DURHAM, N.C. — Virginia’s long wait for an ACC baseball title is over, thanks to a clutch hit from a fresh-man.
John Hicks’ two-run single keyed a three-run ninth inning that lifted Virginia past Florida State 6-3 on Sunday in the ACC championship game.
“This team has battled all year long and has felt like they have had to prove something, maybe, because of our youth,” coach Brian O’Connor said. “This is not a young team any-more. We’ve proven time and time again that we can step up and battle with anybody and win a game.”
Steven Proscia and Franco Valdes each added RBIs for the sixth-seeded Cavaliers (43-12-1). They went 3-0 in round-robin play to reach the title game for the second consecutive year, then won it for the first time since 1996 and claimed the league’s auto-matic berth in the NCAA tourna-ment.
“Now we have proven to our-selves what we are capable of doing in this program,” O’Connor said.
Virginia loaded the bases with one out in the ninth off Sean Gilmar-tin when Hicks’ single got past a div-ing Stephen Cardullo to bring home Phil Gosselin and Danny Hultzen and break a 3-3 tie.
Dan Grovatt advanced from first to third and Hicks made it to second, prompting Florida State coach Mike Martin to replace Gilmartin with Jimmy Marshall. Grovatt later scored on a passed ball.
Closer Kevin Arico struck out the side in the ninth for Virginia.
Winning pitcher Tyler Wilson (8-3) allowed one hit in two scoreless innings with two strikeouts for the Cavaliers. Gilmartin (11-3) retired only one of the five hitters he faced in the ninth.
Jason Stidham homered and drove in three runs for the Seminoles (42-16). The tournament’s No. 1 seed was playing in its first title game since winning it in 2004 but fell to 4-4 in those games.
Florida State was awarded one of the NCAA’s 16 host sites for the four-team regional tournaments that begin later this week.
“We’re obviously disappointed, but we’re also very excited about the fact that we will be hosting next week,” Martin said.
Virginia’s rally came an inning af-ter Florida State had a chance to re-gain the lead. The Seminoles loaded the bases with one out in the eighth before Wilson struck out pinch-hitter Tommy Oravetz and got Jack Posey to fly out.
“The kid has big guts,” O’Connor said of Wilson. “I would have had to pry the ball out of his hand to take him out of that situation.”
Stidham’s two-run shot in the first put Florida State up 2-0, and his RBI single in the third pushed the Semi-noles’ lead to 3-1.
Proscia had an RBI double in the second and Valdes had a run-scoring single in the fourth for Virginia.