Stephen Strasburg will not enter the 2009 First-Year Player Draft with a perfect college season behind him. Strasburg, the sensational right-hander expected in all circles to be selected by the Nationals as the first pick overall in the June 9 draft, took a loss for the first time all season as Virginia posted a 5-1 win over San Diego State in the opener of the NCAA regional at Irvine, Calif. Strasburg (13-1) delivered 15 strikeouts in seven innings, allowing two earned runs on eight hits. The junior, who played prep ball in San Diego, also had two wild pitches and no walks.
"I was pretty excited to be out there, but it's pretty tough to pitch against a team that you've never really heard of, you don't really have a good scouting report on them," Strasburg said. "They put a good bat on the ball." Virginia got to Strasburg early, with the second batter of the game, Phil Gosselin, hitting the first pitch he saw from Strasburg over the 380-foot sign in left-center field at Anteater Ballpark. The Cavaliers (44-12-1) scored on a groundout in the second. Baseball Hall of Famer and Aztecs coach Tony Gwynn waited until Friday to announce that Strasburg would pitch San Diego State's first NCAA playoff game in Gwynn's tenure, and its first since 1991. But the Cavaliers went on the assumption the fireballer would be throwing his 100-mph fastball against them, so they prepared for the game by dialing up their pitching machine and standing closer to it. "We prepared for him all week," said Gosselin. "We just moved up physically closer to the machine to get some reaction time. We were probably 30, 40 feet away, pretty close. We did a lot of tracking pitches to see velocity and get used to the speed coming in." Strasburg's teammates will have to help their ace get another start. The Aztecs (40-22) will meet defending champion Fresno St., which lost to top-seeded host UC Irvine, in an elimination game Saturday.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, The Grind. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.