If there was any question as to whether the Bears could play with the best teams in the country, this answered it. The Bears battled hard and were just a few breaks away from breaking through and taking down the #1 team in the land, but they didn’t get those breaks. Instead, Virginia got some breaks their way and were the better team (not by much) in a 4-1 victory.
Erik Johnson continues his Jonathan Sanchezian ways of late, as when he’s not walking people he’s dominant. But when you’re walking 5 Cavaliers and constantly stacking the bases, you’re not getting the job done. Not to say it was a poor performance- he went 3 innings and didn’t give up a run- but you expect more out of your junior ace.
Danny Hultzen weaved in and out of trouble early, but by the end of the game was dominating like a #2 pick. The Bears had their chances, squandering them by failed bunts and wasting runners in scoring position. Hultzen did his fair share to keep it scoreless, but he had help from problems with the Cal hitting.
The game was scoreless for the first 6 and a half innings, before Logan Scott allowed the first two base runners to reach (one by walk, one by hit). Scott had already gotten Johnson out of a jam in the fourth and threw two scoreless innings of his own. A bunt by Barr moved the two runners into scoring position, and base hits by the Virginia big bats (Hicks and Proscia) gave the Hoos a 2-0 lead.
While we may not have known it at the time, the game was over right there. Virginia would tee off on Kevin Miller, and add two more runs on to their lead going into the ninth inning. The Bears got a run on a Bunting single, but the Cavaliers finished off Cal 4-1.
The Bears gave a good effort, constantly threatening Hultzen and Virginia #2 starter Tyler Wilson. In the end, they didn’t get the hits they needed with runners in scoring position and they didn’t threaten quite enough. The pitching did a good job as well, and Cal was very much in the mix of the game all the way through. It was an admirable effort from everyone on the squad.
It’s a long road back to the winners bracket for the Bears. They now have to win 4 games in a row in order to advance to the national championship. Of course, it has to start somewhere, and it has to start on Tuesday against the loser of Texas A&M and South Carolina. The odds are against the Bears, but this is a team that has overcome the losers bracket before. They now have to do it again.
This is a definite setback for the Bears, and now they have a huge mountain to climb. It’ll take four wins over #1 seeds to get to the ultimate prize: the national championship series. One thing’s for sure: this team can play with and beat any team in the country. It’s just a matter of proving it on the field. Go Bears!