One strike away.
Those three words will haunt the 2011 UC Irvine baseball team, much the same way "three outs away" provided a similarly painful reminder in 2008 that no trip to Omaha is secure until the 27th out is recorded in the second win of an NCAA Super Regional.
UCI came within one pitch of upsetting No. 1 national seed Virginia in Game 3 of their Super Regional, winning the best-of-three series and earning the program's second trip to the College World Series on Monday at the Cavaliers' Davenport Field.
Instead, Virginia (54-10), which had two outs and nobody on against All-American pitcher Matt Summers, rallied for two runs and a 3-2 victory that deflated not only those in Anteaters' uniforms, but all of 'Eater Nation.
"When you get that close, it's mentally painful and disappointing," UCI Coach Mike Gillespie, reached by phone in Charlottesville, said. "The players are just devastated. The time will come when everybody will realize that they really did well and they really competed and they should be proud of how well they played and the year they had … I'm certainly not articulate enough to have something to say that makes a difference."