Titans 4, Anteaters 5
Student eliminates coaching mentor in Irvine's victory
Updated: June 19, 2007, 2:41 AM ET
OMAHA, Neb. -- Longtime friends Dave Serrano and George Horton shared an embrace moments after UC Irvine had beaten Cal State Fullerton 5-4 in the longest game in College World Series history Monday.
The two coaches just as easily could have collapsed together in exhaustion after a tense elimination game between Serrano's upstart Anteaters and his mentor's tournament-tested Titans.
"I told him I loved him and thanks for everything," Serrano said. "He said. 'I'm proud of you. Continue to move on and win this thing.' "
Bryan Petersen's run-scoring single to center field in the bottom of the 13th inning ended the 5 hour, 40 minute affair and sent the Titans home after two games for the first time in nine CWS appearances since 1990.
Meanwhile, the Anteaters (46-16-1) play on in their first trip to Omaha, meeting the loser of Monday night's Arizona State-Oregon State game on Tuesday. Fullerton (38-25) was knocked out after losing for the third time in four games with the Anteaters this season.
The 97th meeting of the neighborhood rivals came more than 1,500 miles away from their Orange County campuses, on the game's biggest stage.
McKeever: Ante Up
UC Irvine survived 13 innings, nearly six hours and 96 baseballs of elimination game play with Cal State Fullerton on Monday. Clearly, it's going to take a lot of hard work to knock the Anteaters out, writes Curt McKeever. Story
It was emotional on a number of fronts.
Serrano pitched for Horton at Cerritos College and later served under him there as pitching coach. Serrano later coached under Horton at Fullerton before taking the UC Irvine head coaching job in 2004.
"The bad news is I had to say goodbye to my mentor, coach, friend, my second father, a guy I love a lot," Serrano said. "That's the toughest part about it, seeing his team eliminated. I wish our win hadn't been at their expense, but we went into this knowing one of us would be happy and one of us would be sad."
The time of the game beat the old CWS mark for longest game -- set in 1981 by Oklahoma State and Arizona State -- by 40 minutes.
Tension ran high, with a CWS record eight batters getting hit by pitches.
Despite committing a season-high six errors, UC Irvine came back three times to tie the Titans before overtaking them in a tense 13th inning that had Horton ejected for arguing a hit batsman call.
Petersen's winning hit came after Fullerton left fielder Josh Fellhauer had thrown out Taylor Holiday at home plate.
Holiday appeared to lean into a Bryan Harris pitch leading off the bottom of the 13th and was awarded first base by home-plate umpire David Buck. A steamed Horton argued and was tossed after Holiday was hit by a pitch for a third time in the game.
"It wasn't about him not moving," Horton said. "He stuck his arm out."
Holiday tried to score from second on Matt Morris' single. Fellhauer came charging in, picked up the ball and threw it on a line to catcher John Curtis, who blocked the plate and easily put the tag on Holiday.
Petersen followed with his hit to center, which scored Cody Cipriano from third. After Petersen touched first base, his teammates rushed out of the dugout and mobbed him in a dogpile.
Petersen also was the batter who doubled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth in UC Irvine's 3-2 super regional-clinching victory over Wichita State on June 10.
"That hit helped me a lot today," Petersen said. "I was more nervous before I hit in Wichita than I was here. I knew I had done it before. This is a big time of year, and I'm just trying to enjoy it."
Dylan Axelrod (6-4) pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief to get the win, allowing one hit and striking out seven.
Harris (2-3) worked the last five innings, giving up three hits and the winning run.
Holiday's first home run since April 1 pulled UC Irvine into a 3-all tie in the sixth. As Holiday watched his opposite-field drive land deep in the seats in right, he raised his right fist and pumped it before speeding up his home-run trot while rounding second.
Fullerton regained the lead in the seventh without getting a hit.
After Anteater starter Wes Etheridge walked Nick Mahin, Tom Calahan came on and walked John Curtis and intentionally walked Matt Wallach to load the bases. Calahan hit Jones on the right hand to force in a run.
Cipriano hit his school-record 13th home run leading off the bottom half to tie it 4-4.
"We hoped to go deeper in the tournament, but all the teams at the College World Series have momentum and visions of getting the trophy," Horton said. "It was a tough way to lose a game. I know the baseball purists were on the edge of their seats. Two teams went toe to toe, and unfortunately we came out on the short end."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press