It took the Cavaliers’ offense a lot longer to get going. Finally they scratched out enough for a 4-1 College World Series victory over California on Sunday.
“We had confidence the whole time,” Hicks said. “Their pitchers did an unbelievable job of keeping them in the game until we strung a few hits together. We had to get a ball in the air or in the middle of the field and then we’d score a run, but we didn’t come up with the clutch hit. We knew we’d get on the board.”
Steve Proscia followed Hicks‘ hit with a sacrifice fly, and the Cavaliers added two more runs in the eighth.
The No. 1 seed Cavaliers (55-10) move to a Bracket 2 winners’ game against South Carolina on Tuesday night. Cal (37-22) meets Texas A&M also on Tuesday.
Before Hicks‘ run-scoring single, the Cavaliers had gone 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
“We started to wonder there,” Virginia coach Brian O’Connor said. “We had a lot of missed opportunities we didn’t capitalize on. That speaks to the quality of the arms California has, the ability to pitch out of jams. I knew if we hung in there and continued to battle, and our pitching held us in there, we’d have a chance to win it late.”
Hultzen, the No. 2 overall draft pick by the Seattle Mariners, allowed three hits over 6 1-3 innings. He walked three and struck out six. He effectively mixed his 94-mph fastball with his slider and changeup.
“Danny Hultzen, as advertised, the second pick of the draft. He’s tough. A little bend but no break, and I have to give him a lot of credit for making the big out when he had to,” Cal coach David Esquer said.
Wilson (9-0) got the win after working 2 1-3 innings and Branden Kline recorded the last out for his 18th save.
“We’ve been a team that has grinded it out offensively,” O’Connor said. “A pitcher can get very frustrated with our offensive approach. No one gives in.”
Logan Scott (1-2) took the loss in relief of Erik Johnson, who struggled for a third straight start.
The Cavaliers broke through after No. 9 hitter Keith Werman singled leading off the seventh and Chris Taylor walked, chasing Scott and bringing on closer Matt Flemer.