417 pitches and an end-of-the-game hug

UC Irvine’s Taylor Holiday hugs Justin Klipp of Cal State Fullerton after an elimination game in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Michael Goulding | Orange County Register

Credit: DKS Editors

OMAHA, Neb. (MCT) – After the winning run crossed the plate that ended the 13-inning marathon and the players had shaken hands, the two coaches approached each other. They stopped briefly, then embraced.

That’s about as extraordinary as a 5-hour, 40-minute college baseball game.

But Monday’s College World Series game between UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton was as close to atypical as anything the 61-year-old tournament has seen. Records fell, runs scored, batters were hit, a runner was thrown out at the plate and many pitches – 417 of them – were tossed. So was one coach.

The most remarkable sight, however, came moments after Irvine’s Bryan Petersen singled in the winning run to defeat Fullerton, 5-4, in front of 16,451 fans and extend the Anteaters’ stay. That’s when Fullerton coach George Horton met with Irvine coach Dave Serrano on the Rosenblatt Stadium field.

“I told him I would never talk to him again,” said Horton, stopping briefly to regain his composure. “No, I told him I loved him and he said he loved me. I love him.”

The Anteaters (46-16-1) play Arizona State at 4 p.m. PDT Tuesday in another elimination game.

The on-field moment between the coaches was almost as emotional as the record-long game.

The fourth-ranked Anteaters started the 13th inning with Taylor Holiday reaching first when he was hit by a pitch on the left arm. He appeared to turn into reliever Bryan Harris’ pitch, which irritated Horton.

Horton, whose pitchers had plunked five previous batters, stormed out of the dugout to argue the call. After failing to persuade the umpires to reverse the ruling, Horton went back to the dugout but continued to argue and eventually got thrown out of the game.

“I stepped up in the box,” Holiday said. “I was trying to get a pitch in, get on base and get something started.”

Holiday (2 for 4, 2 RBIs) went to second on a sacrifice, and that was followed by an intentional walk to Cody Cipriano, putting runners at first and second.

The Anteaters had a chance to win the game on Matt Morris’ single to left, but Fullerton left fielder Josh Fellhauer threw out Holiday at the plate.

The putout at home could have deflated the Anteaters. Instead, Irvine, making its World Series debut, won the game with the next at-bat, when Petersen (3 for 6) drove in Cipriano with his single off Dustin Birosak, sending Cal State Fullerton to its earliest exit since they went 0 and 2 in 1990.

“The game was lying in Josh’s hands and he made a great throw,” Fullerton first baseman Matt Wallach said. “The momentum was there, and then we turned around and the season was over.”

Both teams had chances to win it in the ninth but failed to score. The teams left a combined 32 runners on base.

Harris (2-3) seemed to tire after five innings of relief and was pulled after giving up the single to Morris.

“I think a lot of times in the game we made them pay,” Harris said. “They did what they needed to do to get on base and they are here for that reason.”