- Associated Press - Saturday, June 7, 2014

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - Taylor Sparks had four hits and scored twice, and Adam Alcantara’s two-run single in the fourth inning gave UC Irvine a lead it would not relinquish in an 8-4 victory over Oklahoma State on Friday night in the NCAA super regionals.

After their upset win over national No. 1 seed Oregon State in last week’s Corvallis regional, UC Irvine (39-23) carried an 8-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning before Oklahoma State (48-17) made it a little closer.

UC Irvine, in its fourth trip to the super regionals in the last eight years, is one win away from its first College World Series appearance since 2007, with Game 2 of the best-of-three series Saturday.

“Taylor had a huge night and who’s kidding? We got some breaks. Breaks are good,” Anteaters coach Mike Gillespie said. “It’s a super regional. Any win is critical, so it was a great win for us. I think everybody understands that there’s lots of work still to be done.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in (the clubhouse) that’s stupid enough to think it’s over.”

Oklahoma State pulled within four in the eighth after Tanner Krietemeier’s three-run homer. The Cowboys continued to threaten, loading the bases again with one out, but Bryan Case grounded into a double play.

Oklahoma State is hosting its first super Regional after winning three regional games by a combined 27-11 margin.

“They won the middle innings,” Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday said. “We had some moments in time that we didn’t handle as well, and part of that is because of the way they played. We showed some good fight there late, got them back on their heels a bit, probably made them a little uncomfortable with the tying run at the plate.

“We can build on a lot of things, rely on the same things we have all year long.”

After Oklahoma State took a 1-0 lead on Krietemeier’s RBI groundout in the first inning, UC Irvine piled up five runs over two innings to take control.

After Alcantara’s two-run single gave the Anteaters a 2-1 lead in the fourth, the Anteaters tacked on three more runs in the fifth.

Following an RBI single by Connor Spencer, who was selected the Corvallis regional’s most outstanding player, back-to-back wild pitches by Oklahoma State starter Jon Perrin brought in two more runs to make it 5-1.

“Our whole team just thrives on energy,” said Sparks, who was selected by Cincinnati in the second round of the MLB draft Thursday. “It all starts with the leadoff guy and if he gets on, we keep the momentum, we start rolling, and who knows what could happen?”

UC Irvine got two more in the sixth, one on Chris Rabago’s suicide squeeze bunt with the bases loaded, and another when OSU relief pitcher Trey Cobb walked Jerry McClanahan with the bases loaded again.