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May 29, 2011
DURHAM, N.C. - Following Friday's deluge, the Atlantic Coast Conference finally caught up Saturday and early Sunday, after 15 plus hours of almost non-stop, rainless baseball at the 2011 ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C.
Pool play ended with a doozy, a 3-2 Virginia win over North Carolina. The Cavaliers were assured of a place in the championship game regardless of the outcome but the two rivals played a tight, fiercely contested game in which neither team ever led by more than a run.
The Tar Heels (45-14) drew first blood in the third. Ben Bunting singled and stole second. Seth Baldwin doubled to deep center field, barely missing a home run. Baldwin was thrown out attempting to stretch the hit into a triple.
Virginia (48-9) answered in the bottom half of the stanza, also with the assistance of a stolen base. Colin Harrington singled, pilfered second and tied the game on a two-out single by Chris Taylor.
The Cavaliers took the lead in a fifth inning that resembled their third. Harrington singled, stole second, went to third on a Reed Gragnani single and scored on a Taylor fly ball. John Barr followed with a double but Kent Emanuel worked out of the jam by retiring John Hicks.
Speedy Tommy Coyle tied it in the sixth, tripling and scoring on a Levi Michael grounder.
Starters Emanuel and Cody Winiarski left after five and six innings respectively, turning the game over to the bullpens.
The Tar Heels had a great opportunity to grab the lead in the top of the seventh. Singles by Jacob Stallings and Bunting knocked out Scott Silverstein. Whit Mayberry came in and a passed ball immediately advanced the runners to second and third, with one out. Mayberry struck out pinch-hitter Greg Holt and Baldwin to keep the game tied.
Pinch hitter David Coleman led off the bottom of the seventh with a double. R.C. Orlan relieved Chris Munnelly (6-5), who suffered the loss. Gragnani hit back to Orlan, who did not have a play at third because third baseman Colin Moran was playing in for a potential bunt. The next batter, Keith Werman, did bunt next and Coleman scored ahead of the throw.
Mayberry continued his dominance, fanning two of the three batters he faced in the eighth and the only batter he faced in the ninth. Mayberry (5-0) struck out five of the six batters he faced and earned the win.
Virginia brought in left-hander Kyle Crockett to face left-handed hitting Chaz Frank. He tried to bunt his way on but was nailed on a close play at first, with Jared King deftly scooping up a short throw from third baseman Steven Proscia.
Virginia went to the bullpen one more time, with ace closer Branden Klein coming in to face Stallings. The Tar Heels' catcher kept the game alive with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Jeff Bouton.
Kline ended the game, striking out Ben Bunting on the ninth pitch of his at-bat.
The save was Kline's 17th of the season.
The win kept Virginia as the tournament's only undefeated team and avenged last weekend's Tar Heel sweep in Chapel Hill.
Virginia will face defending champion Florida State Sunday at 1 p.m. for the title. The Seminoles are making their 10th appearance in the ACC Baseball Championship game while the Cavaliers are in the finals for the third time in four years and sixth time overall. Florida State has five ACC titles to its credit, while Virginia has won two. The Cavaliers claimed the regular season series, winning two of three in Charlottesville.
A total of 5,258 fans attended the game.
Virginia's Chris Taylor goes 1-for-3 and drives in two runs as the Cavaliers beat North Carolina 3-2 in the 279th meeting between the two long-time conference rivals ...Virginia sophomore Whit Mayberry runs his record to 5-0, striking out five in two scoreless innings ... Cavalier stopper Branden Kline makes his 27th appearance of the season and picks up his league-leading 17th save recording the game's final out ... Virginia's 48 wins are the second-most in school history, trailing only last year's 51 victories ... under Brian O'Connor, the Cavaliers are 17-9 (.654) in ACC Tournament play.
ACC Championship Game Appearances
Florida State is making its 10th appearance in the ACC Tournament championship game while Virginia is in the finals for the third time in four years and sixth time overall ... the Seminoles have five ACC titles to their credit (1995, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2010) ... the Cavaliers have won two ACC Tournament titles (1996, 2009), with both tournaments played in Durham.
College World Series
Each of the last five ACC Champions - Florida State (2010), Virginia (2009), Miami (2008), North Carolina (2007), Clemson (2006) - have gone on to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Virginia and Florida State played three times in this past regular season (March 18-20) with all three games being decided by one run and in extra innings ... the Cavaliers proved to be poor hosts, winning the first two games, both in 11 innings, 4-3 and 5-4; the Seminoles came back to win the series finale 12-11 in a mere10 innings.