DURHAM, N.C. John Hicks (Fr., Sandy Hook, Va.) hit a two-run single in the ninth inning to break a 3-3 tie and lift the No. 14 Virginia baseball team to a 6-3 victory over Florida State in the title game of the ACC Baseball Championship Sunday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C. Virginia, the sixth seed, is the lowest seed to ever win the tournament crown after winning four games in four days to earn the ACC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. FSU was the top seed in the field.
The tournament championship is the second in Virginia’s school history. The last came in 1996 and ironically also came against Florida State in Durham. Virginia also won the ACC regular-season championship in 1972, which was prior to the tournament era.
The ACC championship was the sixth this year for the Virginia Department of Athletics the most in the ACC this year. It also ties a school record for ACC titles in one season.
Dan Grovatt (So., Tabernacle, N.J.) was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He was joined on the All-Tournament Team by teammates Franco Valdes (Jr., Miami, Fla.) and Danny Hultzen (Fr., Bethesda, Md.). Grovatt went 8-for-15 in the tournament.
The game was tied at three in the ninth inning when Virginia (43-12-1) put together its championship-winning rally. With one out, Phil Gosselin (So., West Chester, Pa.) singled. He advanced to second when FSU second baseman Jason Stidham booted a grounder by Hultzen. Grovatt then walked to load the bases, and Hicks singled through the drawn-in infield to score two runs. Grovatt and Hicks advanced on an errant throw to the plate by left fielder Mike McGee, and Grovatt later scored on a passed ball by Parker Brunelle.
UVa reliever Tyler Wilson (So., Midlothian, Va.) earned the win and improved to 8-3 with two scoreless innings. He provided the game’s turning point in the bottom of the eighth inning by escaping a bases-loaded, one-out situation to keep the game tied and set up the Cavaliers’ ninth-inning heroics. Kevin Arico (So., Flemington, N.J.) struck out the side in a perfect ninth inning to notch his 10th save fourth in a single season in Virginia history.
FSU’s Sean Gilmartin (11-3) took the loss after giving up all three runs (one earned) in the ninth inning.
Neither starting pitcher earned a decision. UVa starter Andrew Carraway (Sr., Marietta, Ga.) pitched 2.2 innings, giving up three earned runs, five hits and one walk while striking out three. With his three strikeouts, Carraway now has 229 career punchouts and moves into a seventh-place tie on the UVa career strikeouts ledger with Joe Koshansky (2001-04).
Florida State starter Mike McGee was effectively wild. In 3.2 innings, he gave up three runs (two earned) and three hits while walking four and throwing four wild pitches. He struck out six.
Florida State (42-16) scored the first runs of the game when Jason Stidham clubbed a two-run home run to right field in the first inning.
The Cavaliers cut the lead in half in the second inning. Grovatt led off with a single and advanced to second with two out on an errant pickoff throw by McGee. Steven Proscia (Fr., Suffern, N.Y.) then doubled to left-center field to plate Grovatt.
In the third inning, the Seminoles got three-consecutive one-out singles from Stephen Cardullo, McGee and Stidham to tack on another run and push their lead to 3-1.
Virginia answered with a pair of runs in the fourth. Cannon walked to lead off and moved up on a wild pitch. He moved up on a groundout to second base by Proscia and scored when Valdes blooped a single into left-center field. Valdes advanced on a wild pitch and a Keith Werman (Fr., Vienna, Va.) groundout to second base and scored on a Rafael Lopez passed ball, tying the game at 3-3.
Wilson escaped a huge Florida State threat in the eighth inning to keep the game tied. After loading the bases with one out, Wilson struck out Tommy Oravetz and then got Jack Posey to end the inning with a lazy fly ball to right field to set up UVa’s ninth-inning rally.
Virginia will now await its NCAA Tournament fate. The 64-team field will be announced at 12:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN.
2009 ACC Baseball All-Tournament Team
C-Franco Valdes, Virginia
1B-Dustin Ackley, North Carolina
2B-Jason Stidham, Florida State
3B-Mickey Wiswall, Boston College
SS-Jake Lemmerman, Duke
OF-Dan Grovatt, Virginia
OF-Wilson Boyd, Clemson
OF-Mike McGee, Florida State
UT/DH-Danny Hultzen, Virginia
P-Pat Dean, Boston College
P-Casey Harman, Clemson
All-Tournament Most Valuable Player
Dan Grovatt, Virginia