Virginia Defeats Cal State Fullerton, 7-5, Advances in College World Series

By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

OMAHA, June 15 -- On Sunday night, Virginia Coach Brian O'Connor sketched six different lineups for Monday's College World Series elimination game against Cal State Fullerton. O'Connor wanted to shuffle his lineup -- an uncommon practice this late in the season -- and could not settle on the right combination.

He arrived at Rosenblatt Stadium on Monday and formulated a lineup different from any of Sunday's possibilities. As a result, Virginia's players must delay packing up their apartments in Charlottesville and halt preparing for summer for at least two more days.

Virginia avoided elimination on Monday, just as it did after dropping the first game of the super regional. The Cavaliers eliminated Cal State Fullerton in a 7-5 win to secure the program's first-ever College World Series victory and advance in the loser's bracket. They will play Wednesday against Arkansas, which lost, 9-1, to Louisiana State in Monday night's late game.

"Every time, all year long, we've bounced back from defeat," O'Connor said. "I don't know if there's anything better you could have said about yourself that you're someone who just doesn't lay down. You come back fighting. That's what I'm most proud of this team."

O'Connor, whose bold managerial decisions have been validated throughout the postseason, effectively reshuffled his lineup. Outfielder Jarrett Parker batted leadoff in all but three of Virginia's 63 prior games this season, but O'Connor knew he needed to slide his struggling sophomore, who batted sixth on Monday.

Cal State Fullerton Coach Dave Serrano was surprised when he saw O'Connor's lineup card. He figured this was late in the season to disrupt what worked the whole way.

After batting 1 for 13 against LSU in the top three spots on Saturday, Virginia's first three batters finished 3 for 8 with three RBI on Monday.

"I just felt like we had to mix it up a little bit," O'Connor said. "I figured I'd be having to move [Parker] down a little bit. I tried to mix in as many righty-lefty combos as I could."

One thing O'Connor made sure he did was keep the hot-swinging combination of catcher Franco Valdes and second baseman Keith Werman in the final two spots of the order.

Werman, who has quickly become a fan favorite, batted 2 for 4 with two RBI and two runs scored for the Cavaliers.

His two-out, RBI single in the second inning set up Danny Hultzen's bases-loaded, two-RBI single two batters later to round out a four-run inning.

Both clutch hits allowed Virginia (49-14-1) to overcome Cal State Fullerton's two-run second-inning and provided a lead that was never relinquished. Fullerton finished 47-16.

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