'Eaters seek Omaha bid

College Baseball

UCI visits highly touted Virginia for best-of-three Super Regional set to begin Saturday at 10 a.m.

June 11, 2011|By Barry Faulkner,

The University of Virginia logo features two crossed swords. But a look at the Cavaliers' vaunted baseball team indicates that UC Irvine, which visits Virginia for a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional beginning Saturday at 10 a.m., will be facing a team that has more than a two-pronged attack.

The Cavaliers (52-9), the No. 1 national seed in the 64-team NCAA Tournament who have both the most wins and fewest losses of any team in the field, are as impressive as any squad in recent memory.

Their three most prominent starting pitchers, led by two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year and All-American left-hander Danny Hultzen, who was picked second overall in the major league draft Monday by the Seattle Mariners, are a combined 30-4 with a 1.82 earned-run average and 349 strikeouts in 2862/3 innings.


Offensively, juniors Steven Proscia (.341 with eight home runs and 58 runs batted in) and John Hicks (.339 with seven homers and 54 RBIs), both first-team All-ACC honorees and drafted in the seventh and fourth round, respectively, by Seattle, lead the way.

And if pitching and offense aren't enough, ACC Coach of the Year Brian O'Connor's squad has a team fielding percentage of .980.

"Clearly, they are a heavyweight," said UCI Coach Mike Gillespie, whose then-No. 1-ranked Anteaters lost twice and were eliminated by Virginia in the Irvine Regional in 2009. "We learned that the hard way. There's no sugar-coating it, they are good and its going to require us to be as good as we can possibly be."

The Anteaters (42-16) played well enough to defeat three conference champions to win the Los Angeles Regional, completed Sunday at UCLA. They, too, boast offense, pitching and defense that has, at varying times, been dazzling.

UCI is batting .299 with a 2.90 team ERA and a fielding percentage of .979.

But UCI, ranked as high as No. 12 in the final national polls (Collegiate Baseball), managed two one-run victories, as well as a 12-6 verdict in the regional, to earn the program's third super regional berth in the last five seasons.

Virginia, batting .307 as a team with a 2.27 cumulative ERA, swept through its own regional, outscoring its three victims, 29-3, and averaging 14 strikeouts per contest.

UVA also swept four ACC Tournament games and is on a seven-game winning streak. It has also posted winning streaks of 13 and 12 games and other than being swept in a three-game series at ACC rival North Carolina (May 19-21), has not lost more than one consecutive game.

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