DURHAM — While they didn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, the two early games played on Saturday at the ACC baseball tournament brought some excitement and more surprise.
Florida State, who came into the tournament as the No. 3 seed, dropped their final contest to Virginia, 7-4, in 12 innings after seemingly having the Cavaliers beaten heading into the eighth inning. That game was followed by a convincing win by Miami, a team that needed a positive after dropping their first two games by a combined total of 17-1 to North Carolina and N.C. State.
Can we have a do-over?: Florida State finished the tournament 0-3 as the No. 3 seed heading in. The Seminoles nearly had the win clinched, but a gutsy base running move, Virginia’s Kenny Towns caught the Noles off guard and came home to tie the game at 4.
After FSU dropped their second straight game in walk-off fashion and lost all three games in the eighth inning or later, coach Mike Martin compared it to a trip that he fondly remembers.
“This was a fun week – reminded me of that trip I took to Afghanistan for vacation,” Martin joked.
The Noles have dropped their last seven games in the ACC baseball tournament dating back to their loss in the championship game in 2011.
“Our season begins Friday night,” Martin said following his team’s second straight 0-3 record at the tournament. “That’s the bottom line … We’ll be ready to go on Friday night, whoever it is, wherever we play.”
Night out on the towns: Virginia’s Kenny Towns was the star late in the game to tie and clinch the win against Florida State.
The sophomore infielder entered the game hitting just .280 and batting in the No. 8 spot for the Cavaliers, but scored from first on a surprise play in the eighth inning to send the game to extra innings and hit a three-run blast over the Blue Monster in the 12th.
“When I was rounding second, I was being waved pretty hard the whole time, so when I got to third I kept going,” Towns said of his eighth inning run. “I didn’t know if something maybe happened in right field, so I wasn’t too shocked (to be waved home).”
The walk-off homer was the first for a Virginia player since Jared King hit one on March 19, 2011 – which also came against the Seminoles.
“I was just thinking that I needed to barrel the ball up,” Towns said. “So all I was doing was staying short with my swing.”
Free baseball: If there is one thing Virginia has done well all season, it’s winning games in dramatic fashion. With the 7-3 victory over Florida State in the 12th inning, the Cavaliers moved to 4-0 on the season in extra-inning games.
The win was also UVA’s 20th comeback victory of the year and their eighth comeback after being down by three or more runs.
Hurricanes find their offense (and pitching): Following two straight drubbings at the hands of North Carolina – a 10-0 mercy rule in the eighth inning – and N.C. State, 7-1, Miami opened with an offensive surge, scoring three runs against Clemson in the first two innings and ran away with a 7-0 win over the Tigers.
The shutout was also a welcomed sight after coach Jim Morris was rushed to Duke University Hospital during the team’s batting practice session, forcing him to sit out of the game with an undisclosed illness.
“It was tough circumstances for coach Morris and our kids,” assistant coach Gino DiMare said. “We understand what’s at stake and understand the streak that we have going … we want to make sure that we’re playing good and give ourselves a chance to continue the streak of making the playoffs.”