DURHAM, N.C.—Kevin Arico froze Stephen Cardullo with a fastball over the outside corner, then spiked his glove into the ground and let out a yell. Within seconds, Arico was mobbed by Virginia teammates in a jubilant dog-pile. Virginia had completed a perfect 4-0 run to the ACC tournament championship with a 6-3 win against Florida State.
The press corps expected a meager crowd for the title game after North Carolina and Clemson were eliminated, but I was very impressed with the boisterous, rather large crowd on hand to see UVa. and Florida State. The Cavaliers, in particular, traveled very well and were quite loud all day.
The fans were treated to an excellent game, as Virginia took advantage of two FSU errors and a passed ball to break a 3-3 tie with three runs in the eighth. Virginia’s bullpen was outstanding in relief of starter Andrew Carraway, as Matt Packer, Tyler Wilson and Arico combined to allow just four hits over 6 1/3 shutout innings.
Virginia will not be hosting a regional, but this team looks entirely capable of breaking through and winning a regional on the road. The Cavaliers are strong in all phases of the game, and their bullpen has really solidified down the stretch, addressing a significant concern earlier in the year. Don’t be shocked if UVa. earns a No. 1 seed in Louisville or Greenville after winning the ACC tournament.
Some other teams that won automatic bids today:
• Louisiana State got a stellar outing from Ryan Byrd (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) to beat Vanderbilt to claim its second consecutive SEC tournament title. The Tigers will be a top contender for the No. 1 overall seed, along with Texas.
• Speaking of the Longhorns, they followed LSU’s lead in adding a conference tournament championship to their Big 12 regular-season title. Texas rolled over Missouri 12-7 behind four RBIs from Cameron Rupp.
• Wright State won a classic against rival Illinois-Chicago, scoring four runs in the 12th inning to win 6-2 and claim the Horizon League title. The Raiders got heroic pitching efforts from starter Alex Kaminsky (5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R) and reliever Michael Schum (6.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER).
• Preseason favorite Southern out-slugged Alcorn State 12-10 to win the SWAC championship.
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