After losing in the super-regional round at home last year to Oklahoma, the Cavaliers bounced back and beat the tough UC-Irvine Anteaters at home in the super regional this year to get back to the College World Series.
The Cavaliers march to Omaha began with a relatively easy regional-round sweep at home in Charlottesville. They won their three games by a combined score of 29-3.
It began with a 6-0 win over Navy and was followed up by a 10-2 win over St. John's and a 13-1 victory over East Carolina in the regional final.
It was in the super-regional round that the Cavaliers met their first bit of adversity. After winning the opening game by the score of 6-0, they dropped Game 2, 6-4.
In the deciding Game 3, we had a classic on our hands. Going into the ninth inning, the game was knotted at 1-1. UC-Irvine pushed across a run in the top half of the inning and in the bottom half, staff workhorse Matt Summers retired the first two Cavalier hitters with little trouble.
Three straight batters then reached to load the bases. Chris Taylor sent the fans (most of them at least) home happy as he delivered a two-run single to give Virginia a 3-2 walk-off win and their second trip to Omaha in three seasons.
The heart of this Cavaliers team is their pitching staff. They are led by Danny Hultzen, the second-overall pick in the recent MLB Draft who is as tough as they come. In the regional, Hultzen held St. John's to three hits and one run in seven innings of work. In the super-regional round against the Anteaters, Hultzen tossed 5.1 innings of shutout baseball, limiting UC-Irvine to just three hits.
Tyler Wilson and Will Roberts, the two starters behind Hultzen, aren't shabby either. Wilson held East Carolina to one run on 6.1 innings in the regional final. He nearly matched that against UC-Irvine as he limited them to one run over six innings of work. In that game, though, the bullpen blew the lead that he left them with.
Roberts, who has a no-hitter to his credit this season, tossed a complete-game shutout in the regional opener against Navy and then threw 7.1 innings of one-run baseball in the super-regional clinching game against UC-Irvine.
In the postseason, the Cavaliers' offense has really come alive. They ran roughshod over opposing pitchers in the regional round and then came through with timely hit after timely hit in the super regional.
Steven Proscia is the most dangerous run producer of the bunch. In the regional, he had six hits and five RBI. All told this season, he boasts a .335 batting average, eight home runs and 58 RBI.
Catcher John Hicks added four hits and four RBI in the regional and has nearly identical numbers to Proscia on the season. Hicks has a .340 batting average with seven home runs and 57 RBI.
In the super-regional round, there were no bigger stars than Jared King and Chris Taylor. King went 3-for-4 with three RBI in the super-regional Game 1 victory over UC-Irvine.
Taylor, who had 46 RBI coming into Game 3, added two huge ones to his total as he drove in the game-tying and winning runs on his single in the ninth inning in the series-deciding game.
Head coach Brian O'Connor knows a little something about Omaha. He made it as a player for Creighton in 1991. His likeness is used in the famous Road to Omaha statue that sat outside of Rosenblatt Stadium and now sits outside of new T.D. Ameritrade Park. He coached Virginia here in 2009, but this time he will be looking to get a little further.
Many favor Virginia to come home with the trophy. They have been the consensus best team in the nation for much of the latter part of the season. As a team, they expect nothing less than winning it all.