IRVINE, Calif. Virginia’s pitching staff outdueled San Diego State phenom Stephen Strasburg as the seventh-ranked Cavaliers notched a 5-1 victory Friday afternoon in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Irvine Regional at Anteater Ballpark in Irvine, Calif. The Cavaliers recorded two early runs, then rode their pitching before tacking on three runs in the eighth inning against the Aztecs’ bullpen to seal the win and hand Strasburg his first loss of 2009.
Virginia, the regional’s No. 2 seed, now will face the winner of the No. 1 UC Irvine-No. 4 Fresno State game at 11 p.m. ET Saturday. ESPNU and Comcast SportsNet each will have live coverage of the game. No. 3 SDSU will play at 7 p.m. ET against the loser of the UCI-Fresno State contest in an elimination game.
Virginia pitcher Robert Morey (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) had one of the best starts of his career, going six shutout innings and allowing just five hits and three walks while striking out nine. He improved to 3-0 with the victory. Tyler Wilson (So., Midlothian, Va.), Matt Packer (Jr., Germantown, Tenn.) and Kevin Arico (So., Flemington, N.J.) allowed just one hit and one walk over the final three frames. As a staff, Virginia struck out 13 batters.
Strasburg (13-1) pitched seven innings, allowing two earned runs and eight hits. He struck out 15 and did not walk a batter. Reliever Andrew Leary gave up three earned runs and four hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Phil Gosselin (So., West Chester, Pa.) and Steven Proscia (Fr., Suffern, N.Y.) each homered for Virginia. The Cavaliers finished with 13 hits, led by Proscia with three. Jarrett Parker (So., Stafford, Va.), Danny Hultzen (Fr., Bethesda, Md.) and Keith Werman (Fr., Vienna, Va.) each had a pair of hits in their first NCAA tournament action.
Virginia (44-12-1) started well in the first inning as Gosselin crushed the first pitch he saw from Strasburg off the top of the scoreboard in left-center field for a solo home run. The long ball was Gosselin’s sixth of the season.
The Cavaliers tacked on a run in their next at bat. Proscia led off the inning with a single and one out later advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches by Strasburg. With two out, Parker chopped a ball just past an out-stretched Strasburg and just beat the throw for a single, scoring Proscia to give UVa a 2-0 lead.
San Diego State (40-22) finally broke through in the eighth inning. With one out, Wilson walked Cory Vaughn. Mitch Blackburn then doubled down the left-field line to put runners at second and third. Chris Wilson then lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to score Vaughn and cut the lead to 2-1. Packer came on to face Easton Gust, who flew out to center field on Packer’s first offering to end the inning.
Virginia wasted no time in putting runs back on the board. Facing Leary in the bottom of the eighth, the Cavaliers got a one-out single from John Hicks (Fr., Sandy Hook, Va.), who then stole second base. Proscia then launched a two-run home run to left field his ninth homer of the year. The Cavaliers got consecutive singles from Franco Valdes (Jr., Miami, Fla.), Werman and Parker to bring home another run.
Arico then sealed the game by pitching a perfect ninth inning.