GRK on that radar.)
Texas scored their run in the top of the second on a walk and a Chais Fuller RBI double.
Texas is alive, but Dr. Tanner is giving them nine innings to live.
The Longhorns' 7-4 win over Wake Forest earlier today provided them with little reason to be optimistic. They played 12 innings in the hot sun. They burned through the only two relievers they trust, with Joseph Krebs throwing 77 pitches (making his three-day total an arm-killing 141) and Randy Boone throwing 33 pitches over 2.1 innings. Heck, they even threw their planned starter for tonight, Austin Wood, in the final inning, and he needed 30 pitches to get through that. Plus, for the second time this week they lost a position starter to injury, as center fielder Nick Peoples broke his clavicle making a diving catch.
What may be worst of all is that their opponent is UC Irvine, a team that's loaded with speed, great gloves, a rested bullpen, and supreme confidence. And even if the Horns beat them tonight, they'd have to beat them again tomorrow.
Texas just took a 7-4 lead in the top of the 12th on a pair of run-scoring doubles.
Jordan Danks led off with a single and moved to second on a sac bunt. Chance Wheeless followed by bouncing an infield single off the pitcher's glove. Up came Brad Suttle, who lined a 1-2 pitch into the right-center gap to score both runners.
Russell Moldenhauer just followed with another double in almost the same spot to add another run.
Texas is still batting with one out.
I was rooting for someone/anyone to score this inning because my scorebook only goes to 12.
Each team had chances in the 10th, but Texas and Wake Forest are still tied 4-4.
Texas had a runner at 2nd with only one out, but then could only muster a couple of weak groundouts.
Wake's Allan Dykstra blasted a high fly to center, but it didn't quite reach the warning track. Then with two outs and a man on first, Tyler Smith ripped one down the right field line that bounced inches foul.
Randy Boone and Josh Ellis are still the pitchers, and I have the feeling they're going to decide it.
Round Rock: Free Baseball! Wake gets 9th-inning miracle
Leading 4-1 heading to the bottom of the ninth, Texas looked in control. But Wake rallied for three runs, the final two on pinch-hitter Brett Linnenkohl's two-out, two-strike, two-run homer.
Tyler Smith led off the inning with a single and, two outs later, scored on Andy Goff's single.
That run brought closer Randy Boone in from the Texas pen, and Linnenkohl from the Wake dugout.
Boone got ahead 1-2, then threw a pitch that just about everyone but the home plate umpire and Linnenkohl thought was strike three. (Texas fans are noted for complaining about every pitch, but this one did look extremely similar to a lot of pitches that have been called strikes today.) Linnenkohl then blasted Boone's next pitch into the RF bullpen to tie it.
Round Rock: Ollie Linton wouldn't have caught this one
After three and a half innings, Texas leads Wake Forest 1-0.
Russell Moldenhauer just hit one out of the park. Literally.
Moldenhauer blasted a 3-2 pitch over the wall, over the bullpen, and over the berm in right-center.
The ball landed on the walkway behind the berm, bounced through an open gate, and into the parking lot with lots of kids in chase.
I'm estimating it was a 430-foot blast, 900 feet if you count the roll.
Nick Peoples is back from the hospital. Between innings, he walked in from an outfield gate with his upper body heavily wrapped and got a standing ovation as he walked around the infield track to the Texas dugout.
After three innings, Texas and Wake Forest are scoreless. Each team has had a runner to third with one out, but came up empty. Wake's Willy Fox led off the bottom of the second with a double and moved to third on a flyout, but a comebacker and a strikeout stranded him. Jordan Danks ripped a one-out triple in the top of the third, but after a walk, Chance Wheeless scorched a one-hopper right back at Wake pitcher Brad Kledzik, who turned it into a 1-6-3 double play.
Official word from the Texas SID: CF Nick Peoples has a fractured left clavicle.
That's an injury that will take a while to heal, so he's done for the year.
Collarbone trivia: The collarbone is broken more often than any other bone in the body. About 64 out of every 100,000 people in the United States break their collarbones every year.
Texas isn't losing, but they have lost another player.
After an inning, the Longhorns and Wake Forest are scoreless.
CF Nick Peoples made an incredible diving catch of Dustin Hood's blast into the left-center alley, but didn't get up. The trainer rushed out, and Peoples immediately walked off the field holding his left arm across the front of his body.
Between innings, they carted him out of the stadium. He had wrap going diagonally across his right shoulder, down to where it held his left forearm across his stomach.
I'm not a doctor, but that looks like a collarbone injury.
Three years in a row now, Texas has lost the Saturday night game of their own regional. Last year, they lost that game to a California team (Stanford), then came out Sunday afternoon and laid an egg against an ACC team (NC State).
Last night, the Longhorns lost to a Cali team (Irvine), and now they'll try to stave off elimination against another ACC team (Wake Forest).
But at last night's post-game press conference, Augie Garrido was adamant that the similarities ended there.
Texas and Wake Forest will play an elimination game at noon.
The winner of that game will get Irvine at 6 p.m.
