A small village of Longhorns was left to waste away on the base paths in the early innings on Saturday, keeping the score at 1-0 Texas and keeping UC Irvine in the ballgame. Nathan Thornhill was brilliant, but finally lost his stranglehold on the Anteaters in the eighth inning. Irvine took advantage of its opportunity, putting up three runs where two would have been plenty. The Longhorn offense went quietly--granted, with the help of a couple of called strikes that were a foot outside--in the eighth and ninth, and Texas found itself in the losers' bracket.
Unlike the 2011 CWS appearance, wherein Texas went 1-2-BBQ and was clearly outmatched, this game could have gone either way. To his credit, Eaters' pitcher Andrew Morales worked out of trouble several times early in the game when the Horns could have blown it open. The timely hitting that led UT past A&M in the regional and Houston in the Super was absent, aside from a perfect squeeze bunt in the second inning that scored the only run for the Longhorns.
Irvine, on the other hand, did eventually get that timely hitting with guys on base in the top of the eighth. The 3-1 loss is a heartbreaker since it was between two very evenly matched teams, but now all Texas can do is win the next one. If they can manage to "win the next one" four times, they'll play for a national title. A single loss in the next four games, and a beautiful NCAA Tournament run will be over.
Weather permitting, Texas will take on Louisville today at 2:00--meaning a second straight game against a team whose uniforms Adidas has ruined with a ridiculous watermark. The Cards fell behind Vanderbilt 4-0, fought back to 4-3, then allowed an insurance run on a passed ball that provided the final 5-3 margin of defeat. Louisville had been a perfect 5-0 in the Tournament coming into Omaha, but several mistakes--including nine walks--helped Vandy overcome them.
Sophomore Anthony Kidston will get the ball for Louisville, with his 9-0 record and 3.54 ERA. He has thrown only 68.2 innings in 13 starts, meaning Texas will have a chance to chase him early if they are patient at the plate. Parker French will take the hill for Texas, looking to stave off elimination until at least Wednesday.
The game is at 2:00 PM (theoretically) on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.com. This is your open thread. Hook 'em!