OMAHA, Neb. — Texas sophomore shortstop C.J. Hinojosa turned on a 2-0 fastball in the seventh inning Wednesday night and produced the first home run of the 2014 College World Series.
It also proved to be the only run of the night as Texas defeated UC Irvine, 1-0, in a Bracket One elimination game won thanks to stellar pitching, outstanding defense and one Hinojosa swing.
With their season on the line for a second straight game, Texas (45-20) turned the ball over to Chad Hollingsworth (4-0) for his second start of the season. After delivering a two-hit shutout in the Regionals against rival Texas A&M in the first, Hollingsworth was nearly as unhittable in the second.
The sophomore right hander allowed four hits in 8.1 innings to outduel UC Irvine lefty Evan Manarino. Making his first start in a month, Manarino (4-4) did something he hadn’t done in two months, pitched more than five innings.
He produced his longest outing of the season, pitching 6.1 innings. Six of those were scoreless, but in the seventh inning, Manarino fell behind C.J. Hinojosa 2-0 and left a fastball up.
“I left it over the plate, and he was a good hitter,” Manarino said. “He took advantage of it and drove it to left field, and that was it.”
Hinojosa, who had only one home run in 233 at bats prior, knocked the first homer in TD Ameritrade Park this season. That proved to be the only run of the night, thanks in part to a tremendous diving catch by Mark Payton in right-centerfield to rob Taylor Sparks of an RBI extra-base hit.
“I saw it off the bat well and I just got a good jump and tried to run to the spot,” Payton said. “We kind of made an adjustment today by playing Sparks deeper than in the first game. He burned us in left field. So just got a good jump, took a good route and made the catch.”
UC Irvine got a runner in scoring position only twice, but couldn’t get the big hit to even the score.
Adam Alcantara reached base three time for the ‘Eaters, going 1-for-1 with two hit by pitches. Payton and UC Irvine hit machine Connor Spencer each went 2-for-4.
For Spencer, his potential final at bat of college was appropriately a single in the ninth inning. He said it was a surreal experience for him to look out and see the crowd in a large stadium after his first collegiate at bat came at Minute Maid Park in the Houston Classic.
“All I could think about was how I’m going to tell my kids about the experiences I’ve had and the big league feeling you get coming here.”
The Longhorns advance to Friday’s afternoon matchup with Vanderbilt. Texas will have to beat the Commodores on Friday and then again on Saturday to advance to the championship series.
UC Irvine‘s season is over. The ‘Eaters finish 41-25 on the year as the Corvallis Regional and Stillwater Super Regional champions. They were the final West Coast team still alive, so the national championship will not reside in Southern California for two years in a row.
Here’s CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling‘s top shots from the 2014 College World Series Tuesday night marathon matchup at TD Ameritrade Park:
Be sure to check out our other coverage from Texas’ 1-0 win to stay alive: