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June 18, 2007

Anteaters win marathon

OMAHA, Neb -- Dave Serrano called it west coast college baseball at its finest. Two programs that know each other inside and out tussled for a College World Series record five hours and forty minutes before Serrano's UC Irvine squad beat Cal State Fullerton 5-4 on a walkoff Bryan Peterson single with two outs in the thirteenth inning.

The game featured a matchup between Serrano, a former Fullerton assistant, and his former boss George Horton.

"This is a typical game in the Big West Conference," Serrano said. "We knew it would be a drag-out fight all the way. Both teams had opportunities and got out of jams. It is hard to say goodbye to a mentor, coach, friend, and second father. I wish our win wasn't at their expense. That is the only negative today."

Well, maybe not the only negative.

The Anteaters committed a season-high six errors, but also drew six hit-by-pitches. One of them was key as Taylor Holiday leaned into a Bryan Harris pitch in the thirteenth. That was third time Holiday had been hit by Fullerton pitches in the game. Horton came out to argue and was eventually ejected.

"I felt he stuck his arm out," Horton said. "He stands in the back of the box and jumps into the pitch. We alerted the umpire what he was doing but the umpire said he was not intentionally getting hit. This wasn't about him not moving, it was that he stuck his arm into it."

As fate would have it, Holliday nearly scored the winning run earlier in the thirteenth but was nailed at the plate by a strong throw from leftfielder Josh Fellhauer. The throw was on the line and never bounced as catcher John Curtis caught the ball and tagged Holiday in one motion.

After a pitching change, Bryan Peterson smacked a 1-1 pitch off Dustin Birosak to end the game.

In the seventh, Fullerton starter Jeff Kaplan and UCI three-hole hitter Cody Cipriano battled. On the at bat's fourteenth pitch, Cipriano slammed an opposite field home run tying the game.

"Early in the at bat I had one of the worst swings ever," Cipriano said. "I was too juiced and I almost fell down on my swing. But when we got to two strikes, I did not want to put it in the umpire's hands. I was battling to get a good pitch. He left one out over the plate and I was lucky enough to get the barrel on it."

Holliday also homered for the Anteaters while Matt Wallach homered for the Titans. UCI's Matt Morris had a game-high four hits.

Both teams got strong starts. UCI's Wes Etheridge scattered nine hits over six innings. Tom Calahan worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed just one hit. Dylan Axelrod (6-4) worked the final 4 2/3 of one-hit shutout ball for the win. Fullerton just had two hits off the Anteater bullpen.

Titan starter Kaplan also worked six innings allowing ten hits and four runs. Adam Jorgenson provided a scoreless 1 2/3 while Bryan Harris (2-3) worked five solid before Peterson's hit off Birosak ended the game.

UC Irvine returns to play Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT against the loser of Arizona State/Oregon State.

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