For all you baseball fans that missed the loser's bracket College World Series game between UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton, you missed a game that displayed all that is wonderful and great about baseball. Indeed, this game exemplified everything we all love about the game itself. This game involved 50 or so amateur athletes playing the game they love for simply the that: the love of the game. Many of these athletes participated in what could be their final competitive baseball game of their lives. And boy what a game it was.
This game had everything. A thirteen inning, record 5 hour and 40 minute ordeal involving two Big West rivals separated by twenty-two miles in Orange County. A Cinderella squad against a powerhouse. Even better, the Cinderella squad came out on top. In fact, this was the Boise State-Oklahoma of college baseball. Or, dare I say, the Average Joes-Globo Gym. (Sorry Dodgeball is on and I couldn't resist.) And don't say it didn't have the fantastic ending. In the bottom of the 13th inning, with one out, Fullerton pitcher Bryan Harris hit Taylor Holiday with a pitch, and then was promptly ejected for arguing that Holiday leaned into the pitch. After a single advanced Holiday to second, Matt Morris singled to left. Holiday tried to score, but left-fielder Josh Fellhauer threw a line to catcher John Curtis, who blocked the plate beautifully and tagged Holiday out. Two down. However, men were now on second and third. Bryan Peterson, who hit a walk-off homer against Witchita State in the Super Regionals, came up to bat and promptly singled up the middle. Game over, Cinderella still alive, the powerhouse Titans two-and-out.
The game had intensity, eight hit batsmen. It had defense. Fullerton center-fielder Clark Hardman made a spectacular catch in the third with men on first and third with two down to preserve a 3-1 lead. It had home runs. Taylor Holiday, yes the same, hit a homer in the bottom of the sixth with a man on first to tie it at 3. It even had a coaching substory. Irvine coach Dave Serrano played for Fullerton coach George Horton at Cerritos College, and then coached under him at Fullerton before accepting the Irvine job in 2004. After the game, the two longtime friends embraced at home plate and shared a few kind words.
After witnessing one of the greatest baseball games in recent memory, I was reminded - again - why baseball has such a hold on myself and millions of others. This game showed everything we love about the game, and in the end, it had the ending we all were secretly hoping for. That is, unless, your a Fullerton student or alumni. If you missed the game, you missed one of the finest baseball games in CWS history, and one of the greatest games I have ever witnessed. And I'm sure those who saw it will back me up on this: I won't forget it anytime soon.