Virginia junior righthander Will Roberts threw the first perfect game in school history in a 2-0 win against George Washington on Tuesday. He needed just 98 pitches to record the first Division I perfect game since Auburn's Eric Brandon did it in 2002. Since 1957, there have been just seven other nine-inning perfect games, and just 18 other perfect games of any length. Roberts' gem was also the second perfect game in Atlantic Coast Conference history (Maryland's Dick Reitz threw the last one in 1959 against Johns Hopkins).
Roberts struck out 10 and recorded 14 groundball outs, including the final out, a grounder to second baseman Keith Werman. That touched off a celebration around the mound, as teammates hoisted Roberts onto their shoulders.
"I had no idea what was going on," Roberts said of the celebration. "I felt people grabbing my legs and I had no idea what they were doing, and then they lifted me up. I wasn't really expecting that, but I have the best teammates in the nation. I am really happy for everybody. It is a team effort. It isn't just me."
In fact, the win was the 2,000th in UVa. history, and it improved the second-ranked Cavaliers to 25-2 on the season. Roberts improved to 5-0, 1.13 with 41 strikeouts and three walks in 40 innings, mostly as the midweek starter.
I looked back through my notes tonight to get some perspective on Roberts' UVa. career. The Cavs have always like his competitiveness and feel for pitching, but it's safe to say he has grown into a better pitcher than they ever envisioned he would be.
"He's a great pitchability guy, a big kid who's always been a winner and just really knows how to pitch," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said of Roberts when he was a freshman in 2009. "He's not going to beat himself, and he's going to keep the game in check. His fastball is 85-89, he has a good changeup, a breaking ball, and command of everything. He'll probably never go strike out 10 in a start, but he'll get ground balls."
On Tuesday, he not only struck out 10 and got plenty of ground balls, but he etched his name onto one of college baseball's most exclusive lists.
Here are some other highlights from a busy Tuesday:
• I drove up to Fullerton to watch Cal State Fullerton beat UCLA 5-3 in a rematch of last year's Los Angeles Super Regional. It wasn't a pretty game, as the two teams combined to make four errors and hit five batters, but the Titans got big hits when they needed them—specifically two-run singles by Carlos Lopez and Tyler Pill in the first and fifth innings.
"We were a little sloppy today—I think both teams were a little out of character in regards to the sloppy play, but we made less mistakes than they did," Fullerton coach Dave Serrano said. "This was a little trap game for me, because they're a great team, and I didn't know how we were going to respond with our bodies (after coming back from Hawaii)."
Serrano said he was pleased with starter Colin O'Connell's night (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER) after he had struggled a bit in his previous two outings, and righty Raymond Hernandez worked three scoreless innings to get the save, allowing just one hit. Hernandez, you might recall, surrendered UCLA second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla's game-tying home run in the ninth inning of the second super regional game last year, propelling the Bruins to a thrilling comeback win and a trip to Omaha. After Tuesday's game, he went to Serrano and said, "Thanks for trusting me."
"I thought this was a big step forward for Ray," Serrano said. "If we can get him going like that, it makes us that much deeper. We didn't have Nick Ramirez available to close in the ninth—he was a little sore after getting hit by a pitch today—so it was huge for Ray to come up big for us there. That's what I've noticed over the last five games is we're getting different guys to step up. And that's a sign of a team that's on a mission to do something pretty special down the line."
UCLA, meanwhile, dropped to 11-9 on the season. It was the same old story for the Bruins (who were without Rahmatulla while he deals with a pending academic issue)—they simply have not been able to produce enough offense to sustain any kind of winning streak.
"It's been frustrating, no question about it," UCLA coach John Savage said. "We've played a lot of tight ballgames. This was a little bit of a microcosm of the season tonight."
• Like UCLA, Florida lost to its long-time nemesis Tuesday. Florida State topped the Gators 5-2 in Jacksonville to take a 2-1 lead in the four-game season series between the two rivals. The Gators led 2-0 through three innings, but James Ramsey's two-run double tied the game in the fourth, and Ramsey doubled and scored in the sixth to put the Seminoles ahead for good. Stuart Tapley gave FSU some insurance with a two-run homer in the eighth.
• Two winning ACC winning streaks were snapped Tuesday. Georgia Tech's 16-game streak ended with a 4-2 loss to Mercer, which came from behind to tie the game in the seventh and go ahead with two runs in the eighth on Evan Boyd's two-run double. And Charlotte beat North Carolina, 4-3, to snap the Tar Heels' nine-game winning streak. Shane Basen's two-run double capped Charlotte's three-run fourth inning and put the 49ers ahead for good.
• Clemson rode a seven-run sixth to a come-from-behind 11-5 win against Georgia. Richie Shaffer (2-for-4, 3 R, 4 RBI, HR) led the way for the Tigers. Clemson catcher Spencer Kieboom returned to the lineup from a concussion and recorded two hits.
• California's pitching staff produced its fifth shutout in its last seven games, beating San Francisco 4-0. Senior righthander Kevin Miller struck out a career-high 15 batters over eight innings and allowed only one hit before handing off to closer Matt Flemer, who nailed down the one-hitter.
• No. 20 Stetson, No. 21 Troy and No. 25 Alabama all lost their first games after entering the Top 25. Surging Central Florida rapped out 14 hits and got six strong innings from Chase Bradford in an 8-2 win over the Hatters. Troy mustered just three hits in a 6-1 loss to Auburn, which rebounded from a sweep at the hands of Mississippi State. And Alabama-Birmingham broke a 1-1 tie with five runs in the seventh inning to beat Alabama, 5-1. Patrick Palmeiro started the rally with a go-ahead homer leading off the frame.
• Tyler Spurlin (6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K) and two relievers combined on a two-hit shutout in Rice's 7-0 win against Houston.
• Texas-San Antonio upset Baylor, 4-2, behind a strong outing from Jordan Langley (8.1 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K).
• There were a couple of slugfests between Pac-10 and WCC schools. Washington State overcame a 10-5 deficit to beat Gonzaga, 17-11. Cody Barlett and Brett Jacobs combined for seven hits and seven RBIs to lead the way for the Cougars. And Stanford overcame six errors—four of them by first-team preseason All-America shortstop Kenny Diekroeger—to beat St. Mary's, 16-14. The Gaels cut Stanford's 10-2 lead down to a run with seven runs in the seventh, but the Cardinal answered with six in the bottom of the frame, then held off St. Mary's in a five-run ninth. Jake Stewart, Stephen Piscotty and Lonnie Kauppila combined for 10 hits and nine RBIs for the Cardinal.
• Southeastern beat Southern in bizarre fashion. The Lions trailed the Jaguars 2-1 in the eighth inning but put two runners on with no out, when both teams were ordered off the field for a lightning delay. At 9:40 p.m., the umpires decided play was to resume, and the Lions returned to the field, but the Jaguars did not. So Southeastern was awarded a 9-0 forfeit victory.
“In the seventh inning, we encountered lightning,” Southern coach Roger Cador told the Baton Rouge Advocate. “We made the umpires aware that there was lighting. They acknowledged that they saw it and at that time did nothing about it. Then in the eighth inning, they saw it again and pulled the teams off the field for 30 minutes.
“When we came back out, there was still constant lightning. They wanted us back on the field in 10 minutes and I told them I didn’t want to put my players in harm’s way.”
Southeastern coach Jay Artigues had a different take.
"Neither the umpires nor myself would’ve had our kids on the field if it was dangerous," Artigues told the paper. "I’ve got all the respect in the world for Roger, but I disagree with him in this case.”
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