Baseball's Season Concludes At 2008 NCAA College Station Regional
June 1, 2008
College Station, Texas- The UIC baseball team rallied from a four-run deficit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings, but Houston scored three runs in the top of the 11th to defeat the Flames, 14-11, in an elimination game at the 2008 NCAA College Station Regional on Sunday.
UIC finished the season 35-22. The Flames earned their seventh straight Horizon League regular season title, fourth Horizon League tournament crown, fourth NCAA Regional berth and second-ever NCAA postseason win during the campaign.
"It's impossible not to be proud of our kids this weekend," said UIC head coach Mike Dee. "They bounced back from an awful showing on Friday to win a game against a No. 2 seed, and they battled every pitch today. They really did.
"I'm just proud of our kids and proud of the effort they've given us all year."
Houston (41-23) took an 11-7 lead into the bottom of the ninth when the Flames loaded the bases. With UIC down to its final strike, Tony Altavilla delivered a single to right that drove in two. Cougar right fielder Caleb Ramsey's throw sailed past the reach of Bryan Pounds at third base, allowing Kevin Coddington to score and Altavilla to take third.
Altavilla's advancement on the error proved to be critical, as reliever Chase Dempsay unleashed a wild pitch that brought the lightning-quick junior home with the tying tally.
But the Cougars had the bags packed in the 11th for Chris Wallace, who drilled a double off the wall in center to drive in two runs. Ramsey followed by hitting a single up the middle to bring home another run and put Houston up by three.
The Flames brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the 11th in the form of Altavilla, but reliever Jared Ray induced a game-ending flyout to left field.
"In a game like that there are so many things you can go back and say `if this happened' or 'if this didn't happen,' and the truth is I just thought they played their hearts out today," said Dee. "I am so proud of them. I'm really not all that disappointed because that's all we ever ask of our kids, to play as hard as they can, and I think they did that.
"We came up short today, but we're not walking out of here feeling like we certainly couldn't have won this game and beaten that team."
Houston had led for most of the game, thanks to a four-run second inning that broke an early 2-2 tie, but the resilient Flames stayed within striking distance throughout.
Both teams came out of the gates at a rapid offensive pace, combining to score 11 runs in the opening two innings alone.
A two-out walk issued to Pounds in the first came back to haunt starter Grant Kohlstaedt. Jimmy Cesario hit a double to drive in the day's first score, and Ryan Lormand tacked on another run with an RBI single.
UIC answered in its first chance to bat. Steve McGuiggan's leadoff single and a walk to Ty Rubio allowed Jake Carr to move a pair into scoring position on his sac bunt. McGuiggan scored on Brett Schaefer's groundout to short, and Rubio came home when Coddington scorched a single up the middle for a game-tying RBI.
Jake Stewart's single to left in the second pushed Houston back in front and put two runners on for Pounds, who hit Kohlstaedt's 2-2 offering over the center field wall for a three-run shot.
The Flames answered the Cougars' second-inning outburst with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Jason Ganek launched a ball deep into the gap in right center for a two-run triple and scored one batter later on McGuiggan's sac fly, cutting the deficit down to a single run.
Houston extended its lead to 7-5 when Wallace homered off of Derrick Miramontes to start the fourth.
After a leadoff walk to McGuiggan in the fifth eventually paid off in a run on Carr's RBI single, the Flames went on to load the bases with just one away in that same inning. But reliever Donnie Joseph induced a double-play ground ball off the bat of Rafael Garcia to end the threat.
A pair of unearned Cougar runs crossed the plate during a sloppy sixth in which the Flames committed three errors.
Carr singled and Schaefer was hit by a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate with just one out in the seventh. Coddington grounded into what appeared to be an inning-ending double play, but shortstop Blake Kelso's throw to first was off-target and allowed Carr to score a crucial run.
Adam Worthington gave up two runs in the top of the ninth, but that did not deter the young Flames in the next half-inning. Rubio's leadoff walk, Schaefer's double down the left field line and a free pass to Coddington set the stage for Altavilla's game-tying heroics.
McGuiggan made a pair of spectacular diving catches in center field, laying out for grabs in the third and sixth innings.
This was the second straight season that UIC stayed alive through the third day of NCAA Regional play.