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OMAHA, Neb. -- It took UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton 96 baseballs and 5 hours and 40 minutes to play their elimination game at the College World Series here Monday afternoon.
And shortly after the Anteaters beat their fellow Big West Conference member for the third time in four meetings this season -- on Bryan Petersen's two-out single to shallow center that let Cody Cipriano end the epic struggle with a too-easy trot in from third base -- Fullerton's veteran coach George Horton may have needed some extra tissues, as well.
You see, it's not easy -- win or lose -- to have to match wits with someone you once coached and then later spent eight seasons showing the ropes to before he went off to build his own college baseball power.
Horton's "reward" for those teachings was to have Dave Serrano's third Irvine club rally from a 3-1 deficit to win the longest game in CWS history.
"In defeat, this will be a day I remember for a long time," said Horton, who gave Serrano a hearty postgame hug and also wasn't too proud to shed some tears, not all of which contained sadness. "I told him I loved him -- and I do. And I told him to win the tournament."
Serrano's club has quite a bit of work yet ahead of it -- needing three straight victories, exactly -- to advance to the best-of-three championship series.
But if Monday's outcome was any indication, don't count out these Anteaters.
They sent Fullerton (38-25) to its first 0-2 showing at the CWS in nine appearances despite making six errors and stranding 16 runners.
1 North Carolina is the only team remaining in the College World Series that has not hit a home run yet.
10 It has been 10 years since we had a repeat champion (LSU).
But even though the game stretched to a College World Series record 5 hours and 40 minutes, the teams used fewer pitchers combined than North Carolina did in Sunday's game against Rice. (And that's not a typo -- Cal State Fullerton's pitchers issued just two walks in 13 innings.)
|UC Irvine's pitchers|
|Cal State Fullerton's pitchers|
|PHOTO OF THE GAME|
AP Photo/Eric Francis
Clark Hardman's fifth-inning diving catch was one of the College World Series' best defensive plays.
College World Series Recap
|PHOTO OF THE GAME|
AP Photo/Ted Kirk
Bow down to the champs: Oregon State's Mike Lissman is greeted at the dugout by teammates Joey Wong and Darwin Barney after hitting a three-run homer.
|STOCK UP/stock down|
|Dylan Axelrod||UC Irvine||P|
|Axelrod pitched 4 2/3 innings of one-hit ball, striking out seven of the 16 batters he faced. His performance was huge for the Anteaters.|
|Josh Fellhauer||Cal State Fullerton||OF|
|The freshman left-fielder's throw to home in the 13th to extend Fullerton's playoff life (albeit for a few pitches) would have made Manny Ramirez drool. His 1-for-7 performance at the plate, however, was decidedly un-Mannylike.|
|Eric Sogard||Arizona State||2B|
|Sogard drove in a third of Arizona State's runs, going 2-for-5 at the plate.|
|Mike Lissman||Oregon State||LF|
|Lissman's power bat continues to pace Oregon State's offense. His three-run homer against ASU was just part of his 3-for-4, four-RBI performance.|