Homers, Hultzen power ‘Hoos past FSU for ACC title

The Virginia baseball team won the 2011 ACC Championship with a 7-2 victory over Florida State Sunday afternoon at Durham Bulls Athletic Park at the ACC Baseball Championship. Virginia went unbeaten in the tournament (4-0) and defeated three top-20 foes (Miami, North Carolina, Florida State) en route to the title and the ACC’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.

Virginia captured its third ACC tournament title (1996, 2009, 2011). Ironically, all three championships have come at Durham Bulls Athletic Park against Florida State. Virginia now has won 11-consecutive games at DBAP.

“I am obviously extremely happy for our ball club,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “Florida State has a tremendous team. The fact that we won the conference championship of the toughest conference in the country and went 4-0 in the tournament and still don’t have 10 losses on the season is something that shows that these players come to play every day. There are multiple guys who stepped up for this team today. It was a collective team effort, and I am proud of them because a championship like this is something that they will always remember.”

The game was a matchup of the tournament’s top two seeds – No. 1 Virginia (49-9) and No. 2 FSU (42-17). With its 49th victory this year, Virginia tied the 2009 squad for the second-most wins in program history. The 2010 team holds the record with 51 wins.

Virginia matched a season high by hitting three home runs, which led to all seven runs. UVa also smacked three homers on March 16 against James Madison. Tournament Most Valuable Player Steven Proscia (Jr., Suffern, N.Y.) hit the go-ahead three-run home run in the sixth inning, while John Hicks (Jr., Sandy Hook, Va.) and Chris Taylor (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) each ripped two-run blasts.

Taylor and Kenny Swab (Sr., Kernersville, N.C.) joined Proscia on the all-tournament team.

UVa starting pitcher Danny Hultzen (Jr., Bethesda, Md.) worked 6.0 innings, allowing two earned runs, six hits and a walk while striking out five. He earned the win to improve to 10-3 this year while also recording his school-record 30th career win. Senior Tyler Wilson (Midlothian, Va.) recorded the final four outs, including a strikeout of Mike McGee to seal the championship.

Florida State starting pitcher Hunter Scantling (3-2) rolled through 5.2 innings before Proscia’s three-run blast in the sixth. In all, he allowed five earned runs and five hits while striking out three.

Florida State jumped on Hultzen quickly in the first inning. Devon Travis hit Hultzen’s first pitch off the Blue Monster in left-center field for a double. He moved to third on a groundout, then scored on a grounder to third base, as Proscia’s throw to the plate sailed wide.

Virginia responded in its half of the first. With one out John Barr (Sr., Ivyland, Pa.) singled to left. On the next pitch Hicks hit a towering home run over the Blue Monster in left field. It was his sixth home run of the year.

Both pitchers put zeroes on the scoreboard until an eventful sixth inning. With two outs in the top of the inning, Justin Gonzalez launched a solo home run to center to tie the game. It marked just the third home run Hultzen has surrendered this season.

UVa answered in the bottom of the inning with a two-out rally, as Barr was hit by a pitch, Hicks singled to right and Proscia cracked a three-run blast over the Blue Monster in left-center to give the Wahoos a 5-2 lead. The long ball was Proscia’s team-high seventh of the year. The career leader in RBI at Virginia, Proscia now has a team-high 53 RBI this year and 176 in his career.

The Cavaliers used the long ball once again to pad their lead in the seventh inning. Jared King (Jr., Radford, Va.) walked with one out, moved to second on a Keith Werman (Jr., Vienna, Va.) sacrifice bunt and scored when Taylor crushed a home run to left-center field – his second homer of the year.

Virginia was named one of 16 host institutions for the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon. The Cavaliers will learn the three teams which will join them at Davenport Field at 12:30 p.m. Monday when the entire 64-team field is announced on ESPN. The regional will run June 3-6.


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