Charlottesville Regional features young, talented teams
1. Virginia (46-13) -- Sixth appearance, at-large, ACC
2. South Carolina (37-22) -- 22nd appearance, at-large, SEC
3. Evansville (40-20) -- Third appearance, automatic, won Missouri Valley regular season and tournament
4. Lehigh (28-26) -- First appearance, automatic, won Patriot League regular season and tournament
Charlottesville Regional schedule
At Davenport Field at the UVa Baseball Stadium
Friday, June 2
Game 1 -- Virginia 11, Lehigh 5
Game 2 -- South Carolina vs. Evansville, ppd., weather
Saturday, June 3
Game 2 -- South Carolina 4, Evansville 2
Game 3 -- Evansville 10, Lehigh 6
Game 4 -- South Carolina 8, Virginia 2
Sunday, June 4
Game 5 -- Evansville 15, Virginia 4
Game 6 -- Evansville 15, South Carolina 5
Monday, June 5
Game 7 -- South Carolina 5, Evansville 1
South Carolina (39-23) advances to the super regional round.
Charlottesville Regional notes
Virginia had made three NCAA appearances in its history before hiring Brian O'Connor before the 2004 season. The former Notre Dame assistant has led the Cavaliers to three tournaments in his first three seasons, and this marks the second time the Cavaliers have played host to the regionals under O'Connor. This freshman- and sophomore-dominated club might even be a year ahead of schedule. Ironically-named sophomore Sean Doolitte does it all for Virginia. The left-hander/first baseman (11-1, 1.87; .308-4-53) was named ACC player of the year and fronts a pitching staff that ranked second nationally with a 2.81 ERA, taking full advantage of spacious Davenport Field, where the Cavaliers were 31-3. Sophomores Brandon Guyer (.329-7-53) and Brandon Marsh (.386-3-30) highlight a batting order that features five underclassmen among its first six batters. Three freshmen start alongside Doolittle in the infield, and Virginia still led the ACC in fielding despite that youth.
Like Virginia, South Carolina starts three freshmen in its infield and still ranked second nationally in fielding. But injuries, not youth, have proved troublesome for the Gamecocks. They lost Friday starter Arik Hempy to Tommy John surgery midway through the season and leading hitter Michael Campbell (.364) to a broken hand in the final week of the regular season. Chris Brown (.366 in 37 games) has also missed time with injury. Shortstop Reese Havens was pulled from South Carolina's final SEC tournament game with an arm injury, but expects to play in Charlottesville. Freshman first baseman Justin Smoak led the team with 16 homers and 57 RBI, while another first-year player, right-hander Mike Cisco (6-4, 3.87), emerged as the team's ace after Hempy went down.
Evansville knocked off top-seeded Arizona State in 1988 behind first-round pick Andy Benes. While no member of this year's staff boasts that pedigree, the Purple Aces still ranked ninth nationally with 3.33 ERA. They allowed more than four runs 18 times in 60 games, and just twice over their final 15 games -- 14 of which were wins. The staff doesn't boast a singular star (only Ben Norton's 3.07 ERA ranked among the Valley's top 10), but each of the top eight pitchers own ERAs of 3.61 or lower. That should play well in spacious Davenport Stadium. Missouri Valley tournament MVP Kasey Wahl, a junior first baseman, ranked second in the league with a .386 average and added 18 doubles.
Army, the 2005 Patriot League representative, made Florida State very nervous in a 3-2 loss and eliminated South Alabama in last year's tournament. Lehigh could savor one game as a spoiler with big games from right-hander Kyle Collina and catcher Matt McBride. Collina, the 2005 New England Collegiate League pitcher of the year, struggled through mononucleosis early in the year before getting his velocity back to 90 and retiring 18 straight batters in the Patriot League championship game. McBride won the Patriot triple crown (.421-10-53, adding 21 steals) and should be a top-five-rounds pick because of his bat and excellent defense
Will Kimmey covers college baseball for Baseball America.
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