Virginia Baseball Opens College World Series Sunday vs. California
OMAHA, Neb. – The Virginia baseball team begins play in the 2011 College World Series on Sunday when it battles California at the new TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. Game time is 2 p.m. ET. The CWS starts Saturday and will continue through June 28 or 29.
ESPN and ESPN3.com will have the live broadcast Sunday afternoon with Mike Patrick, Robin Ventura and Jenn Brown on the call. WINA 1070-AM will have the local radio call, and the game also can be heard online at VirginiaSports.com (subscription service). Sirius/XM Radio will carry the national satellite radio broadcast on Channel 91.
Virginia also will play Tuesday against reigning national champion South Carolina or Texas A&M. The losers’ bracket game is at 2 p.m. ET and the winners’ bracket contest is at 7 p.m. ET. Both will be televised by ESPN and ESPN3.com.
The College World Series features eight teams divided into two brackets. Bracket 2 is made up of No. 1 national seed Virginia, No. 4 South Carolina, Texas A&M and California. Bracket 1 consists of No. 2 Florida, No. 3 North Carolina, No. 6 Vanderbilt and No. 7 Texas.
Each bracket will feature its own double-elimination tournament. The champions of each bracket then will square off in a best-of-three championship series from June 27-29 to determine the 2011 national champion.
Virginia (54-10) will be playing in its second College World Series, with the other trip coming in 2009. UVa went 1-2 in the 2009 CWS, losing its opener to No. 1 seed LSU (9-5), defeating No. 2 seed Cal State Fullerton (7-5) and falling to Arkansas in 12 innings (4-3). Ten members of the current team also saw playing time in the 2009 CWS.
Virginia has played some of its best baseball of the season during its postseason run. The Cavaliers swept through four games to win the ACC Baseball Championship, including a win over fellow CWS competitor North Carolina. UVa then cruised through the NCAA Charlottesville Regional with wins over Navy (6-0), St. John’s (10-2) and East Carolina (13-1). Virginia then won its NCAA Super Regional opener over UC Irvine, 6-0, before suffering its first postseason defeat, 6-4, to the Anteaters.
In the super regional finale, Virginia trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and a 1-2 count against David Coleman (Sr., Richmond, Va.) before a stirring rally. Coleman and Jared King (Jr., Radford, Va.) hit consecutive singles before pinch hitter Reed Gragnani (So., Richmond, Va.) drew a walk. Chris Taylor (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) ripped an 0-1 fastball back up the middle to score two runs and set off a wild celebration at Davenport Field as the Cavaliers claimed a 3-2 win and a trip to the CWS.
The two-out hitting which keyed the frenetic rally against UC Irvine has been a trademark of this Virginia team during the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Thirty-three of Virginia’s 42 runs in the tournament have been recorded after two were out (78 percent). UVa scored 25 of its 29 runs in the regional with two outs and eight of 13 in the super regional with two outs. The Cavaliers have hit .447 with two outs in the tournament.
Taylor has been Virginia’s hottest hitter during the tournament. He is batting .462 (12-for-26) with six RBI in the NCAA tournament and takes a career-best 11-game hit streak into the College World Series. Taylor was 6-for-12 in the super regional with two hits and a stolen base in each of the three games.
The Cavaliers’ pitching staff leads the nation with a 2.26 earned run average and 9.83 strikeouts per nine innings heading into CWS play. Virginia’s pitching rotation of Danny Hultzen (Jr., Bethesda, Md.), Tyler Wilson (Sr., Midlothian, Va.) and Will Roberts (Jr., Richmond, Va.) has been outstanding all year, and particularly in the NCAA tournament. The three have combined for a 4-0 record and 0.87 ERA in 41 innings of work during NCAA play. They have struck out 43 while walking just seven. All three boast ERAs under 1.50 in the tournament – Roberts (0.55), Hultzen (0.73) and Wilson (1.46).
Hultzen will earn the starting nod on the mound Sunday. He will be opposed by Cal RHP Erik Johnson (7-4, 2.91 ERA).
Virginia will be playing its first game ever against California on Sunday. UVa is 27-35 all-time against South Carolina, a former ACC rival until the early 1970s. The Cavaliers have never faced Texas A&M.
On the other side of the bracket, UVa is 93-170-4 all-time vs. ACC rival North Carolina, including 1-3 this year. UVa is 0-2 vs. Vanderbilt and 1-4 all-time against Florida. Virginia and Texas have not played previously.