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May 26, 2012
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) - Artie Lewicki tossed seven shutout innings and Virginia broke open the game with a six-run seventh inning in a 7-0 victory over Florida State, the tournament's top seed, on Saturday afternoon at NewBridge Bank Park.
Both teams had been eliminated from title eligibility before game time. FSU was knocked out on Friday and the Cavaliers' chances ended when Georgia Tech defeated Clemson on Saturday morning. Virginia said it derived motivation from Saturday's 17-5 loss to the Yellow Jackets, however.
"We weren't going to take them lightly," outfielder Colin Harrington said, "and as a team, we had something to prove."
The Seminoles (43-15), who tied an ACC record with 24 regular-season wins in conference play, lost their opener 5-4 and were shocked by a three-run, walk-off home run from a Clemson team they had led throughout Friday's action. They were in this one for six innings before the Cavaliers went to work on a bullpen that replaced starter Mike Compton.
"It's a humbling game," coach Mike Martin said. "I should have probably limped in here. Virginia played extremely well. You have to say that, well, they messed up a good game in the seventh. Everybody was enjoying it and then they put that little six-spot on us. See ya later. But life goes on."
The Cavaliers did it with station-to-station baseball, emerging from the week with a 2-1 record without collecting an extra-base hit. Only one of Saturday's knocks produced multiple runs, a Derek Fisher two-run hit in the seventh.
Virginia has now won 14 of its past 16, and nobody has exemplified the run better than Lewicki, a converted reliever who has now thrown six or more innings in each of his past six starts.
"I have more confidence going with each start," Lewicki said. "I've been able to get quick outs. Pitching to contact really helps a lot."
Both teams turn their focus to NCAA tournament play, which begins next week.
Although it will enter on a three-game losing streak, FSU figures to be a high national seed and a candidate to host every game it would play before the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
"We haven't hit much of a speed bump this year," second baseman Devon Travis said. "We've been rolling and this definitely hurts, but we've got a group of guys in our core who have been through it before. Two years ago, we got swept at Clemson and wound up going to Omaha. Not to say it's good that we lost three games in the ACC Tournament, but for the younger guys, it puts things in perspective."
Virginia, the 2011 ACC champion, has remained nationally viable even though several important players have been high draftees in the past two years. The Cavs, like FSU, are likely to host the first weekend of NCAA play.
"I think today solidified that for us," coach Brian O'Connor said. "If what they say is true and the ACC is the No. 1-ranked conference in the country, then we sure deserve four host sites out of this league. We'll see what happens."