June 5, 2011
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Proscia Packs Punch for Cavs
Cavaliers Roll to Regional
By Sean Ryan
Va. – After Virginia concluded its
season last year with a Super Regional loss to Oklahoma, coach
Brian O’Connor met with reliever Tyler Wilson (right).
Wilson, a junior from Richmond who was taken in
the 35th round of the Major League Draft, had won 17 games and
appeared in 72 games, all but two in relief. O’Connor asked
Wilson what he wanted to do – continue to relieve or be
developed as a starter.
“I told him I would give him an opportunity to be
a starter,” O’Connor said.
Wilson has rewarded O’Connor and the Cavaliers
time and time again this season. Sunday night, the senior
improved to 8-0 with 6.1 strong innings as No. 1 Virginia
advanced to its third straight Super Regional by eliminating
East Carolina 13-1 before another sellout crowd of 5,050 at
Davenport Field. The Cavaliers (52-9) will host UC Irvine in
their pursuit of Omaha for the second time in three years.
“I can’t tell you that when we made the decision
that we thought he’d be 8-0,” said O’Connor, who has guided to
the Cavaliers to 152 wins the past three seasons and averaged 46
wins a year in his eight years in Charlottesville.
Wilson has been the perfect complement to ace
Danny Hultzen. And he’s been the perfect fit to fill out a
rotation that includes Will Roberts and Cody Winiarski.
Opponents have hit .197 off him, a year after hitting .198, and
he has 111 strikeouts against 21 walks in 88.1 innings.
“The main difference is you know what day you’re
going to get the ball,” Wilson said, adding that in-between game
routines also have changed. “When it all boils down to it, it
doesn’t matter if you’re a starter or reliever.”
For Virginia’s victims this weekend – Navy, St.
John’s and East Carolina – it really didn’t matter. The result
was the same. The Cavaliers pitchers dominated the weekend,
allowing three runs on .191 hitting with 42 strikeouts and four
walks in 27 innings. For his part, Wilson allowed seven hits and
one earned run in 6.1 innings, striking out seven and walking
Offensively, Virginia scored 29 runs over the
weekend – 25 of them coming when two outs were on the board.
Against the Pirates (41-21), leadoff man Chris Taylor (3 for 6,
2 R, 4 RBI) and John Barr (2 for 5, 2 R) each had two-run
singles in a five-run second inning. In all, six players had two
or more hits, John Hicks and Steven Proscia added two RBI apiece
and Keith Werman scored three runs.
If it wasn’t over after the second, it surely was
when Hicks hit a two-run double to right center – the Pirates
appeared to assume Barr would stop at third and didn’t look for
a play at the plate – and Proscia and Hultzen followed with RBI
singles in a four-run fourth. Hultzen, who is expected to hear
his name called within the first three or four picks tonight in
the MLB Draft, went 7 for 11 in the Regional and was named the
Most Outstanding Player.
“I can assure you coming into this weekend there
was no way I thought or the players thought this was going to be
easy,” O’Connor said. “It’s a lot more difficult than maybe what
the scoreboard indicated after these three games were over.
There’s a lot that goes into this. We earned it this weekend. We
played as good of baseball as you can play against three really
East Carolina coach Billy Godwin praised
Virginia’s lineup and its pitchers. He said it’s not easy to do
what Virginia has done the past few years and remarked how
special it is what the Cavaliers have been able to accomplish.
He then suggested the Cavaliers could have beaten
the 1927 New York Yankees on Sunday night.
“They’re the real deal,” Godwin said.
Reporters asked Danny
Hultzen about his faded, beat-up hat and asked him why he wore
the same hat since his freshmen year. “I like it,” he said with
a smile. A couple of reporters then looked at Tyler Wilson’s
faded, beat-up New Era cap, and the senior said he’s been
wearing the cap since his freshmen year.
Virginia’s Cody Winiarski,
the team’s fourth starter, threw the ninth inning and struck out
the side, showing a 92-mph fastball.
There may not be a more
beloved player in college baseball than Keith Werman is at
Virginia. The 5-7, 150-pound junior got a huge cheer for getting
drilled for the second time in the game. Although he’s hitting
about 200 points lower than last year’s .414 campaign, he
remains a tough out because of his size and the fact that he
stands on top of the plate. He went 1 for 1 with three runs.
A name to remember… East
Carolina freshman Chase McDonald. McDonald went 2 for 4 and hit
the ball hard all weekend. He’s one of three freshmen in the
ECU’s Drew Reynolds, a lefty
hitter, sprayed two line drives into the Pirates’ dugout on
back-to-back pitches late in the game. ECU players proceeded to
hide behind chairs, put on catcher’s masks and about a half
dozen huddled toward the entrance to the locker room to avoid
being hit by Reynolds. He walked on the next pitch.
A big reason for Virginia’s
success is that Brian O’Connor has been able to keep his staff
intact. Kevin McMullan and pitching coach Karl Kuhn are regarded
as two of the top assistants in the country. O’Connor heaped
praise on Kuhn: “I happen to believe that we have the best
pitching coach in the country. The results speak for
O’Connor on the Cavaliers’
success with two outs: “I think this time of year, two-out
hitting makes a difference if you’re a championship club or
courtesy of Virginia Media Relations Office)