The College World Series is always one of the most pressure-packed events in all of sports, but never more so than when there is a do-or-die elimination game on hand.
That is exactly what baseball fans will be treated to Wednesday as UC Irvine and Texas clash for the second time in five days in Omaha. The Anteaters won the first matchup 3-1, but both teams now stand at 1-1.
Here is a look at the schedule and broadcast information for Day 5.
Day 5 Broadcast Information
Date: Wednesday, June 18
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
As mentioned, UC Irvine already beat Texas once, but it struggled mightily at the plate until the eighth inning when it broke free for the decisive three runs. Taylor Sparks, Chris Rabago and Jonathan Munoz led the rally, but it was the pitching that was most impressive for the Anteaters.
Starter Andrew Morales pitched six innings and allowed only one run, while Evan Manarino and Evan Brock combined for three innings of scoreless ball from the bullpen. Brock was particularly effective and didn’t allow a hit.
Whichever team wins this time around will have to beat Vanderbilt twice to advance to the national championship series. The Commodores are undefeated in this double-elimination format.
That may seem like a daunting task for the underdog Anteaters, but Morales commented on his team’s belief, via Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated:
As much as we surprised everybody else I think we surprised ourselves a little too. But after Oregon State, we had a little swagger. It showed us, ‘Hey, we can hit and pitch with the best.’ We’re finally proving it to ourselves.
As for Texas, it will put its season on the line behind Chad Hollingsworth, who sports a sparkling 1.36 ERA on the year. However, this is only his second start of the season, although the first saw him pitch a complete-game one-hitter against Texas A&M.
UC Irvine will turn the ball over to Manarino, who started 10 times with a 2.79 ERA. Yet, he hasn’t started since May 13 and saw all of his recent action from the bullpen, including the aforementioned appearance against Texas.
The stamina of the pitchers will be something to keep an eye on in this one. Yes, both are excellent in their own right, but we are talking about players who predominantly come out of the bullpen. Manarino may not quite be as talented as Hollingsworth, but he has more starting experience this season, which will pay dividends on this big stage.
The Anteaters are also perfectly built to compete in a low-scoring affair.
UC Irvine utilizes sacrifice bunts, timely steals, hit-and-runs and the occasional rally to tally postseason victories. Tim Brando of SiriusXM Radio was certainly entertained by it earlier in the CWS:
Ultimately, the Anteaters fell short against mighty Vanderbilt, but they have already proven they can win that way against Texas. As long as Manarino turns in a solid start, UC Irvine will scrap together enough runs to eliminate the Longhorns.
Prediction: UC Irvine 4, Texas 2
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