June 4, 2010
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Hicks, Cavaliers Dance
By Sean Ryan
Va. – Ever since he was a little kid,
John Hicks (right) has been known by friends and family as Jazz.
“It was a nickname from my dad,” said Hicks,
Virginia’s sophomore Mr. Utility. “When I was little, I used to
dance all the time. So whenever music came on, I would dance.”
Hicks, who admitted that Miles Davis rings a bell
but that he doesn’t know much jazz, danced around the bases to
the tune of a 4-for-5 day with double, homer and four RBI Friday
afternoon as the top-ranked Cavaliers strutted past Virginia
Commonwealth University 15-4.
Hicks was part of a three-run third, hitting a
long fly ball to the track in right that was misplayed by John
Lenherr. Tyler Cannon (3 for 4, 2 R, 3 RBI) followed with a
double and scored on Franco Valdes’ single. Valdes later scored
on a double by Phil Gosselin (2 for 4).
In the fourth, Hicks singled to start a four-run
frame, with two runs scoring on singles by Cannon and John Barr
and two more coming on a Dan Grovatt (3 RBI) double. In his
final three at-bats, Hicks hit a laser just over the wall in
left – which followed a Jarrett Parker towering homer to right –
doubled in two and singled in one.
“He seems to get big hits in big games,” said VCU
coach Paul Keyes, who saw Hicks plenty at Goochland High School
just outside of Richmond. “He’s a great athlete. I’ll take him
tomorrow if he wants to play for us.”
The Cavaliers (48-11) aren’t likely to let that
happen even though they pack plenty of other power throughout
the lineup. Every Virginia starter had at least one hit, and
five players scored two or more runs.
Virginia needed the run support in the middle
innings as the Rams (34-25-1) got to starter Cody Winiarksi in
the fourth and fifth innings.
VCU loaded the bases in the fourth on two walks
and a bunt single. Paul Nice, a sophomore who didn’t land with
the Rams until late in the summer before his freshman year, hit
a long shot to the gap that was hauled in by Gosselin in left to
cut the lead to 3-1. But Winiarski got Taylor Perkins to bounce
to Cannon at short, who fed a lightning-quick Keith Werman
second for a double play to save a run.
After the Rams scored four to make it 7-1, Joe
Van Meter, who ranks in the top 15 in the country in hitting and
went 2 for 5, singled in a pair to make it 7-3. Virginia turned
to top set-up man Tyler Wilson, but Hicks made an error on an
end-of-the-bat squibber for another run. Wilson struck out
Lenherr before the Cavaliers defense stepped up big again.
Proscia made a slick backhand stab at third that started a 5-4-3
double play, with Werman again executing a perfect turn at
“Our defense was spectacular today,” Cavaliers
coach Brian O’Connor said. “That’s the kind of defense you need
to play to win this time of year.”
Added Keyes: “I don’t think anyone in the county
turns those two double plays as quick as he does.”
With the Rams scrapping at 7-4, Parker greeted
reliever Kyle Pelchy with a homer that likely pushed 450 feet to
straight right. Hicks made it back-to-back jacks and the
Cavaliers’ answer staggered VCU.
(left) struck out the side in the sixth,
and Hicks added his two-run single to knock the Rams out. For
added insult Hicks made a nifty pick on a hard shot down the
line, tagged first and threw to Cannon covering second for slick
3-6 (tag) double play.
About the only thing that didn’t go according to
plan for Virginia was the fact that Wilson threw three innings
after Winiarski couldn’t get out of the fifth.
“I would have liked to see Cody Winiarski go
deeper in the ballgame,” said O’Connor, adding that he felt it
was a crucial part of the game when he summoned Wilson, who
threw 37 pitches. “Honestly, I was hoping that we didn’t have to
pitch Tyler Wilson for three innings. But we did. Fortunately he
was able to conserve his pitches.”
The Cavaliers took their first step toward
returning to Omaha. And it surely helped to do it at home, where
they’ve lost their past two Regionals.
“When you’re playing at home, and everyone says
you’re supposed to win…it is nice to get the first one out of
the way,” O’Connor said.
(photos courtesy of UVs Media