The 2011 College World Series kicks off on Saturday and Sunday with "first round" matchups to set up the winners' and losers' brackets. The Cal Bears baseball team will face off against the Virginia Cavaliers, who are the number one overall seed in this tournament and boast the second overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft. They dominated their regional and then barely escaped a tough UC Irvine squad, winning on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth.
As the CWS gets ready to kick off, it would be useful to know a little bit more about some of the teams involved. Thanks to the growth of SB Nation, we now have a Virginia blog called Streaking The Lawn. Since I don't know a whole lot about Virginia baseball other than what the season stats can tell me, the folks at STL were kind enough to put together a brief rundown on the team.
Will Campbell, a member of the Virginia baseball team from 2007 to 2009, took a few minutes to break down the 2011 Wahoos. Campbell was on the 2009 team that went to the College World Series and follows college baseball closely for STL. He was interviewed the other day on "The Pulse On Campus" where he spoke about Virginia baseball heading into the College World Series. Check that out when you get a minute to hear some more of this thoughts. In the meantime, here's what Will had to say about Virginia baseball. Thanks for Will and Streaking The Lawn for the information.
On the mound, most will know that the 'Hoos are lead by their ace and #2 overall pick in this years draft, Danny Hultzen. He has been a stud all year for the Cavaliers and ended up winning his second straight ACC Pitcher of the Year honors. Hes got a great fastball and an even better changeup. The other two starters the Cavaliers have aren't slouches either. Tyler Wilson is a senior RHP who moved out of the pen to the rotation for his 4th year and hasn't looked back. The third starter is 3rd year RHP Will Roberts. Will was drafted in the 5th round this June by the Indians and is looking to end his career like Wilson and Hultzen on top. Roberts has had great numbers all year but his biggest claim to fame is the perfect game he threw this past March against George Washington University, the first in UVa history. One of the other big pieces to the pitching puzzle is 2nd year closer Branden Kline. While Kline has had a little trouble this past weekend he has been stellar the rest of the year competing for the most Saves in the country and setting the UVa single season record.
At the plate you won't find a really big weak link. Dave Coleman leads the team in average is a tough lefty out to get near the bottom of the order. Steven Proscia and John Hicks have anchored the middle of the lineup all season and have been the "power hitters" if such a thing exists for UVa. They have hit 15 of the teams 24 home runs. The biggest factor so far in UVa's run so far this postseason has been the hitting of Chris Taylor. Chris has been awesome at the plate always providing a spark and coming up big in huge spots. He was the batter against UC Irvine on Monday that got the game winning hit and will forever be remembered by UVa fans. The "weakest" hitter in the lineup would probably be the 9 hole, Keith Werman. He's had struggles with the new bats this year but if the Cavs need a bunt with a runner on he'll get it done 99% of the time and Charlottesville loves him more and more everyday.
In the field the 'Hoos have been remarkable. They have been in the top 10 all year in fielding percentage and right now have the #5 overall percentage at .980. Only Texas has a better fielding percentage among the 8 teams still playing. The Cavaliers don't make too many errors and aren't too happy when they do.