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Virginia faces No. 2 national seed Texas in CWS elimination game

By Jerry Ratcliffe

uva baseball

Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

It is somewhat puzzling that in spite of its high batting average thus far in the College World Series, Virginia isn’t considered particularly good at the plate.

The Cavaliers will have a chance to prove how good they are tonight when they meet the nation’s No. 2 seeded Texas Longhorns in an elimination game (7 p.m. on ESPN2).

Practically every opponent preview of UVA comments about how poor the Wahoos are offensively, yet statistics prove otherwise. Coming into tonight’s game, the Cavaliers are hitting .357 (25-for-70) in the two CWS games they’ve played, which is the highest batting average of all the eight teams in the field.

Even in the 6-5 loss to Mississippi State two nights ago, Virginia accumulated 12 hits.

The Cavaliers will try to get to Texas lefty starter Pete Hansen early tonight and test the Longhorns’ bullpen. Hansen, who threw 26 pitches in two innings in Sunday’s loss to Mississippi State, is 9-1 on the season and has a 1.79 ERA. He’s not a big strikeout pitcher.

UVA will counter with right-hander Mike Vasil (7-5, 4.82 ERA), who has a team-leading 31-career starts. Tonight will be Vasil’s 16th start of the season, six of his seven wins having accounted for either clinching a series or helping his team avoid a sweep.

Virginia coach Brian O’Connor said he believes his team will be ready for the challenge of taking on the Longhorns (48-16) in tonight’s battle, and will have put the loss to Mississippi State behind them.

UVA had a 4-0 lead in that game as starter Griff McGarry had a no-hitter going into the eighth inning when the Bulldogs reached him for a two-run homer, and reliever Stephen Schoch for a three-run homer as part of a six-run outburst that eventually secured the game.

Trailing 6-4, UVA drew closer in the bottom of the inning on a solo home run by Chris Newell to draw within a run. MSU pitchers retired four of the next five Cavalier batters to end the game, setting up tonight’s elimination showdown with Texas.

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