June 19, 2011
OMAHA, Neb. - The California Golden Bears (37-22) battled the No. 1-seeded team of the College World Series close for six scoreless innings before falling to Virginia, 4-1, Sunday (June 19) at brand new TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. The Golden Bears, who scored a run in the top of the ninth inning on junior right fielder Chad Bunting's RBI single, will now play Texas A&M (who fell, 5-4, to South Carolina) in their next game on Tuesday, June 21 at 1 p.m. CT (11 a.m, PT, shown on ESPNHD).
Cal and the Cavaliers (55-10) had held each other scoreless through the first six innings, the first time since May 31, 1987 (Florida State 3, Arizona State 0) that a College World Series game had been scoreless through the first six frames. Virginia finally got on the scoreboard with two runs in the seventh inning off of Bear junior right-hander Logan Scott (1-2, 3.0 innings, three hits, two runs, one walk, one strikeout) and junior closer Matt Flemer. Keith Werman led-off the seventh with a single, advanced to second base on Chris Taylor's walk, and scored on John Hicks hard hit single through the left side of the infield off Flemer. Taylor later scored on Steven Proscia's sacrifice fly to right field.
The Cavaliers tacked on two more runs in the eighth inning off of Cal senior right-hander Kevin Miller. Kenny Swab started the inning with a single to right field, and after being sacrificed to second base, scored on Jared King's RBI triple to right field that just cleared a diving Bunting's glove. Virginia's final run came on Werman's single to left that scored King.
The Bears mustered a run in the top of the ninth inning when junior shortstop Marcus Semien singled up the middle off of winning pitcher Tyler Wilson (9-0, 2.1 innings, three hits, one run, two strikeouts). Then after two outs, Bunting single to left center fielder to give Cal its first World Series run, before Virginia closer Branden Kline got the final out to earn his 18th save of the year.
Cal had to face one of the nation's top left-handers in Danny Hultzen, who went 6.1 innings with three hits, no runs, three walks and six strikeouts. Hultzen was recently selected by the Seattle Mariners as the No. 2 overall draft pick of the June 6-7 Major League Amateur Draft.
The Bears had countered with junior right-hander Erik Johnson, drafted in the second round by the Chicago White Sox, who went 3.0 innings with two hits, no runs, five walks and two strikeouts. Scott had done a fine job in relief of Johnson, getting out of runners in scoring position jams in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before yielding a single and a walk to begin the seventh inning.
"Danny Hultzen was as good as advertised, a second pick in the draft," said Cal coach David Esquer. "He was tough. A little bend but no break. And, I gotta give him a lot of credit. He was tough on our guys and got the big out when he had to. It was a great ballgame into the seventh inning, and you knew it was going to come down to who was going to come up with the big hit. That's kind of like the way the games have been going all year long."
Besides Bunting's RBI single, sophomore third baseman Mitch Delfino had singles in the second and seventh innings. Junior catcher Chadd Krist had a double in the sixth inning off of Hultzen - his Pac-10 leading 26th double of the season that put him past former Major League star Jeff Kent for second on the Cal all-time single-season doubles list. Krist also threw a Cavalier runner out attempting to steal second base in the eighth inning. Senior left fielder Austin Booker made a diving catch in left field to save some runs in the fifth inning.
The Bears are competing in their first College World Series since 1992 after capturing the NCAA Houston Regional and the Santa Clara Super Regional. Esquer has now led Cal to postseason three of the last four seasons. The Bears played in front of the largest crowd - 21,275 - in school history at TD Ameritrade Park, the new home of the College World Series that replaced Rosenblatt Stadium.