Cavaliers Score Six in Ninth to Shock Florida State, 9-8
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Down five runs with one out in the ninth inning Saturday night, the Virginia baseball team staged an incredible rally and scored six times to shock Florida State, 9-8, at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. Keith Werman (So., Vienna, Va.) supplied the eventual game-winning hit – a two-out, bases-loaded single to left-center which scored John Hicks (So., Sandy Hook, Va.) and Reed Gragnani (Fr., Richmond, Va.).
With the victory, Virginia clinched its first-ever series win – home or away – over Florida State. UVa shut out the Seminoles, 5-0, Friday night.
The teams will play the final game of the series at 1 p.m. Sunday. The game will be televised live on Sun Sports, and the broadcast also will be picked up by Fox College Sports.
Both teams are ranked nationally among the top five. Virginia (12-2, 2-0 ACC) is ranked as high as No. 1 in the Baseball America and Rivals.com polls, while Florida State (12-2, 0-2) stands as high as No. 2 nationally in the Collegiate Baseball, NCBWA and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls.
Virginia finished with 13 hits. Phil Gosselin (Jr., West Chester, Pa.), Tyler Cannon (Sr., Pigeon Forge, Tenn.), Steven Proscia (So., Suffern, N.Y.) and Kenny Swab (Jr., Kernersville, N.C.) each recorded a pair of hits for Virginia.
Dan Grovatt (Jr., Tabernacle, N.J.) was credited with his first career win (1-0) after pitching the eighth inning. Kevin Arico (Jr., Flemington, N.J.) tossed a scoreless ninth inning to notch his fifth save in as many tries. Virginia starting pitcher Robert Morey (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) worked five innings, giving up five runs (three earned), seven hits and three walks while striking out six.
Florida State reliever Andrew Durden (0-1), the third of four FSU pitchers to take the mound in the ninth inning, took the loss after giving up a pair of runs and failing to retire any of the three batters he faced. FSU starter John Gast pitched four innings, allowing two earned runs, five hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
Virginia sent a dozen batters to the plate in its six-run ninth. The inning started when first baseman Jayce Boyd booted Werman’s sharp ground ball after a pitch from closer Daniel Bennett. One out later Cannon walked and Grovatt followed with a single to left to load the bases. Proscia followed with a run-scoring single. Bennett was lifted in favor of Tye Buckley, who uncorked a wild pitch on his first offering, scoring Cannon. A Jarrett Parker (Jr., Stafford, Va.) groundout scored Grovatt and moved Proscia to third. Durden was brought in to face Hicks, who drew a walk. Gragnani ripped the next pitch back up the middle and off Durden’s leg for an infield single, scoring Proscia to cut the lead to 8-7.
Franco Valdes (Sr., Miami, Fla.) then fell behind 0-2 and was a strike away from ending the game, but he took four straight balls to draw a walk. FSU then brought on Tyler Everett to face Werman, who slapped a 2-1 pitch the other way into left-center to score Hicks and Gragnani and give the Cavaliers their first lead of the day, 9-8. The comeback was reminiscent of one from the 2009 season, where UVa scored sixth in the ninth to rally and win at Georgia Tech, 11-10; in that game, Werman hit the go-ahead single to score Hicks.
Arico entered in the ninth and gave up a one-out single to Justin Gonzalez. Pinch hitter Sean Gilmartin then hit a grounder to Cannon at shortstop – he flipped to Werman for the force at second, but Werman’s throw to first slipped out of his hand and sailed well over Hicks at first. Gilmartin rounded first and started to head to second on the play, but threw on the brakes when the ball quickly bounced to Hicks, who threw the ball back to Werman, who then tossed it back to Valdes, who moved up from behind the plate to cover the bag and tagged out a sliding Gilmartin easily at first to end the game.
Florida State got off to a quick start and took advantage of Virginia miscues in scoring three times in the first inning. Tyler Holt led off with a double and was sacrificed to third by James Ramsey. Stephen Cardullo then hit a chopper to Proscia at third. He initially bobbled the ball, forcing him to throw to first instead of home, but the throw was dropped at first by Swab for an error. Mike McGee then doubled to right-center to score Cardullo. A passed ball by Hicks moved McGee to third, and Stuart Tapley hit a sacrifice fly to center to score the run and give FSU the 3-0 lead.
Morey escaped further damage in the second inning. After Gonzalez reached on a leadoff single and Rafael Lopez walked, Jayce Boyd laid down a sacrifice bunt. Morey, facing the top of the batting order, rebounded to strike out Holt and Ramsey.
Virginia got two runs back in the third inning, stringing four-consecutive hits together to cut into the lead. Swab led off with a single to center. Stephen Bruno (Fr., Audubon, N.J.) then ripped a 3-2 Gast offering high off the center-field wall, moving Swab to third. Gosselin hit a single to center to score Swab, and Cannon followed with another single to center to plate Bruno and cut the lead to 3-2.
FSU struck back with two runs in its half of the third. Cardullo and McGee drew back-to-back walks to start the inning. One out later, Sherman Johnson singled to center to score Cardullo and move McGee to third. Gonzalez then put down a squeeze bunt to score McGee and stretch the lead back to three, 5-2.
Florida State has opportunities to add to the lead in the fourth and fifth inning, but in both instances Morey was able to wiggle out of the jam. In the fourth, he struck out Tapley looking with the bases loaded and two out. In the fifth, Holt hit a rocket to Gosselin at second, who was positioned perfectly up the middle to stab the hot shot. He then made an off-balance throw to first to get Holt by a half-step and strand runners at second and third.
The Cavaliers touched up Busch for a run in the seventh inning. Gosselin led off with a double to right-center and advanced to third on a single to left by Cannon. Grovatt then launched a fly ball to right-center, which Ramsey caught with his back against the wall, scoring Gosselin.
The Seminoles again answered in their half of the seventh. Tapley walked to lead off and was replaced by pinch runner Ohmed Danesh, who stole second. One out later, Gonzalez doubled to right-center to score Danesh.
FSU added a pair of runs in the eighth inning on a two-run home run to right field off Grovatt, who had just moved from right field to the mound.