Let one slip away

OMAHA, Neb. – For seven innings, the University of Texas had everything going its way in the College World Series opener against UC Irvine.

The Longhorns had only scratched across one run but starter Nathan Thornhill looked dominant on the mound, mowing down the Anteaters.

Thornhill had allowed only three runs over 37 innings in six starts and had given up just four hits and retired eight in a row heading into the eighth inning with his team up 1-0.

"He really sailed through the seventh inning and looked dominate at that point," Texas coach Augie Garrido said. "And he's finished a 1-0 game for us before."

But it wasn't happening this time before 23,796 fans at TD Ameritrade Park with the wind blowing in upwards of 35 and 40 miles an hour.

Thornhill hit the wall in the eighth. Adam Alcantara led off with a single past a diving third baseman Zane Gurwitz. Juan Castro then bunted him to third.

UC Irvine lead off hitter Taylor Sparks then roped a triple into the gap in left-center field, scoring Alcantara to tie the game at one. John Curtiss came in to relieve Thornhill but gave up three hits, including one to Chris Rabago to score Sparks.

Rabago then scored on a single by Jonathan Munoz."I thought Nate had done a really good job and that's why he went back out there," Garrido said.

Added Thornhill: "I wasn't really (tired), just normal tiredness for the game but we've been conditioned to do that. I wouldn't say I was tired. The first hitter turned on a fastball inside, then I hit my spot. The next guy was probably their best hitter and he hit a cutter that was down, and he just sat on it. A great hit."

Sparks' triple was even more impressive because of the wind, which at the time was whipping around 35 MPH. It was the longest ball hit in the game and just did reach the warning track and bounced to the wall.

"I knew anything lifted, it really wasn't going anywhere," Sparks said. "I just tried to stay flat with that and was able to get it into the gap."

Reliever Evan Brock (9-6), who came into the game in the seventh inning, retired the Longhorns in order in the final two innings to send them into the losers' bracket of the College World Series.

Brock struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth.

"My adrenaline was pumping, because I haven't been in a situation like that late in a game in a long time," Brock said. "That got the juices flowing."

The only run for Texas came in the second inning on a squeeze by Gurwitz that scored Collin Shaw, who had doubled to start the inning.

Texas had plenty of other opportunities but started 10 runners in the first five innings and eight of them were in scoring position.

The Longhorns (43-20) will play the Vanderbilt-Louisville loser on Monday at 3 o'clock in an elimination game. Garrido said there is history with a team coming back to win the national title after getting dumped into the losers' bracket.

"Remember in '79 when Fullerton lost in the first game in double elimination?" he asked. "I said they were going to win. Somebody said, ‘Hey it's only been done five times.' Now, it's been done six since '79.

"So we've got a chance, we have the right attitude."


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