Lincoln Sean Madigan drove in a career-high five RBIs and three UC Irvine pitchers combined on a seven-hit shutout, as the Anteaters captured the NCAA Lincoln Regional championship with an 8-0 victory on Sunday at Hawks Field.
UC Irvine (41-16) has now won six consecutive NCAA Regional games, while the Anteaters are headed to Baton Rouge, La., for their second straight appearance in an NCAA Super Regional. Last season, Irvine advanced to it’s first-ever College World Series. Oral Roberts finished its season with a 48-14 record and an NCAA Regional runner-up finish for the fourth time in the past five seasons.
After shutting out Nebraska 8-0 in Sunday’s earlier game to advance to the championship game, Oral Roberts was on the other side of a shutout in the title game. The Golden Eagles, who had scored 23 runs in their first three games of the tournament, were blanked for the first time in 90 games while striking out a season-high 14 times.
NCAA Lincoln Regional Most Outstanding Player Bryce Stowell (8-2) earned the victory, striking out a career-high 13 hitters while surrendering just five hits over the first 7.2 innings. Carlos Luna (13-1) suffered the first and only loss of his Division I career, allowing a season-high six runs (five earned) in 6.1 innings. Entering the game, Luna, a senior, was 16-0 in his career with the Golden Eagles.
UC Irvine struck quickly in the top of the first, but the Anteaters were held to just one run after loading the bases with no outs. The lone run came courtesy of Casey Stevenson, who scored Ollie Linton with a sacrifice fly.
The Anteaters added a second run in the top of the third with a two-out rally. Stevenson doubled with two down before Sean Madigan brought him home with an RBI single.
Stevenson struck again in the seventh. A single, a double and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out for Stevenson, who delivered another RBI single to push the lead to 3-0. Madigan then added a two-run single to make the score 5-0. A throwing error on a pickoff attempt led to another run and capped the four-run inning.
UC Irvine continued to add to its total in the ninth, when Madigan ripped his second-two run single of the game to put the Anteaters in front 8-0.
Madigan finished the game 3-for-5 with a career-high five RBIs. He was part of a formidable middle of the order for UC Irvine, as the Anteaters’ Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters combined to go 8-for-12 with seven RBI and five runs scored in the championship game. Jeff Cusick was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two walks in the No. 3 spot, while Stevenson capped a tremendous performance in the NCAA Lincoln Regional with a 3-for-4 day that included two RBIs and three runs out of the cleanup spot.
Stevenson finished 7-for-9 with three RBIs and four runs scored in the regional, but was not among the group of five Anteaters named to the NCAA Lincoln Regional all-tournament team. In addition to Stowell, the Most Outstanding Player, Irvine placed Madigan, shortstop Ben Orloff, outfielder Ollie Linton and pitcher Daniel Bibona on the all-tournament squad.
NCAA Lincoln Regional All-Tournament Team
C Ben Petralli, Oral Roberts
1B Michael Notaro, Oral Roberts
2B Jake Opitz, Nebraska
3B David Genao, Oral Roberts
SS Ben Orloff, UC Irvine
OF Brett Nommensen, Eastern Illinois
OF Ollie Linton, UC Irvine
OF Sean Madigan, UC Irvine
UT Kelly Minissale, Oral Roberts
P Bryce Stowell, UC Irvine
P Daniel Bibona, UC Irvine
Most Outstanding Player: Bryce Stowell, UC Irvine