Virginia eyes back-to-back Omaha trips

It’s safe to say Virginia hasn’t deviated from its plan at the start of the season.

The Cavaliers entered the season a top-five club and have put together a campaign to date impressive enough to be the No. 1 team entering super regional action.

The Cavaliers had some tense moments against St. John’s in last week’s Charlottesville Regional. But that showdown is over, and it’s time to focus on Oklahoma.

The Sooners, meanwhile, played a fantastic brand of baseball at the Norman Regional last weekend and would love nothing more than to knock off the heavily favored Cavaliers on the road this weekend.

Oklahoma is a hard-nosed club that could give the Cavaliers some headaches. However, Virginia has a plethora of experience and a loose attitude so common with teams aiming for national titles.

The Charlottesville Super Regional will be competitive, but Virginia will meet expectations by returning to the College World Series.

The national title, though, is the ultimate goal with this team.

Charlottesville Super Regional: Who has the edge?

Both the Sooners and Cavaliers have done some nice things on the mound this spring, but Virginia gets the edge in this department.

The Cavaliers enter the series with a 3.76 ERA and have one of the nation’s best starting pitchers in left-hander Danny Hultzen. He is 10-1 with a 2.83 ERA in 98 2/3 innings. Hultzen has struck out 114 and walked 23, and teams are hitting just .192 off him.

The Cavaliers also are led by fellow starters Robert Morey and Cody Winiarski in addition to relievers Kevin Arico and Tyler Wilson.

Morey is 9-3 with a 3.72 ERA in 96 2/3 innings, and teams are hitting just .230 against him. Winiarski has a 4.65 ERA in 71 2/3 innings. Arico has recorded 17 saves in 27 appearances and has a 2.59 ERA in 31 1/3 innings, while Wilson has appeared in 30 games and has a 3.47 ERA in 59 2/3 innings.

For the Sooners, keep an eye on starting pitchers Bobby Shore, Zach Neal and Michael Rocha in addition to relievers Jeremy Erben, Ryan Duke and Anthony Collazo.

Shore is 9-4 with a 4.23 ERA in 84 innings. He has struck out 72 and walked 29, and teams are hitting just .261 against him. Neal has a 4.42 ERA in 95 2/3 innings, and Rocha has a 7-1 record and a 3.50 ERA in 61 2/3 innings.

Erben has appeared in 29 games and has a 3.90 ERA in 64 2/3 innings, and Duke has recorded 11 saves in 22 appearances and has a 3.51 ERA in 33 1/3 innings.

Oklahoma pitched very well in the Norman Regional last weekend. Will that trend continue this weekend against the Cavaliers?


It should come as no surprise that Virginia has had a productive offense the entire season. The Cavaliers, after all, returned a plethora of position starters from a team that finished last season with a solid batting average.

Oklahoma has a solid offense, but Virginia gets the edge in this category, too.

The Cavaliers enter the weekend with a .334 batting average with Keith Werman, Phil Gosselin, Tyler Cannon, Jarrett Parker and Steven Proscia leading the way.

Werman is hitting a team-best .430 with 23 RBIs and is 10-of-15 in stolen bases. Gosselin is hitting .378 with 22 doubles, four triples, nine homers and 57 RBIs. Cannon is hitting .341 with 19 doubles, three triples, three homers and 38 RBIs. Parker is hitting .338 with 16 doubles, eight triples, 10 homers and 55 RBIs, and Proscia is hitting .322 with 18 doubles, four triples, eight homers and 48 RBIs.

Also keep an eye on solid hitters such as John Barr, John Hicks and Dan Grovatt.

Oklahoma has its fair share of solid hitters, too.

The Sooners enter the series with a .314 batting average and are led at the plate by third baseman Garrett Buechele, who is hitting .387 with 15 doubles, two triples, 16 homers and 62 RBIs.

Also keep an eye on Danny Black, Chris Ellison, Caleb Bushyhead, Cameron Seitzer and Max White.

Black is hitting .339 with five homers and 37 RBIs. Ellison is hitting .329 with four homers and 30 RBIs. Bushyhead is hitting .329 with five homers and 35 RBIs, and Seitzer and White each enter the series with 14 homers.

There could be a lot of runs scored in this series.


This will be a fun series to watch if you’re a fan of good defense.

To say the least, both teams have played well in the field this season. Oklahoma enters the series with a solid .975 fielding percentage, while Virginia enters the weekend with a fantastic .978 fielding percentage.

Virginia has a slight edge in the fielding department.

The Cavaliers’ infield includes first baseman John Hicks, who has a .986 fielding percentage, second baseman Keith Werman, who has a .988 fielding percentage, shortstop Tyler Cannon, who has a .964 fielding percentage, third baseman Steven Proscia, who has a .907 fielding percentage, and catcher Franco Valdes, who has a .992 fielding percentage.

By comparison, Oklahoma first baseman Cameron Seitzer has a .983 fielding percentage, second baseman Danny Black has a .981 fielding percentage, shortstop Caleb Bushyhead has a .935 fielding percentage, third baseman Garrett Buechele has a .969 fielding percentage, and catcher Tyler Ogle has a .994 fielding percentage.

Also keep an eye on the Virginia outfield this weekend. The Cavaliers have a tendency to make fantastic plays in the outfield, especially veteran center fielder Jarrett Parker.

We look for solid defense from both clubs this weekend.


It wasn’t too long ago that Virginia was considered a program unable to take the next step on the national stage.

But the Cavaliers took a huge step forward last season with a CWS appearance and certainly haven’t looked back this season.

Virginia has a plethora of experience and now knows exactly what it takes to win at an elite level in college baseball.

That counts for a lot in a series such as this one.

In addition to the experience the Cavaliers bring, they also will enjoy a big-time home-field advantage this weekend. Not only is the ballpark very pitcher-friendly but also the Cavaliers have compiled an outstanding 33-5 record at home this spring.

All the intangibles point in Virginia’s direction.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Yahoo! Sports and Follow him on Twitter and follow Yahoo! Sports College Baseball on Facebook. Send Kendall a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Friday, Jun 11, 2010