If Irvine loses, Monday will see a winner-take-all game.
I don't think we'll see a Monday. If I could find an online sports book that would take bets on who will get to Omaha, I'd take out a home equity loan and put the proceeds on Irvine. They're fantastic.
Scott Gorgen and his UC Irvine teammates quieted a huge orange-clad crowd with a 3-1 win over Texas.
The win puts the Anteaters into the regional championship round, needing only one win in two games to advance to the supers.
Irvine will be tough to beat twice. They have shown great pitching, great speed, and great defense. They're just an extremely solid team that doesn't make mistakes. They'll be hard to keep out of Omaha.
UC Irvine just added to their lead and knocked out Adrian Alaniz. At the stretch, the Anteaters lead Texas, 3-1.
Leading 2-1, Irvine's Aaron Lowenstein led off the 7th with a single, moved to second on a sac bunt, and scored when Taylor Holiday blasted a double to the wall in right. The Anteaters eventually loaded the bases with two outs on a walk and HBP, and Alaniz was done after 103 (?) pitches.
Amazingly, Joe Krebs, who pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless relief last night, trotted out of the bullpen and got a quick final out.
Alaniz's line: 6.2 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned, 2 walks, and 7 Ks.
Holiday is an offensive terror out of the leadoff spot. He has been on base three times tonight and has scored twice. In addition to his recent double, he also tripled to lead off the game.
Same story here... After six innings, Irvine still leads Texas 2-1. Hits are 5-4 in favor of Texas.
They've wedged an extra 26 people in the park tonight -- attendance = 9,256, but they've been fairly quiet because Irvine's Scott Gorgen has really shut down the Texas offense. After allowing Brad Suttle's homer in the third, Gorgen retired eight batters in a row. Plus, he has gotten help from CF Ollie Linton, who ran down a deep blast in right-center with two on in the first, and ran down a deep blast in left-center with a runner on in the sixth.
At 90 pitches through six innings, Texas starter Adrian Alaniz has worked much harder for outs. Texas has made three errors, but Alaniz has struck out seven to minimize the damage.
Round Rock: Here's hoping today's as great as yesterday!
First, how freakin' great was yesterday across the nation? It was honestly the best opening round I can remember since the tournament expanded to 64, mainly because of the competitiveness of the 1-4 games. Consider...
Noon -- Wake Forest-Brown; Wake was dominated today but you have to figure that they'll play better. Brown burned through their one playoff-caliber pitcher tonight, so I'd expect Wake to send the Bears home. You can bet, though, that any spectators wearing burnt orange will be rooting for the Ivy Leaguers, because they really won some hearts tonight.
6 p.m. -- Irvine-Texas; Irvine played about as flawlessly as I've ever seen a team play in their 13-0 win over Wake. Seriously, that team could have beaten any team in the country today. "Awesome" is an overused word, but the Anteaters were absolutely awesome today. Plus, they have ace Scott Gorgen ready for tomorrow. Texas came out flat tonight and really got tested by Brown. You can argue that the tight game helped the Longhorns, but burning through lefty reliever Joseph Krebs for 3.1 innings didn't help them. The key to tomorrow's game may be Texas catcher Preston Clark's injury. Backup Brett Lewis played well tonight behind the dish, but with 130 stolen bases this season, Irvine's a whole 'nother story.
Brown ace Jeff Dietz faced one hitter in the 8th and was basically lobbing the ball up there compared to the stuff he was throwing earlier. Travis Tucker lined the final one of those lobs for a single.
On his walk to the dugout, Dietz got a standing ovation from the 9000+ in attendance.
Rob Hallberg is on to replace him and faces the top of the order.
Anyone who watched game one of the Round Rock Regional has to be in awe of the performance UC Irvine put on in their 13-0 hammering of Wake Forest. Even head coach Dave Serrano admitted they played perfect baseball. (See quotes below.) The Anteaters did everything right and seemed to catch every break. Wake allowed four runs in the first and basically had no chance today.
Texas and Brown will battle in game two at 7 p.m.
There should be over 7000 in attendance, which is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of Brown's total home attendance on the season.
Irvine has announced their presence with authority.
Wes Etheridge worked himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first, then his teammates plated four runs in the bottom of the inning. After an inning and a half, the Anteaters lead Wake Forest 4-0.
Update... Irvine has already added two more in the bottom of the second on a Tyler Vaughn double and a two seeing-eye singles. 6-0 'Eaters.
2-seed Irvine (40-15-1) has pulled the day's first surprise in Round Rock. Scott Gorgen, their 1st-team All-Big West pitcher, had opened every series of the regular season for the Anteaters, but he won't be kicking off this weekend's action.
Instead Dave Serrano has handed the ball to Wes Etheridge (11-4, 2.88 ERA in 109.1 innings). Etheridge and Gorgen could be called co-aces of the staff, but Etheridge has more of a rubber arm, as he has frequently started on Saturdays and relieved in midweek games. This decision gives a strong hint that we'll see Etheridge again this weekend.