UCI junior Bryan Petersen, drafted in the fourth round by the Florida Marlins Thursday — the highest of the eight Anteaters selected — drove a 3-2 fastball over the right fielder's head for a double to drive in Matt Morris, before being tackled by teammates and submerged by a dog pile behind second base.
What a reversal, indeed.
Yet, the biggest reversal of all could be the fact that UCI, which had no baseball program from 1993 through the 2001 season, has taken only six years to go from extinction to the center of the college baseball world. The Anteaters will debut at the College World Series against Arizona State Saturday at a time to be determined.
"UC Irvine is going to the College World Series and that's something that just doesn't go in the same sentence all the time," UCI Coach Dave Serrano said. "But I'm hoping that it becomes a tradition. This team has set the bar pretty high for anyone in the future."
There were mostly highs for the Anteaters Sunday, as junior starting pitcher Wes Etheridge cruised through seven innings, blanked the Shockers (53-22) through eight, and appeared destined to finish off what would have been the Anteaters' third shutout in five postseason games.
Instead, Wichita, which had won seven of its last eight elimination games, including four straight to win its own regional last week, chased Etheridge in the ninth. WSU then erased a 2-0 lead against UCI senior Dylan Axelrod, the designated hosts' second reliever of the game.
Derek Schermerhorn opened the Shockers' ninth with a line single to left. It was the fifth hit off Etheridge, but the third since the seventh, to which point he had baffled the Shockers.