(5) Sun Devils 7, Anteaters 8
UC Irvine rallies from four down to knock out Arizona State
Updated: June 20, 2007, 12:46 AM ET
OMAHA, Neb. -- That team with a funny nickname is serious about winning a national championship.
The UC Irvine Anteaters won in their final at-bat for the third time in four games on Tuesday night, knocking off Arizona State 8-7 in 10 innings in an elimination game at the College World Series.
The hero this time was Ollie Linton, whose bases-loaded single completed their comeback from four runs down in the eighth inning and extended their first appearance in the CWS.
So after beating Texas in the regionals, Wichita State in the super regionals and neighborhood rival Cal State Fullerton and then Arizona State in the CWS, the Anteaters now take aim at defending national champion Oregon State.
The Anteaters (47-16-1) must beat the Beavers on Wednesday and again Thursday to win their bracket and reach the best-of-three championship round.
"The 2007 UC Irvine Anteaters don't want to take their uniforms off," coach Dave Serrano said. "It's going to take someone to do something special to eliminate us from this. We've had seven victories in the postseason, and each one has gotten better."
UC Irvine became the first team in the CWS' 61-year history to win extra-inning games on consecutive days. They beat Cal State Fullerton 5-4 in 13 innings on Monday in a 5-hour, 40-minute game, the longest in CWS history.
"I said yesterday was one of the best games I've ever been a part of, not realizing today would top that," Serrano said.
Matt Morris singled, Bryan Petersen was intentionally walked and Sean Madigan singled to load the bases with one out in the 10th against ASU reliever Mike Leake.
The pro-Irvine crowd began chanting "Let's Go Eaters" as Linton walked to the plate. After he sent Leake's 2-2 pitch into right field to break the 7-7 tie, then was mobbed by teammates near first base as the fans' chants turned to "Oll-ie, Oll-ie."
"Before I got to the plate, Coach Serrano told me if Madigan wasn't going to do it right here, I would do it," Linton said. "All I could think was positive thoughts. He got me out the time before, and he tried to bust me in with a curve that he got me with in my previous at-bat. He left it a little high, I fought it, and the ball got through."
The Anteaters got out of trouble in the top of the 10th after the Sun Devils loaded the bases with one out.
Scott Gorgen (13-3) beaned Rocky Laguna leading off -- the CWS-record 37th hit batsmen -- before Andrew Romine singled and Raoul Torrez reached on a fielder's choice. Then Pacific-10 player of the year Brett Wallace, hitless in 11 CWS at-bats, grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Irvine's last three wins have come with dramatic flair.
Petersen was the hero in the first two, doubling in the winning run to clinch the super regional against Wichita State, and he singled in the winning run to end the marathon with Fullerton.
The Sun Devils weren't going to let Petersen beat them, too. After Morris stole second base during Petersen's at-bat in the 10th, Leake (13-2) intentionally walked him. Madigan singled to load the bases for Linton, a .347 batter who was just 2-for-12 in the CWS.
After the Sun Devils (49-15) lost consecutive games for the first time since March, coach Pat Murphy said the Anteaters remind him of his 2005 team. That squad lost its first game at the CWS, then won three straight elimination games before losing in their bracket final to Florida.
"A team of destiny," Murphy said of the Anteaters. "Probably not going to win the whole thing -- but they might."
The Anteaters trailed 7-3 when they tied it in the eighth after reliever Jason Jarvis couldn't find the strike zone. Jarvis walked three straight hitters to open the inning, hit Ben Orloff with a pitch to force in a run and then gave up an RBI single to Cody Cipriano.
Leake relieved, and Morris tied it with a two-run double into the gap in right-center. Cipriano rounded third on the play as if he was going to run through third-base coach Greg Bergeron's stop sign. But Cipriano stopped suddenly, touched Bergeron and was called out for coach's interference.
Leake got out of trouble when Arizona State turned its fourth double play on Madigan's grounder.
Arizona State's Brian Flores held UC Irvine to five hits over six innings in his second start in two nights. He was the losing pitcher in the 12-6 loss to Oregon State on Monday. The junior left-hander worked one inning against the Beavers, allowing two runs and four hits.
He was the fourth pitcher since 1965 to start on consecutive days in the CWS and the first since Fullerton's Dave Weatherman in 1979.
Flores, who struck out three and walked none, didn't come out for the seventh after Cipriano's school-record 14th homer put the Anteaters up 3-2.
The Sun Devils scored twice in the seventh and three times in the eighth to take the 7-3 lead. Petey Paramore had a homer and two doubles for the Sun Devils.
Oregon State will be well-rested for the Anteaters, who used up most of their pitching Monday and Tuesday.
No way is Serrano conceding.
"We're playing on emotion and adrenaline right now," he said, "and that gives us a shot."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press