OMAHA, Neb. – With the wind blowing in at 35 mph at cavernous TD Ameritrade Park, UC Irvine’s Taylor Sparks hit the longest ball all day. It barely reached the warning track.
But with Texas’ outfield playing extremely shallow Saturday, his drive to left center for his nation-leading ninth triple was more than enough to get the Anteaters’ offense going in a 3-1 victory over Texas in the opening game of the College World Series.
The wind was really howling, so I knew anything lifted, it wasn’t going anywhere, Sparks said. I just tried to stay flat with that and was able to travel through the gap. It’s definitely my most special and favorite hit so far.
One of the last four teams selected for the NCAA tournament, UC Irvine (41-23) continued to amaze during a postseason run in which it knocked off No. 1 national seed Oregon State and swept a super regional at Oklahoma State.
By keeping the game close, and with there being no clock in this game, it was possible for us to do what we did in the eighth, Irvine coach Mike Gillespie said. Taylor Sparks had a spectacular game both on offense and defense. We strung together some hits, so it was a good win for us.
The Anteaters advanced to a winner’s game Monday against Vanderbilt. The Longhorns (43-20) play Louisville.
VANDERBILT 5, LOUISVILLE 3: Dansby Swanson doubled in two runs, and Adam Ravenelle pitched 2 1/3 innings of shutout relief to help the Commodores (46-19) win in a grinding, 3-hour, 40-minute game that saw the Cardinals (50-16) issue nine walks, its third-most of the season. One of the Cardinals’ two wild pitches produced a Vanderbilt run.
Another run came home on a passed ball after Vanderbilt saw its 4-0 lead shrink to 4-3 in the seventh.