Greensboro, N.C. – For all of its recent success, the Virginia baseball program is walking on new turf this week as the ACC Tournament’s top seed. The nominal underdogs from Boston College turned that into a relatively arduous trek before a three-run eighth inning elevated the Cavaliers to a 6-4 victory in the 2010 ACC Baseball Championship’s opening game Wednesday.
The Cavs (46-10), who were last the No. 1 seed a quarter-century ago, prevailed when Jarrett Parker delivered a two-out, bases-loaded single to snap a 4-4 tie in the eighth. The uprising matched BC’s three-run seventh, which had given the Eagles a brief 4-3 edge, and successfully began UVa’s quest to repeat its 2009 conference title.
“Winning this tournament is harder than winning an NCAA regional,” said Virginia coach Brian O’Connor, whose club did both a year ago. “There are no upsets this week.”
The Eagles, who dropped eight of their final 10 regular-season ACC games, made UVa work for everything it got. Starter Pat Dean held the Cavaliers to two hits – both home runs – through seven innings but was lifted thereafter because his pitch count had reached a season-high 111.
“He hadn’t been there in a while,” BC coach Mik Aoki said. “We had limited him to 90 to 100, but we obviously extended him a bit with the stakes this high.”
Virginia needed its rally to equal its season low for base knocks in a game. That was a five-hit effort at East Carolina back on Feb. 19, the season’s second contest.
The Eagles broke through against Cavalier starter Cody Winiarsky in the seventh, tying the game at 3-3 on John Spatola’s two-run homer, his 16th long ball of the season. Mike Sudol, who had delivered the Eagles’ first run with a second-inning sacrifice fly, doubled to right to score Anthony Melchionda and put BC up 4-3.
UVa got going in the eighth when Tyler Cannon singled to score Stephen Bruno, who walked, to even the score at 4-4. Dan Grovatt walked to load the bases and Eagle reliever Matt Brazis got a big second out when he fanned Steven Proscia, but Parker, the only Cavalier to play in all 56 games this season, drilled one up the middle to put UVa ahead for good. Boston College threatened with two outs in the ninth and had the tying runs in scoring position after a passed ball on Cavalier catcher Franco Valdes. Closer Kevin Arica ended the game and earned his 16th save of the year by fanning freshman catcher Matt Watson on a nasty slider.
“He got us out, and he didn’t have to throw a strike,” Aoki said. “But that’s what he does. The dude’s pretty good.”
The Cavaliers, who have won 17 of their past 18 games, play Miami at 4 p.m. Thursday. The Eagles (29-27) face Florida State at noon Thursday.
2010 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship NewBridge Bank Park — Greensboro, N.C. Wednesday, May 26, 2010 Game 1: Boston College vs. Virginia Postgame Notes
Virginia (46-10, 23-7 ACC) … …improves to 46-10 overall and 44-62 in the ACC Championship. …is 13-8 in the championship under head coach Brian O’Connor (seventh season). …is 4-0 against Boston College this season. …played the Eagles in the ACC Championship for the first time. …has out-scored Boston College 22-9 this season. …has won four consecutive games in the ACC Championship. …is the top seed in the championship for the first time since 1985. …junior righthander Tyler Wilson earned the win to improve to 7-3; earned his third win in as many appearances. …Virginia junior righthander Cody Winiarski started for the Cavaliers; retired 10 consecutive batters beginning with the second out of the third inning to the first out of the sixth inning; struck out two batters in each of the first and fourth innings. …junior righthander Kevin Arico earned his 16th save of the season. …senior shortstop Tyler Cannon played in his school-record 235th career game. …has hit two home runs in three of its last six games and four of its last eight. …junior second baseman Phil Gosselin led off the game for the Cavaliers with a walk and has reached base to lead off a game 21 times this season. …1-2-3 hitters went 4-for-9 with four runs batted-in and five runs scored. …4-5-6 hitters went 1-for-12 with two RBI.
Boston College (29-27, 14-16 ACC)… …falls to 29-26 overall and 2-2 in the ACC Championship. …played Virginia in the ACC Championship for the first time. …scored four runs against the Cavaliers after tallying five runs in a three-game series (Mar. 19-21) …sophomore righthander Tyler Lasko took the loss to fall to 4-2. …junior lefthander Pat Dean started, but did not receive a decision; retired eight straight batters beginning with the second out in the third inning to the third out in the fifth inning. …is making its second straight appearance in the championship. …has hit a home run in 21 of its last 22 games.
Other notes: The first game of the 2010 ACC Baseball Championship was the 500th game in tournament history.