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April 21, 2013

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The seventh-ranked Virginia baseball team finished off a three-game series sweep of fifth-ranked Florida State with a 5-2 victory Sunday afternoon in front of a capacity crowd at Davenport Field. Virginia (35-6, 16-5) outscored the Seminoles 16-4 and did not trail in the series in recording the program’s first-ever three-game series sweep against FSU (31-9, 13-8).

Virginia drew 13,890 fans for the series, a program record for a three-game series. Sellout crowds of 4,980 attended each of the final two games this weekend.

Virginia’s pitching again was outstanding Sunday as Nick Howard (So., Olney, Md.) and three relievers scattered six hits and four walks. In the series, UVa hurlers gave up just three earned runs, 14 hits and 10 walks while striking out 19. All three Virginia starters worked at least six innings.

After laboring with his control in the first two innings, Howard (5-3) put together a strong start of 6 2/3 innings. He gave up a run, five hits and three walks while fanning four. Kyle Crockett (Jr., Poquoson, Va.) struck out four over the final two innings to earn his ninth save. Crockett also singled in the eighth inning in his first college at bat and later scored.

FSU starter Scott Sitz (7-1) took the loss after allowing four earned runs, five hits and two walks while striking out three. He entered the game with a 1.04 ERA and had allowed just six earned runs all year.

Jared King (R-Sr., Radford, Va.) went 3-for-4 Sunday and had the key hit of the game for Virginia, a two-run double in the third inning which helped to clear the bases and break a scoreless tie.

FSU had chances to move out in front early, but Howard battled through his control problems to hold the Seminoles scoreless in the first two innings. He got Jameis Winston to fly out to end the first inning and leave the bases loaded, and struck out DJ Stewart to strand runners at first and second base in the second inning.

The Cavaliers did most of their damage on offense in the third inning, scoring four times to bolt to a 4-0 lead. Reed Gragnani (Sr., Richmond, Va.) drew a leadoff walk, and Kenny Towns (So., Burke, Va.) singled to right. After Nate Irving (So., Yonkers, N.Y.) sacrificed, Branden Cogswell (So., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) was intentionally walked to load the bases. King responded by lofting a double to right field; Winston misplayed the ball for an error to compound matters, and all three runners scored, with King advancing to third. Joe McCarthy (Fr., Scranton, Pa.) hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right-center field to score King and push the lead to 4-0.

FSU needed just two pitches in the fourth inning to get a run back. Winston tripled on Howard’s first pitch of the inning, and Casey Smit hit a sacrifice fly to right field on the next offering to bring in the run.

The Seminoles cashed in on a Virginia error to pull within 4-2 in the seventh inning. With two outs Stewart drew a walk against UVa reliever Nathan Kirby (Fr., Midlothian, Va.). Marcus Davis then lashed a single to left, and when the ball went under the glove of left fielder Derek Fisher (So., Rexmont, Pa.) and rolled all the way to the wall, Stewart came around to score.

Virginia added an insurance run in the eighth inning. King led off with a single and moved to second when Crockett hit a 2-2 Robby Coles offering back up the middle for a single for his first career hit. King was erased at third on a fielder’s choice by Brandon Downes (So., South Plainfield, N.J.), but Mike Papi (So., Tunkhannock, Pa.) cranked a single to right to score Crockett and give UVa a 5-2 advantage.

The Cavaliers play two home midweek games this week, taking on Richmond (Tuesday) and James Madison (Wednesday) in 6 p.m. contests at Davenport Field. UVa heads to Blacksburg next weekend to take on Virginia Tech in a three-game ACC series.

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