June 12, 2010

Super Regional Scores, Schedules & Capsules

CBI Live: Virginia 3, Oklahoma 2


CBI Live
Pitch Counts, Other Nuggets from Charlottesville

By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – With Virginia leading Oklahoma 3-2 entering the ninth inning Saturday at Davenport Field, a big question added to the drama of a fantastic college baseball game.


Would Cavaliers starter Danny Hultzen (right) return to start the ninth inning?


Hultzen was at 130 pitches. Cavaliers closer Kevin Arico was ready to go. And set-up man Tyler Wilson also had gotten loose for a couple innings. The fact that left-handed Cameron Seitzer (0 for 3 with a strikeout) was leading off the inning made some wonder if the lefty Hultzen might be asked to get one more hitter. 


Cavaliers coach Brian O’Connor and pitching coach Karl Kuhn called on Arico, who earned his 18th save.


“There was no question,” O’Connor said of turning to Arico.


Calling it a “special circumstance,” O’Connor said he debated taking Hultzen out after the seventh, when he was at 113 pitches. Chris Ellison’s 10-pitch at-bat in the seventh probably fueled that debate. 


“If I recall this correctly…I think that’s the first pitcher we’ve had all year that’s thrown over 120 pitches,” O’Connor said.


He added that he’s been asked a lot why Hultzen, who hit .327 with three homers and 37 RBI in 2009, hasn’t hit more this year (he’s hitting .281 in 57 at-bats).


“That’s why,” O’Connor said. “You get to this time of year, he’s still fresh, he can still pitch deep into the game.”


Hultzen didn’t even realize the pitch count had gotten that high, saying he thought he was around 100.


“I don’t know if I’ve ever thrown 130 pitches,” Hultzen said.


* * *


It’s easy to be critical of ace pitchers.


After Drew Pomeranz beat St. John’s in Charlottesville last weekend with less than his best, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said, “It’s amazing how critical we are of him.”


Hultzen hasn’t been as sharp as Cavaliers fans have grown used to his past few starts – including allowing 11 earned runs in his past 12 innings. It probably didn’t help facing Miami twice in a week as Hultzen did to close the regular season and open the ACC tournament. And give some credit to Ole Miss, which traditionally falls out of bed swinging the sticks.


Against the Rebels, Hultzen was inconsistent with his location and said afterward he didn’t have command of his change. He looked noticeably uncomfortable in the stretch.


O’Connor said Hultzen did a lot of mechanical work with Kuhn, one of the top pitching coaches in the country. And he spent some time watching video of himself, including side-by-side images of when things were going great and not so great to “see if there’s something off a tick.”


“I think a big portion of Danny’s was a mental thing that he’s just trying to do too much,” O’Connor said. “I’ll tell you if I’m ever guilty of something, I wouldn’t mind being guilty of trying to do too much. You can’t fault a kid for that.”


Sooners coach Sunny Golloway reminded those being critical to remember a few things.


“Everybody was being critical, not really at a student athlete…but he just hadn’t been himself the last three times,” Golloway said. “But he’s won. He’s won every time out. So, let’s remember:  We’re dealing with some amateur student athletes who go to school and are getting a degree. And he’s winning. He’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. And he did it again today against us.”


* * *


Sooners third baseman Garrett Buechele, the son of former major leaguer Steve Buechele, came to Charlottesville red hot. He had hit in 29 of 31 games, going 55 for 121 (.455) over that span.


Hultzen neutralized Buechele by going right at him with 90-plus mph fastballs on the outer half early in the count and delivering high heat when he got two strikes. Buechele went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, a popup to second and solid shot to center in the eighth. Of the 14 pitches he saw from Virginia’s ace, 11 were strikes.


“I thought his elevation was the key to his success,” Golloway said of Hultzen.


* * *


Rocha, the Sooners’ starter, matched Hultzen pitch for pitch. He allowed two hits in the first two innings then threw three hitless innings before the sixth inning, when Dan Grovatt (left) hit a laser of a homer to right field.


Rocha was starting his sixth game and has made 13 other appearances in relief. He coupled his 91-mph fastball with an above-average slider that had the Cavaliers baffled in spots.


“He did a good job of keeping us right there and giving us a shot,” Golloway said.


As for choosing Rocha over ace Zach Neal (8-3, 4.42 ERA), Golloway said, “He is just a quality arm and he’s throwing the baseball really well right now. We just thought even though Zach is our ace, it was real important what Michael did down the stretch.


* * *


The Sooners will start Zach Neal today, and the Cavaliers likely will go with No. 2 Robert Morey. Oklahoma will be the home team, and Golloway suggested Cavaliers fans would see a different look – the Sooners’ white pinstripes with pants up and a lot of stirrup showing.


* * *


The start of the game was delayed for nearly two hours by a fast-moving thunderstorm that forced Virginia officials to clear fans from the stadium.


Both starting pitchers had just started to loosen up, and neither Hultzen nor Rocha said it was a factor.


Players said they relaxed in the clubhouse, talked baseball and remained focused on the game. Media members focused on the World Cup soccer match between England and the United States.


* * *


They said it:

·        Sooners coach Sunny Golloway: “Nobody lost today. Somebody won the ballgame. That’s very clear to everyone in the United States who watched the game on TV.”

·        Golloway: “It was a really good college baseball game. That’s what you hope for and expect this time of year…they got two balls out of the yard, that ended up being the difference.”

·        Sooners starter Michael Rocha: “You have to come out and give your best effort; you live for these close, one-run ballgames.”

·        Sooners leadoff man Chris Ellison on facing the lefty Danny Hultzen: “You can ask any of the lefties in our lineup, we don’t care who’s pitching, lefty or righty… today things just didn’t fall our way.”

·        Cavaliers coach Brian O’Connor on Dan Grovatt, who has slumped at times but hit the deciding homer in the sixth inning: “Dan Grovatt has hit in the middle of our lineup for this now his third season… this kid’s stayed very, very positive. When you’re positive and make it about his team like he said tonight, things have a way of working out.”

·        O’Connor on lefty-lefty or righty-righty matchups out of the bullpen late in the game: “Personally I think in college baseball, it’s overrated.”


(photos courtesy of UVs Media Relations Office)