OMAHA, Neb. – C.J. Hinojosa broke the College World Series’ long home run drought in the seventh inning, Chad Hollingsworth and Travis Duke limited UC Irvine to four hits, and Texas beat the Anteaters 1-0 in an elimination game Wednesday night.
Hinojosa became the first player to homer at the CWS in 115 innings, since Mississippi State’s Hunter Renfroe did it against Oregon State on June 21, 2013. It was Hinojosa’s second homer of the season.
The Longhorns (45-20) advance to meet Vanderbilt on Friday. They would need to beat the Commodores (48-19) twice to reach next week’s best-of-three finals.
UC Irvine (41-25) went 1-2 in its surprise CWS appearance that came about after it upset No. 1 national seed Oregon State as a No. 3 regional seed and swept Oklahoma State on the road in the super regionals.
Hollingsworth (4-0) followed a complete-game win against Houston in a regional final with another strong performance. Only two UC Irvine runners made it past first base against him, and he struck out five and walked none before he left to an ovation from fans in burnt orange. Duke got the last two outs for his second save of the CWS.
Texas center fielder Mark Payton prevented a run from scoring in the third inning after Hollingsworth hit Adam Alcantara with a pitch. Taylor Sparks drove a ball into the right-center gap, but Payton gave chase and made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch.
A baserunning error cost the Longhorns a chance to score in the sixth, when Ben Johnson grounded into the left-field corner. Johnson’s right foot missed the bag as he rounded first on his way to third. UC Irvine appealed, and first-base umpire Scott Erby called Johnson out. Payton then hit a first-pitch single that would have scored Johnson.
The next inning, Hinojosa turned on Irvine left-handed starter Evan Manarino’s 2-0 fastball and sent it off the wall in the back of the bullpen in left field for his fourth homer in 115 career games, and first since April 11. He raised his right hand as he rounded first base and was greeted by a mob of teammates after he touched home plate.
Other than Hinojosa’s home run, the Longhorns did little against Manarino (4-4) in his first postseason start. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings.