WICHITA, Kan.- UC Irvine advanced to the College World Series with a 3-2 win over Wichita State in the bottom of the ninth inning on a Bryan Peterson fly ball to the wall that scored the winning run.
The Shockers broke a 21 2/3 scoreless inning streak by tying up the game in the top half of the ninth. Derek Schermerhorn lined one to left field for a base hit and Damon Sublett reached on an error by the shortstop. A ground ball from Conor Gillaspie advanced the runners and a line drive by Matt Brown froze the men and second and third. Danny Jackson drew a walk in a pinch-hit appearance and was replaced by Blake Hurlbutt to run at first. Tyler Hill delivered the two RBI single through the right side to even the score at two.
Wichita State starter Rob Musgrave got the first out of the bottom half of the frame before getting relieved by sophomore Anthony Capra. Capra allowed a single to shallow right field by Matt Morris who advanced to second on a wild pitch. This put him in position to score the winning run on a double over right fielder Matt Brown’s head, driven in by Bryan Petersen.
Capra suffered his first loss of the year, falling to 7-1. Musgrave ended with 8.1 innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out four.
The win went to Dylan Axelrod, who faced three batters in the ninth. Axelrod gave up the hit that allowed Wichita State back in the game, but the unearned runs were charged to starter Wes Etheridge. Etheridge threw 8.1 scoreless innings, giving up five hits and striking out four.
Wichita State lead-off hitter Andy Dirks opened the game with a single and stole second before UCI starter Wes Etheridge got Schermerhorn to strikeout and Sublett to ground out. Dirks moved to third on Sublett’s groundout before Conor Gillaspie groundout to second.
In the bottom of the first frame, UCI leadoff hitter Taylor Holiday took Musgrave’s second pitch down the left field line, off the top of Gillaspie’s glove for a double. Ben Orloff’s sac bunt moved Holiday to third and Gillaspie’s throw to first was errant to leave runners at the corners. Cody Cipriano took Musgrave to a full count on 11 pitches before striking out as Orloff stole second. Morris’ sac bunt then scored Holiday to get the Anteaters on the board first. Bryan Peterson then grounded out to first to end the inning.
In the second, Etheridge retired the side on ground-outs, while Musgrave retired the side on fly outs.
Tyler Weber and Dusty Coleman struck out to open WSU’s half of the third before Dirks grounded out to second.
UCI’s Tyler Vaughn and Taylor Holiday popped up to shortstop to open the bottom half of the third before Orloff’s well-placed bunt to the left side resulted in a hit. The inning ended when Cipriano flew out to right field.
Schermerhorn ground out to deep short to open the fourth inning, before Sublett groundout to second for the second out. Gillaspie ground out to short to end WSU’s half of the inning.
Morris poked a double down the line in left field to lead off the bottom half of the fourth, advanced to third on Peterson’s groundout, and scored on Cusick’s bloop single to right. Ollie Linton then advanced Cusick to second on a sac bunt. Musgrave then hit Aaron Lowenstein to put runners at first and second. WSU’s Tyler Weber then caught Cusick stealing to third on the first pitch to Vaughn to end the inning.
Brown and Josh Workman opened WSU’s fifth inning with groundouts, before Hill hit into the Shockers’ seventh-straight groundout, and 12th overall groundout.
UCI’s Vaughn led off the bottom of the frame trying to sneak in a bunt single, but WSU catcher Weber threw him out at first before Holiday flew out to left field. Musgrave then struck out Orloff for his second strikeout of the game.
In the WSU sixth, Weber led off with a groundout to third before Coleman struck out to bring the ground out streak to an end at 13 straight. Dirks then ended a streak of 17-straight batters retired by Etheridge when he got the Shockers’ second hit of the game and the first hit out of the infield. Schermerhorn ended the inning with a groundout to third.
In UCI’s sixth, Cipriano led off with a jam single to left before WSU right fielder Brown ran down Morris’s drive in the gap to right. Cipriano was caught stealing on the first pitch to Peterson, who proceeded to strike out for the third out of the inning.
In the seventh, UCI leftfielder Morris ran down Sublett’s hit to the warning track for the first out before Gillespie flied out the centerfield warning track to bring up Brown, who ground out to second.
Cusick grounded out to third, before Linton flied out to center to open the bottom half of the seventh. Lowenstein then struck out to give Musgrave his fourth on the day.
Josh Workman led off the Shocker eighth with a groundout to second before Hill’s single up the middle got WSU’s first baserunner since the sixth inning. Weber lined to left to keep Hill at first for the second out. WSU’s Ryan Jones then pinch hit for Coleman, and proceeded to move Hill to third with a hit up the middle. UCI leftfielder Morris ended the inning on a diving catch on Dirks’ line drive to left center.
The Shockers end the season at 53-22 and UC Irvine takes a record of 45-15-1 to Omaha.
Courtesy: Wichita State