Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Go Hoos II!

The Monk is a bit remiss (workload) and a bit late with this:


Virginia not only swept through the Irvine regional, as I discussed last Monday, it won its Super Regional and will now participate in the College World Series for the first time in school history!

Last weekend, Virginia had to travel to Oxford, Mississippi for a best of three series against the University of Mississippi. Ole Miss had received a #1 seed from the NCAA, which was appropriate (#9 or #11 ranking, top 16 RPI); Virginia had been screwed and given a #2 seed (#11 or #7 ranking, top 10 RPI). So Ole Miss hosted as the higher remaining seed.

Virginia bonked game 1, squandering a 3-2 lead entering the 9th with an error by the secondbaseman and a questionable pitching decision (not bringing in the team's lock-down quality closer to start the inning). Ole Miss won 4-3 on a leadoff homer in the bottom of the 12th.

In game 2, Ole Miss returned the favor, bonking a 3-2 lead entering the 8th with a terrible error by its secondbaseman (Chuck Knoblauch-ish throw) and the Cavs rallied for a 4-3 win.

In game 3, Ole Miss scored one in the first inning and nothing else. The Cavs' top-notch pitching carried the team; its hitters scraped together a three-run, error-aided rally in the fifth to take a 4-1 lead and Virginia coasted to the 5-1 win and a celebratory pile up in Oxford. Virginia is the only CWS team this year to lose its first game of the Super Regional.

On to Omaha, site of the College World Series and even tougher teams. The eight-team field is separated into two sub-brackets (basically teams seeded 1, 4, 5, 8 in one bracket; 2, 3, 6, 7 in the other). Virginia is essentially the #6 seed in the CWS, it faces national #3 seed LSU in its first game. The other teams in the sub-bracket are national #2 seed Cal-State Fullerton (the runner-up to UC-Irvine in the Big West Conference, but CSFU actually had a better resume because it fared better against non-Big West teams) and upstart Arkansas, which dropped Florida State in the Super Regionals.

This is the bracket of death: LSU is excellent again and is coached by Virginia coach Brian O'Connor's mentor, CSFU is a powerhouse, and Arkansas has feasted on good teams (5-0 against Florida, swept FSU, drubbed Oklahoma twice in Norman). Unlike Irvine or Ole Miss, Virginia's next opponents can BASH, which will be a big test for the Cavs' pitchers (who held UNC to 13 runs total in their four games this year -- a great total in high-scoring college baseball). Sub-bracket winner plays the survivor of Texas, North Carolina, Arizona State and darkest of dark horses Southern Miss (a #3 seed in its regional).

So this will be interesting. The semi-unknown Cavs on the biggest stage in College Baseball against two perennial powers (LSU has five titles, CSFU has four) and the "other" team from the nation's strongest conference, the SEC.

Go 'Hoos!

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