Virginia Cavaliers open at College World Series Sunday
Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan said his team should be able to adjust to the spaciousness of TD Ameritrade Park, which has the same dimensions as Rosenblatt and is similar to the site of the Southeastern Conference tournament in Hoover, Ala.
"We did some things differently there than we had been all year long," he said. "We bunted a bit more, we hit-and-run a bit more. We needed to manufacture some runs. We've got that capability. The bottom line is that we have to somehow figure out a way to get leadoff men on and get to one of the best pitchers in college baseball."
The Longhorns are built on pitching and defense. Garrido joked that his offense is so impotent that the NCAA won't need to inspect his team's bats before games to make sure they conform to new specifications. The Longhorns are batting .272 and have hit just 17 home runs in 66 games.
"We'll just have to find a way to score a run every now and then," Garrido said. "Kevin's got more guys with home runs than our team."
Cal's appearance caps a season that started with its baseball program on the chopping block, only to be saved by a $9 million fundraising effort. The Bears, who won the first CWS in 1947 in Kalamazoo, Mich., haven't made it this far since 1992.
"Any morning you can wake up in Omaha it's a great day," Cal coach David Esquer said.
Virginia survived a three-game super regional against UC Irvine in which it rallied with two out in the ninth inning to advance to Omaha. The Cavaliers are trying to become the first No. 1 national seed since Miami in 1999 to win it all.
"Any club can win it," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. "It's a matter of who gets hot at the right time. Hopefully, that's us."
Texas A&M was the only road team to win a super regional, beating Florida State in three games. The Aggies have survived despite losing ace John Stilson, who tore his labrum before the NCAA tournament.
Ross Stripling (14-2, 2.29) will start against South Carolina's Michael Roth (13-3, 1.02), one of the heroes of last year's CWS. A reliever, he was called on to make two starts that helped South Carolina become the first team to win six straight games in a single CWS.
Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner hopes for a smoother ride this time.
"We're a kind of club that a lot of times when people play us, they don't think we're very good," Tanner said. "We win our share."
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