In an NCAA tournament that has already seen five of the eight top-seeded teams eliminated, Texas and Cal State Long Beach have advanced according to plan in the Central Regional.
Long Beach (36-19-1) remained unbeaten in the tournament and moved into a winner's bracket showdown against top-seeded Texas by defeating Creighton, 5-2, Saturday night before 3,200 at Disch-Falk Field.
Texas, which eliminated Texas Arlington, 17-1, on Saturday, will play second-seeded Long Beach today at 12:30. Creighton (41-18-1) will play Virginia Commonwealth, which eliminated Southwestern Louisiana, 12-5. The loser of the game between Long Beach and Texas plays the winner of the game between Virginia Commonwealth and Creighton in an elimination game tonight at 8.
Texas is excited at the prospect of playing Long Beach. The Longhorns have not forgotten losing, 17-10, to the 49ers here in last year's regional. Long Beach went on to the World Series, denying Texas its 26th trip to Omaha.
"We're the guys who left them at home last year, so they have plenty of motivation," Long Beach Coach Dave Snow said. "I think our kids know they have to play an even better ballgame than they did tonight."
Long Beach's victory over Creighton was a payback of sorts for the 49ers. Creighton eliminated Long Beach from the World Series last season.
Right-hander Eric Maloney, who beat the 49ers in that World Series, started Saturday night but gave up three runs in four innings. The 49ers had 10 hits against five Creighton pitchers.
Long Beach scored twice in the first inning, once in the third and took advantage of three errors to score its final two runs in the fifth.
Outfielder Ed Christian extended his hitting streak to 23 games with a double and three singles. He also drove in two runs, scored twice and stole two bases.
Junior right-hander Mike McLain (8-4) gave up two runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings to earn the victory. John Graves finished for his 14th save.