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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Virginia baseball team dropped its series finale with Florida State, 9-8, Sunday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. Tyler Holt’s two-run home run in the eighth inning pushed FSU ahead for good in the back-and-forth battle and helped the Seminoles avoid the series sweep. Despite the loss, Virginia still scored its first-ever series win against Florida State, capturing the series two games to one.

Both teams are ranked nationally among the top five. Virginia (12-3, 2-1 ACC) is ranked as high as No. 1 in the Baseball America and polls, while Florida State (13-2, 1-2) stands as high as No. 2 nationally in the Collegiate Baseball, NCBWA and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls.

Holt hit his two-run blast with one out in the eighth off Virginia relief pitcher Tyler Wilson (Jr., Midlothian, Va.), who was credited with the loss and fell to 2-1 this season. Mike McGee (2-0) pitched the final 1.2 innings for the Seminoles to earn the win. He also went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI at the plate.

Virginia starting pitcher Cody Winiarski (Jr., Franksville, Wis.) worked 3.2 innings and gave up four earned runs, seven hits and a walk while striking out three. Florida State starter Geoff Parker tossed 5.2 innings, allowing five earned runs, seven hits and three walks while striking out six.

Dan Grovatt (Jr., Tabernacle, N.J.) finished off a big weekend for UVa with a 3-for-5 day and his third home run of the series. He went 8-for-14 with four runs scored and five RBI in the series. Steven Proscia (So., Suffern, N.Y.) added a pair of hits and two RBI, while Phil Gosselin (Jr., West Chester, Pa.) hit a solo home run.

Both teams held leads on two separate occasions Sunday, and the game was tied three different times.

Grovatt got the Cavaliers’ offense going with a two-out solo home run to right-center in the first inning. UVa tacked on a run in the second when Franco Valdes (Sr., Miami, Fla.) grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. Jarrett Parker (Jr., Stafford, Va.), who led off the inning with an infield single, scored on the play.

Florida State quickly tied the game in the bottom of the second when McGee and Stuart Tapley hit back-to-back home runs to start the inning.

The Cavaliers immediately countered when Gosselin homered to left-center on the first pitch of the third inning for his third long ball of the season. With two out, Proscia singled to right, advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a wild pitch as Parker struck out. Parker and Proscia then combined on a double steal, with Parker swiping second and Proscia stealing home with a nifty slide to evade catcher Parker Brunelle.

FSU tied the game against Winiarski in the fourth inning while doing all of its damage with two out. Jayce Boyd started the rally with a single to right. Winiarski then walked Brunelle, and Holt followed with a double down the left-field line to plate Boyd and knot the score at four. Neal Davis (Sr., Baltimore, Md.) came on in relief and got a weak grounder back to the mound from Ramsey on his first pitch to strand runners at second and third.

Virginia used a two-out comeback of its own to re-take the lead in the fifth. Grovatt singled to center and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Proscia then pulled a double down the left-field line to score the run.

The Seminoles again came back in their half of the fifth, scoring three times to take their first lead. With one out, McGee singled up the middle and then scored on a double to right-center by Tapley. FSU forged ahead on the next pitch on a bloop single to center by Justin Gonzalez. Boyd followed with a triple off the fence in right-center to push the Seminoles’ lead to 7-5.

UVa slashed the Seminoles’ lead in half in the sixth on a Stephen Bruno (Fr., Audubon, N.J.) two-out pinch-hit single, scoring Reed Gragnani (Fr., Richmond, Va.). The Cavaliers then tied the game in the seventh despite not recording a hit. With one out and runners at first and second, John Hicks (So., Sandy Hook, Va.) hit into a fielder’s choice, but the relay throw to first sailed high for an error, allowing Parker to score from third with the tying run.

Virginia took the lead back in the eighth inning. Gragnani led off with an opposite-field double to left against FSU’s Daniel Bennett. One out later, pinch hitter Chris Taylor (Fr., Virginia Beach, Va.) drew a walk against the new pitcher, Corben Madden. Grovatt then singled sharply to right to load the bases. McGee moved from left field to the mound and got ahead in the count at 0-2 before Proscia lifted a fly ball to shallow center. Shortstop Calvin Cardullo made the catch as he collided with left fielder Sean Gilmartin, and Gragnani scored easily to give UVa the 8-7 lead.

Florida State took the lead for good in its half of the eighth, as Brunelle drew a one-out walk and Holt followed with a home run just over the left-center field wall to push the Seminoles back in front, 9-8.

Virginia returns home at 5 p.m. Tuesday for a rematch with William and Mary, whom the Cavaliers topped 12-6 in an exciting game in Williamsburg last Wednesday. UVa then travels to James Madison for a 6 p.m. contest Wednesday.

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