For a pitcher who had not started a game this season until June 2, Chad Hollingsworth is making it look simple. Starting his second elimination game of the postseason, the right-hander tossed 8 1/3 scoreless innings in leading Texas past UC Irvine, 1-0, in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park.
Just as he had in his previous start, Hollingsworth (4-0) came up big when Texas (45-20) needed him the most. On June 2, Hollingsworth lifted the Longhorns past Texas A&M in the Houston Regional championship; tonight, Hollingsworth held UC Irvine (41-25) at bay, limiting the Anteaters’ efforts to put runners in motion.
Thrust into the starting rotation, Hollingsworth still has not allowed an earned run in the postseason. After tossing a complete game in his first start, Hollingsworth came up two outs short of matching the feat on Wednesday, adding five strikeouts and three hits in Wednesday’s win.
Travis Duke recorded the final two outs to preserve the shutout, the 12th of the year for Texas. The 1-0 final was just the second at the College World Series since 1985, joining the effort of Oregon State last year.
The 21st overall shutout in the 2014 NCAA Tournament marked a new high in the history of the event.
In the NCAA Tournament, Hollingsworth has now gone 17 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, five walks and eight strikeouts.
Hollingsworth controlled UC Irvine’s attack throughout the night, as the Anteaters did not put a runner in scoring position until the sixth inning, which Hollingsworth ended with a strikeout, his fifth.
UC Irvine’s best chance to tie the game came in the eighth. Adam Alcantara was hit by a pitch to start the inning before Jason Castro moved him to second with a sacrifice – the first of the night in a game featuring the nation’s most prolific bunting teams.
Hollingsworth then got Taylor Sparks, the hero of the teams’ first meeting, to foul out before Chris Rabago bounced to short, ending the inning.
The Anteaters put the tying run on in the ninth when Connor Spencer singled to lead off the frame, but Hollingsworth and Duke retired the next three batters to end UC Irvine’s season.
The game’s lone run would arrive in ballyhooed fashion — after 11 consecutive games without a home run at the College World Series, shortstop C.J. Hinojosa clubbed the first of the 2014 edition to put Texas on the board. Leading off the seventh, Hinojosa launched a 2-0 offering from Evan Manarino (4-4) over the UC Irvine bullpen in left for his second homer of the year.
The home run snapped a streak of 115 innings at the CWS without a homer, dating back to Hunter Renfroe’s fifth-inning shot for Mississippi State on June 21, 2013.
Manarino, making his first start since May 13, equaled Hollingsworth through the first six innings. The left-hander tossed a season-high 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, striking out seven and giving up just the one run.
Texas nearly plated the game’s first run in the sixth. Ben Johnson snuck a ground ball past a diving Taylor Sparks down the third base line, taking third base when Alcantara could not come up with the ball cleanly along the left field wall.
With Johnson standing on third, UC Irvine appealed to first, where the first base umpire ruled Johnson out for missing the base. Mark Payton followed with a single to center that would have plated Johnson, had he still been on third. A force out ended the inning.
After the College World Series had seen just one game go to the seventh inning scoreless in the last 21 years, tonight’s was the second in as many nights.
Meeting for the second time in this CWS, Texas head coach Augie Garrido picked up his 1,919th career win, five days after UC Irvine’s Mike Gillespie collected his 1,037th at Texas’ expense. The duo owns a combined 21 appearances in the CWS, but was just the third overall meeting for the coaching legends at the CWS.
Improving to 33-28 all-time in CWS elimination games and 2-0 in this trip, Texas will take on Vanderbilt on Friday at 2 p.m. CDT. The Longhorns will need two wins to reach their first CWS championship series since 2009.
Be sure to check out our other coverage from Texas’ 1-0 win to stay alive: