The Texas Longhorns gave up five hits and three runs in the eighth inning, blowing a 1-0 lead, as they fell to the UC Irvine Anteaters, 3-1, in the opening game of the College World Series.
Senior pitcher Nathan Thornhill pitched a solid seven and a third innings, but was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs.
The Anteaters threatened in the first inning when third baseman Andrew Sparks singled and advanced to second on an error and reached third with one out. Thornhill pitched out of that jam to strand the runner at third as he would do in three of UC Irvine’s first four innings.
The Longhorns had a chance to get an early lead off of Andrew Morales, after junior second baseman Brooks Marlow and sophomore outfielder Ben Johnson both walked. Senior centerfielder Mark Payton bunted them over but freshman catcher Tres Barrera and sophomore shortstop C.J Hinojosa both were retired to strand two in scoring position.
Texas struck first in the bottom of the second when junior rightfielder Collin Shaw doubled and senior designated hitter Madison Carter bunted him over to third. Freshman first baseman Kacy Clemens managed to reach base, leading to freshman third baseman Zane Gurwitz who drove in Shaw on an infield bunt single.
Texas had the bases loaded with one out but couldn’t produce a second run, a common theme as the team stranded 12 on base, and only hit 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position in the game.
UC Irvine also wasted plenty of opportunities, leaving six on base, but managed to get three across the plate in the decisive eighth inning. Texas allowed three extra base hits in the contest after only surrendering two such hits in its first six NCAA Tournament games.
Texas will face the loser of tonight’s game between Vanderbilt and Louisville at 2 p.m. Monday. The Longhorns now sit one loss away from elimination, and will need to win four straight to reach the Championship.
Mark Payton’s record on-base streak of 101 games ended in the loss, as he went 0-for-4 and was out on a sacrifice bunt.