Saturday, June 02, 2007

UNO shocks Wichita State

WICHITA, KAN. -- Talk about your shockers.

UNO pulled off its biggest in a long time Friday, rallying for three runs in the top of the ninth to knock off top-seed Wichita State, 7-6, in the Wichita Regional before 7,084 fans in Eck Stadium.

"It would have been very easy for us to roll over," said senior centerfielder Brandon Bowser, whose one-out single in the ninth brought in the winning runs. "Nobody expected us to win this game. We weren't even supposed to be here. But you can't tell a single guy on this team that."
The Privateers are assured of being here at least until Sunday. UNO (38-24) will face Arizona, a 4-3 winner against Oral Roberts in Friday's first game, at 7 tonight. The winner is assured of playing Sunday night for a trip to the super regional.
Wichita State (49-16) plays Oral Roberts in the 1 p.m. elimination game. The winner of that game will meet the UNO-Arizona loser on Sunday afternoon.

And not long after Friday's celebration, the Privateers already were thinking about the Wildcats.
"This is a good win, but we have to turn our focus to the next one," Bowser said. "We have Arizona tomorrow, and that's what's on our minds now.

"Anything's possible."
It didn't seem possible that UNO would be in this position going into Friday.
The Privateers, who were in the NCAA Tournament only because they won last week's Sun Belt Conference Tournament, were playing the nation's No. 15 team before a packed house in its home stadium. And even after they jumped to an early 4-0 lead, Wichita State came back, tying the score in the sixth and taking a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh.

Going into the ninth, UNO had had three hits since the third, with one runner getting as far as second. When Josh Tarnow struck out to begin the ninth, and Nick Schwaner swung and missed at strike three, the end seemed near. But the third strike on Schwaner was a wild pitch, and he reached first base.
Drew Anderson followed with a single, as did freshman pinch hitter Ryan Eden, bringing in Schwaner.

That brought up Bowser, who was 0-for-4 for the game.

"The coaches always tell me to be patient when you come up in a big spot," he said. "I guess I was due."
Anderson and Eden pulled off a double steal to put runners on second and third.
Bowser then lined a 1-1 pitch up the middle from Noah Booth, the last of five Shockers pitchers, giving the Privateers the lead.

"Everything fell right for us," UNO Coach Tom Walter said. "These guys are not afraid of winning."
There still was work to be done, and the Shockers threatened when leadoff man Damon Sublett singled off closer Adam Campbell. But Privateers catcher Josh Tarnow threw out pinch runner Ryan Jones on a botched hit-and-run, and Campbell struck out Matt Brown before getting Connor Gillaspie on a fly to Bowser to end it.

"That's my job," Campbell said. "There's a lot of pressure because this is a regional, but I wasn't nervous so much as I was excited. Josh's throw was absolutely beautiful and after that, all I had to do was focus on the hitters."

UNO built its early lead by playing smart at the plate and on the base paths.

Johnny Giavotella started things in the second by drawing a walk, and Greg Wolfe and Tarnow followed with singles, the latter bringing in Giavotella. Schwaner grounded out to bring in Wolfe, and Tarnow advanced to third on a fly to center by Drew Anderson.

Ware walked to keep the inning going, which signaled the end for Wichita State starter Travis Banwart. It was the shortest outing of the season for Banwart, who is a member of the All-Missouri Valley Conference first team. The Privateers got to reliever Anthony Capra by adding a third run via a double steal. Tarnow scored when the throw to second went wide.

In the third, the Privateers added to their lead when Giavotella's bloop to center scored T.J. Baxter.
The Shockers got to starter Bryan Cryer for two runs in the bottom of the third, and scored another in the fourth, and tied the score in the sixth.

But the Privateers fought back against Noah Krol, who has 11 saves this season, in the ninth.

"No words can describe what these kids accomplished tonight," Walter said. "They were playing one of the best teams in the country in one of the toughest venues in the country in the NCAA Tournament with one of the best closers in the country on the mound. But you put these guys in a position to win, they'll do it. They didn't come here just to play two and go home."