OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Texas is in the same position it was in during its previous College World Series appearance. This time the Longhorns are hoping for a different ending.
Nathan Thornhill carried a shutout into the eighth Saturday before UC Irvine's Taylor Sparks hit his nation-leading ninth triple to start a three-run inning that sent the Longhorns to a 3-1 loss in the opening game of the College World Series.
The Longhorns (43-20), who also lost their first CWS game in 2011, hope to avoid their second straight two-and-out in Omaha. They play Monday against Louisville, a 5-3 loser to Vanderbilt in the night game.
"This is not the position we want to be in, but I don't think we're going to feel sorry for ourselves," Thornhill said. "We're going to try to find a way to dig out of it. We've got a lot of fight in us."
The wind was blowing in at 35 mph at cavernous TD Ameritrade Park, and Sparks' hit was the longest of the day. It barely reached the warning track.
But with Texas' outfield playing extremely shallow, his drive to left-center was more than enough to get the Anteaters' offense going.
"The wind was really howling, so I knew anything lifted, it wasn't going anywhere," Sparks said. "I just tried to stay flat with that and was able to travel through the gap. It's definitely my most special and favorite hit so far."
Texas is making its record 35th CWS appearance, with 75-year-old coach Augie Garrido trying to win a national title in a fifth decade. He won championships with Cal State Fullerton in 1979, 1984 and 1995 and with Texas in 2002 and 2005.
"Remember in '79 when Fullerton lost the first game in the double elimination? I said they were going to win?" Garrido said. "So we've got a chance, we've got the right attitude, we've got the right group of guys."
One of the last four teams selected for the NCAA tournament, UC Irvine (41-23) continued to amaze during a postseason run in which it knocked off No. 1 national seed Oregon State and swept a super regional at Oklahoma State.
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