Friday, June 24, 2011

game preview: South Carolina

Date/Time: Friday, June 24; 7:00


History against the Gamecocks: 27-36

Last matchup: USC 7, UVA 1; 6/21/11; Omaha, NE (College World Series)

Last game: UVA 8, Cal 1 (6/23); USC 7, UVA 1 (6/21)

Blogs of the enemy: Garnet and Black Attack, Leftover Hot Dog

South Carolina possible lineup:

C: Robert Beary (.290-3-35)
1B: Christian Walker (.358-10-62)
2B: Scott Wingo (.345-4-28)
3B: Adrian Morales (.288-3-40)
SS: Peter Mooney (.276-3-36)
LF: Jake Williams (.274-2-38)
CF: Jackie Bradley, Jr., (.264-6-27)
RF: Evan Marzilli (.297-3-31)
DH: Brady Thomas (.313-4-40)

Pitching probables:

LHP Danny Hultzen (12-3, 1.41, 157 K's) vs. LHP Michael Roth (13-3, 0.97, 103 K's)

South Carolina's bullpen:
RHP John Taylor (7-1, 1.17, 63 K's)
LHP Steven Neff (3-1, 2.45, 29 K's)
RHP Jose Mata (3-0, 1.76, 16 K's)
LHP Tyler Webb (3-1, 3.21, 28 K's)
RHP Matt Price (6-3, 2.12, 68 K's, 18 sv)

Last night's game was, well, it was kinda like Tuesday's game in reverse.  Like South Carolina on Tuesday, UVA did enough to win on their own but used mistakes by the opposition to make the score uglier.  No matter how "loose" Cal was as claimed by the ESPN commentators (all....week....long) they didn't play like it on the field.  The Golden Bears helped the Hoos' cause tremendously by throwing 55-foot curveballs, heaving force-out balls into right field, hitting three batters (ok, two different ones, with Chris Taylor being victimized twice), and misplaying a number of batted balls, the sun probably being a factor in this last set of mistakes.  UVA ruthlessly took advantage of Cal's miscues.  Some led directly to UVA runs (center fielder Matthews's three-base error on Kenny Swab's single that turned it into an unofficial inside-the-park home run; wild pitches) and others took runs off the board for Cal (leadoff hitter Anthony Booker sliding past second base after initially stealing successfully; the next batter doubled.)  A season to remember for Cal fans, but not that game.

Tyler Wilson pitched magnificently, of course.  He kept the Cal batters off balance for 7 2/3 innings, inducing a ton of harmless infield (and many foul) popups.  Cody Winiarski finished off the GBs with little trouble.  UVA will need that kind of performance again today from Danny Hultzen.

All UVA fans, regardless of interest in baseball, should really be tuning in tonight, for what will possibly (but hopefully not) be Danny Hultzen's last appearance in a Virginia uniform.  There shouldn't be any doubt Hultzen is the most dominant pitcher in UVA history; I don't think I'll get much argument when I say he's simply the best baseball player in UVA history too.  Truthfully, Hultzen has established himself as one of the best athletes in UVA history, period; right up there with Ralph Sampson and Ed Moses.

And this is a fitting stage for an athlete of his caliber.  Omaha, the College World Series, in an elimination game against the defending national champs and their ace pitcher, Michael Roth.  The odds are stacked against him.  Hultzen will need better run support from his teammates than they gave Will Roberts on Tuesday, but if there's any pitcher in the land that can win a 1-0 game, you know who it is.  If the Hoos lose this game, it by no means tarnishes Hultzen's legacy, but winning this one would be a hell of a way to shine it up a little.  But this is the guy you want on the mound.  Period.

There's a tough uphill road to climb, but step 1 of 3 is out of the way.  If the Hoos lose tonight, they'll still have achieved the best finish in school history.  If they win, then it's on to a winner-take-all on Saturday.  Cross your fingers.

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