By Greg Waters
The top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers (49-8) swept their four games at the ACC baseball Tournament and claimed their third league title and second in the last three seasons with a 7 to 2 win over two-seeded Florida State. All three Virginia championships have been won at the Durham Bulls Park where the Hoos remained undefeated in the ACC Tournament play in three tournaments.
Right hander Hunter Scantling (3-2) started for the Seminoles and threw only 59 pitches in 5.2 innings of work but there were two throws he would probably like to have back. John Hicks stroked a two-run shot in the first but it was Tournament MVP Steven Proscia’s three-run bomb in the bottom of the sixth that proved to be the difference in the ball game.
On a day when the ball was flying out of the stadium the two clubs combined for four roundtrippers.
Danny Hultzen (10-3) picked up the win with a six inning outing surrendering two runs while scattering six hits. Hultzen fanned 5, walked a runner and hit a batter.
Expecting to pitch last night against Carolina, Hultzen says he relished the chance to pitch the title game.
“I just assumed that I was going to pitch last night,” said the ACC Pitcher of the Year. “I wanted to be in the mentality that I was going to pitch no matter what. Once the other game ended,Coach O’Connor came and told me we were going to go with Cody [Winiarski] and I was going to pitch today. I was very excited for the opportunity to pitch in the championship game. It said a lot to me about what our coaches and players think about putting me out there in the championship game.
It didn’t take long for the sparks to fly in the 2011 ACC Title game. Florida States Devon Travis opened the game with a double on Hultzen’s first pitch and Mike McGee drove him home on a grounder to third. On the play Virginia third baseman Steven Proscia attempted to nail Travis at the plate but his throw was wide of catcher John Hicks and run scored.
The Cavaliers answered in the bottom of the frame when Hicks sent his 2-run blast over the ‘Blue Monster’ in left field. The HR was only Hicks’ second hit of the tournament and his first two RBI.
As for Hultzen, he was at his best when in trouble – most not of his own doing.
FSU had a chance to break the game open in the top of the third with two on and one out. But Hultzen forced Jayce Boyd to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Hultzen worked out of trouble again in the fifth with runners on first and second with one out for Mike McGee. Hultzen
forced McGee to ground to Taylor at short but he bobbled the ball and could only get the out at second to leave runners at the corners. That left matters up to James Ramsey hitting .319 with two outs and .361 with runners in scoring position. Ramsey worked the count to 1-1 and then went down swinging on Hultzen’s final two offerings of the at bat.
Travis says the Noles need to do more with those chances.
“It was definitely frustrating,” admits Travis. “I thought we did a great job at the plate against arguably the best pitcher in college baseball. I think that as a team we definitely can’t hang our head. We didn’t get the hits when we needed them, and Virginia did. That’s why they won the game.”
But FSU would get back on the board in the top of the sixth when Justin Gonzalez launched a bomb 415 feet into the centerfield shrubbery.
Again, the Cavaliers had an answer.
With Scantling cruising, John Barr reached on a hit by pitch and Hicks singled to put two on forProscia. On a 1-1 pitch the Cavalier third baseman sent Scantling offering just over the ‘BlueMonster’ to give Virginia a three run lead.
Scantling, who pounded the zone all afternoon as 45 of his 59 pitches were strikes, admits theslider he hung to Proscia was a mistake.
“You just have to make your pitches. I just threw one bad pitch,” said Scantling. “I just wanted to get out there, eat up innings, and get the team back in the dugout. After the first inning, I knew that I had to step my game up and make better pitches, and I feel like I was able to beardown and do that.”
The Cavaliers added some insurance in the seventh when Jared King scored on Chris Taylor’s two run dinger.
Tyler Wilson pitched the final 1.1 innings, did not allow a base runner and struck out two. For the tournament Wilson posted a 1.17 ERA in 7.2 innings of work, allowed just one run on two hits and fanned 14.
The NCAA host sites were announced in the eighth with both Virginia and FSU being awarded hosting regionals. In addition Clemson, Georgia Tech and UNC will be hosting regionals as well.
C – Rafael Lopez, Florida State
1B – Jesse Wierzbicki, North Carolina
2B – Zeke DeVoss, Miami
3B – Steven Proscia, Virginia
SS – Chris Taylor, Virginia
OF – Kenny Swab, Virginia
OF – James Ramsey, Florida State
OF – Chris Epps, Clemson
UT/DH – Mike McGee, Florida State
P – Cory Mazzoni, NC State
P – Patrick Johnson, North Carolina
Tournament MVP – Steven Proscia, Virginia