Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 26, 2013

Va. Tech to play for ACC baseball title today

Wire reports
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

DURHAM, N.C. — Virginia Tech will play this afternoon for the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament championship. Virginia will begin its wait for the NCAA tournament selection show.

The Hokies (38-19) will play either top-seeded North Carolina or North Carolina State today at 1 p.m. at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Tar Heels and Wolfpack faced off against each other on Saturday night to determine the winner of their tournament pool.

On Friday, sixth seed Virginia Tech clinched their spot in the championship, going 3-0 in pool play with a dramatic 3-2 win against defending champion Georgia Tech (34-25).

Chad Pinder followed up a home run with a long sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, scoring Kyle Wernicki with what proved to be the game-winning run. Relief pitcher Clark Labitan retired the last four Georgia Tech batters in order.

“We came here to win a championship,” Virginia Tech coach Pete Hughes said in an interview on the ACC website. “I thought we were in a bear of a pool and these guys go 3-0. N.C. State and North Carolina are great teams, but you tell me a hotter team in the country.”

On Saturday, Virginia (47-10) and Florida State (44-15) battled into the 12th inning. The Cavaliers’ Kenny Towns knocked a three-run homer over the Blue Monster in the Durham Park for a 7-4 win over the Seminoles — who are winless in their last seven ACC tourney games.

“I was just thinking to get the barrel of the bat on it and he would do the work,” Towns said of his approach to the Seminoles’ hard-throwing Jameis Winston. “The pitch was pretty much right down the middle.”

Florida State led 4-1 in the sixth inning. Towns forced extra innings by tying the game 4-4 in the eighth, scoring from first on a single to right by leadoff man Mike Papi, the ACC’s leading hitter.

“Maybe we dropped our guard for a second,” said Florida State coach Mike Martin. “It was an aggressive, smart move.”

Virginia Tech upset third-seeded Virginia 10-1 on Wednesday and beat No. 2 seed Florida State 3-2 Thursday en route to an undefeated march through pool play.

Virginia finished 2-1 in pool play. The Cavaliers are expected to receive a high berth in the national playoff field of 64 when the NCAA releases its brackets on Monday at noon. The ACC champ will qualify automatically.

The NCAA tournament begins June 15 in Omaha, Neb.