2011 College World Series: Danny Hultzen and Highlights of the CWS
The Virginia Cavaliers were eliminated from the College World Series Friday night in heartbreaking fashion, dropping a 3-2 decision to the South Carolina Gamecocks.
That loss doesn't diminish what was a great season for Virginia.
One player who certainly left everything he had on the field was their ace, Danny Hultzen. He answered the bell for them time and time again. He did everything he could and more to keep his team playing deep into the College World Series.
There was some worry that with the move to TD Ameritrade Park from Rosenblatt Stadium, much of the magic surrounding the event would be gone, but those fears have been assuaged.
This year's tournament has had a lion's share of highlights just like any other and with the championship series still to come, there promises to be more.
Danny Hultzen's Gutsy Performance
In Virginia's opening game in Omaha, Hultzen got them off to a great start. He threw 6.1 innings, giving up three hits and no runs while striking out six. Virginia won that game 4-1.
It was his next performance that showed his grit and determination and also gave Cavalier fans a reason to ask "What if?"
In that second start against defending champion South Carolina, Hultzen struck out eight of the nine batters he retired. He gave up only one baserunner in those three innings.
He was clearly on his game, but could not go any longer because his strength had been sapped by an illness. Coach Brian O'Connor said he didn't want to put Hultzen in any personal danger by pushing him to go any further.
South Carolina went on to win the game 3-2 in 13 innings.
Cal Defeats Texas A&M 7-3
The Cal Golden Bears were the official adopted team of impartial fans in Omaha. People enjoyed and clung to their story of nearly being extinct as a program.
Many expected the team to go 0-2 here in Omaha. They were out-classed in terms of talent and I think everyone figured they would just be happy to be there considering where they had come from as a team.
They showed they were there for more than that as they sent the Aggies packing with a 7-3 win.
Freshman Kyle Porter gave them six strong innings and close Kyle Flemer pitched the last three innings to close out the win.
Kent Emanuel's Complete Game Shutout of Texas
It was a situation tailor-made for failure. Kent Emanuel is a true freshman, pitching for the first time in Omaha.
In the opposing dugout are the Texas Longhorns, a team with several players who had been to, and had success in, Omaha.
All Emanuel went out and did next was toss a complete game shutout against the Longhorns. Emanuel allowed only four hits and one walk over his nine innings pitched.
It was the first complete game shutout in the CWS since 2006, when fellow Tar Heel Robert Woodard tossed a gem.
It was the first time that Texas had been shutout in Omaha since 1992, when they were shutout by eventual national champion Pepperdine.
Vanderbilt's Home Run Binge
The new, toned-down bats coupled with a humongous outfield at TD Ameritrade Park led some to believe that home runs would be nearly impossible in this year's College World Series.
Vanderbilt did its best to show that those fears were unfounded. They had four homers in their stay in the CWS, more than any other team.
Connor Harrell had two on his own, one in the opening game win over North Carolina and another in the second win over UNC, which eliminated the Tar Heels.
Curt Casali and Aaron Westlake also had home runs for Vanderbilt throughout the series.
Florida vs. South Carolina for the Championship
The championship series hasn't even happened yet, but I'm convinced it will be an instant classic.
Florida has been a favorite to win the national championship from the beginning. They have tons of talent in their pitching staff and have a well-rounded offensive attack.
South Carolina is the defending champion of this event and they are playing their best baseball right now. They have yet to lose a game in the entire NCAA tournament.
Regardless of which team wins, the SEC is guaranteed to win their third straight national championship.