Virginia Downs UNC, Advances to ACC Championship Game
DURHAM, N.C. – The Virginia baseball team used strong pitching and defense as well as timely hitting to defeat North Carolina, 3-2, Saturday evening at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in the final game of pool play at the ACC Baseball Championship. Virginia concluded pool play with a 3-0 record and was the only team in the field to complete pool play with an unblemished mark.
Earlier in the day the Cavaliers clinched a berth in the ACC Championship Game. Virginia will play second-seeded Florida State for the championship at 1 p.m. Sunday. The game will be televised live by the ACC’s Regional Sports Networks (Comcast Mid-Atlantic, FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Florida and Sun Sports).
Virginia will be aiming for its third ACC tournament title (1996, 2009). Ironically, both championships came at Durham Bulls Athletic Park against Florida State.
Virginia (48-9) is the top seed in the 2011 tournament, while North Carolina (45-14) is the No. 4 seed. This Virginia team now has won the third-most games in program history. Only the 2010 (51) and 2009 (49) teams have won more games.
Virginia’s pitching was superb Saturday, as five pitchers combined to scatter eight hits and strike out 10. Whit Mayberry (So., Alexandria, Va.) earned the win and improved to 5-0 with two dominating innings of work. He faced six batters and struck out five. Branden Kline (Jr., Frederick, Md.) got the game’s final out to notch his 17th save, which is one shy of the school and ACC single-season records.
North Carolina reliever Chris Munnelly (6-5) was saddled with the loss after giving up the go-ahead run in the seventh inning.
Virginia starting pitcher Cody Winiarski (Sr., Franksville, Wis.) worked 6.0 innings, allowing two runs, five hits and a walk while striking out three. UNC starter Kent Emanuel pitched 5.0 innings, allowing two runs and four hits with four strikeouts.
UVa finished with seven hits, all coming from different players. Chris Taylor (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) picked up a pair of RBI, while Colin Harrington (So., Johnstown, Pa.) scored two of the Cavaliers’ three runs.
UNC scored first in the third inning, as Ben Bunting was hit by the opening pitch of the inning, then stole second and came home one out later on a Seth Baldwin double to center. Baldwin was thrown out attempting to stretch his double to a triple on a great relay from Reed Gragnani (So., Richmond, Va.) to Taylor to Steven Proscia (Jr., Suffern, N.Y.).
Virginia knotted the score in its half of the third. Harrington led off with a single. With two outs he stole second base and scored on a Taylor single to left.
UVa moved ahead in the fifth inning. Harrington was hit by a pitch to start the inning and again stole second. He advanced to third on a sharp Gragnani single to left and scored one out later on a sacrifice fly by Taylor.
The Tar Heels came back in the next half inning as Tommy Coyle legged out a leadoff triple to center field and scored on a groundout by Levi Michael.
After Mayberry stranded runners at second and third in the seventh inning by striking out the final two batters, Virginia took the lead in the bottom of the frame. David Coleman (Sr., Richmond, Va.) led off with a double against Munnelly and moved to third when Gragnani chopped a ball slowly back toward the mound. Reliever R.C. Orland attempted to go to third, but no one was covering the bag, and all hands were safe. Keith Werman (Jr., Vienna, Va.) then laid a bunt down the first-base line. Orlan went home with the throw but could not nab a sliding Coleman as UVa grabbed the 3-2 lead.