Wilson, Virginia shut down California
Senior hurler leads Cavaliers to victory, ends Bears miracle run
OMAHA, Neb. -- Virginia’s Tyler Wilson didn’t have any problem with the pressure of pitching in a big game.
The unbeaten senior allowed five hits and carried a shutout into the eighth inning in the No. 1-seeded Cavaliers’ 8-1 victory against California in a College World Series elimination game Thursday night.
“All yearlong, whenever we’ve needed a great outing, maybe after a difficult loss, he’s responded every time for his team,” Virginia coach Brian O’Connor said. “He was the right guy to give the ball to tonight. He went out there and charged the mound and gave us everything that he had.”
Virginia (56-11) will face defending national champion South Carolina in the Bracket 2 final. The Cavs, who lost 7-1 to the Gamecocks on Tuesday, would need to beat them on Friday and again Saturday to reach next week’s best-of-three championship round.
The loss ended an improbable postseason run for California (38-23), which started the year with its program scheduled to be dropped in 2012 for budgetary reasons. The players found out in April that a $9 million fundraising effort had saved the program.
“It’s been a year that has really taught them, as well as myself, a whole lot about human spirit,” Cal coach David Esquer said.
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Wilson (10-0) held the Bears to two hits through five innings and retired 11 in a row from the second to sixth. He matched his career high of 7 2-3 innings, striking out five and walking none.
“It’s the College World Series. How can you not pitch with adrenaline every time you step out there on that mound?” Wilson said. “The atmosphere is incomparable to anything else that you’ll ever play at this level. I was ecstatic just to be out there to give our team a chance to build some momentum going into the rest of the tournament.”
Cal starter Dixon Anderson (4-4) took the loss, failing to get past the third inning for the third time in five starts.
Virginia broke open the game with a four-run sixth that started when Kenny Swab singled into center field and kept running until he got home after the ball got past center fielder Darrel Matthews.
Matthews misplayed the bounce on Swab’s hard drive and the ball rolled to the wall, bringing the overflow crowd of 25,833 to its feet. It was Matthews’ first error in 50 games this season.
“I saw him kind of trying to make a short-hop catch on it, and it went by, so I just started running as hard as I could,” Swab said.
Keith Werman and John Barr followed with RBI singles and Chris Taylor with a run-scoring double.
Anderson, a ninth-round pick of the Washington Nationals, had a rough night in his first outing since June 5.
He hit Taylor with the first pitch of the game. His wild pitch in the third let Jared King score the first run. Anderson’s throw to first on Werman’s sacrifice bunt pulled Devon Rodriguez off the bag, and Werman scored on a sacrifice fly.
Cal had rallied from a 7-1 sixth-inning deficit to beat Baylor in the regional finals. There would be no comeback against Wilson, the Baltimore Orioles’ 10th-round draft pick.
Wilson left in the eighth after Cal put two runners on base. Cody Winiarski relieved, and Tony Renda ended the shutout with an RBI single. That was it for the Bears.
“One of the first things I thought was, ‘Is it really over?’ I couldn’t really believe it,” Pac-10 player of the year Tony Renda said. “The second thought was, ‘Let’s win it next year.”’
Wilson, who also pitched on Virginia’s 2009 CWS team, won his third decision in his fifth appearance in Omaha.
“It’s great to be able to play behind him,” said Werman, the Cavs’ second baseman. “Knowing he’s going to throw strikes, if those guys put the ball in play you’re going to do everything you can for him. He just does it every day, and you couldn’t ask for anything better.”