No. 14 Baseball Reaches ACC Title Game With Win over Duke
DURHAM, N.C. Dan Grovatt (So., Tabernacle, N.J.) tied a career-high with four hits and was a key part in a seven-run seventh inning as the No. 14 Virginia baseball team downed Duke, 11-7, in the ACC Baseball Championship Saturday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>
With the win, the sixth-seeded Cavaliers clinched a berth in the championship game vs. No. 7 Florida State, the tournament’s top seed, at 1 p.m. Sunday. The game will air live on CSN Mid-Atlantic, SportSouth, FS Carolina and Sun Sports.
Virginia won Division B with a 3-0 record, including victories over No. 4 North Carolina, No. 13 Clemson and Duke. Duke finishes pool play with a 1-2 record. The Cavaliers will appear in the title game for the second straight year.
Grovatt went 4-for-5 with a solo home run, three doubles and three RBI. He tied career highs with his four hits and three doubles. Franco Valdes (Jr., Miami, Fla.) hit a key two-run double in the seventh and Keith Werman (Fr., Vienna, Va.) followed him in the inning with a two-run triple to break open the close game. Seven of the Cavaliers’ 11 hits went for extra bases.
Virginia reliever Tyler Wilson (So., Midlothian, Va.) pitched three innings of relief to earn the win and improve to 7-3 this season. Duke reliever Michael Ness (2-2) was the victim of a key seventh-inning error and was credited with the loss after giving up five unearned runs.
UVa starting pitcher Robert Morey (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) tossed five innings, giving up four runs (two earned), four hits and three walks while striking out seven. Duke starter Eric Pfisterer worked five innings, allowing two earned runs, four hits and three walks while striking out six to earn the win. He threw to one batter in the sixth inning, giving up Grovatt’s home run.
A day after scoring 10 runs in the third inning against North Carolina, UVa nearly topped it with a seven-run outburst in the seventh inning vs. Duke. The Cavaliers sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven runs, with the entire rally starting with two out.
Trailing 4-2, Tyler Cannon (Jr., Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) and Phil Gosselin (So., West Chester, Pa.) each worked two-out walks to start the seventh-inning rally. Duke switched pitchers, going with Michael Ness, but Grovatt kept up his hot play with a double into the left-field corner to score Cannon. Ness then hit John Hicks (Fr., Sandy Hook, Va.) with a pitch to load the bases and hit Steven Proscia (Fr., Suffern, N.Y.) with the next pitch to force in Gosselin. Danny Hultzen (Fr., Bethesda, Md.) then hit a sharp grounder, which first baseman Nate Freiman booted for an error to allow Grovatt to score and push UVa ahead, 5-4.
Valdes then scorched a double into the left-field corner to score two more. Duke again went to the bullpen with Dennis O’Grady, but Werman ripped a triple to right-center to score Hultzen and Valdes and give UVa a 9-4 lead.
The day started with Morey escaping a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the first inning by striking out Jeremy Gould and inducing Jake Lemmerman to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.
Duke (35-24) scored three times in the third inning, but it was anything but a conventional inning. With two out and runners on first and third, Morey tossed a wild pitch while striking out Gould. Ryan McCurdy scored on the play and Gould reached first base. Lemmerman then grounded to Cannon at shortstop, who threw away the attempted forceout at second base, scoring Matt Williams. Gould moved to third on the play and stole home when Lemmerman broke for second and purposely was caught in a rundown.
The Cavaliers (42-12-1) picked up their first run in the fourth inning. Grovatt doubled with one out, and Proscia was hit by a pitch with two out. Hultzen then singled off the glove of second baseman Gabriel Saade to bring in Grovatt.
Duke got the run right back in its half of the fourth on a two-out single by McCurdy to score Will Piwnica-Worms from second base.
The Cavaliers cut a run from the lead in the sixth inning when Grovatt launched a leadoff home run to right-center for his seventh homer of the year.
After the seven-run seventh inning, UVa added a run in the eighth when Grovatt doubled high off the Blue Monster in left field, scoring Cannon, who led off the inning with a double.
Duke cut the six-run lead in half in the bottom of the eighth, scoring on a Wilson wild pitch and RBI doubles from Tim Sherlock and Marcus Jones.
Virginia tacked on an insurance run in the ninth inning when reliever Ryan Knott threw a wild pitch to score Hultzen.