Towns Walkoff Blast Lifts No. 5 Virginia Past Florida State, 7-4

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM Kenny Towns
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
Kenny Towns
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

May 25, 2013

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DURHAM, N.C. - Kenny Towns (So., Burke, Va.) hit a three-run walk-off home run with one out in the 12th inning to lift the fifth-ranked Virginia baseball team to a 7-4 victory over No. 7 Florida State Saturday in the 2013 ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C. Seeded third in the field, Virginia (47-10) finishes pool play with a 2-1 record, while the second-seeded Seminoles (44-15) went 0-3 in pool play. In hitting UVa's first walkoff homer since Jared Kingon March 19, 2011, against Florida State, Towns drove in four runs on the day and also scored the game-tying run in the eighth inning as Virginia rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the sixth inning. UVa scored its eighth rally from three runs or more down this year. The Cavaliers went 4-0 against FSU this year, marking UVa's most wins in one season against the Seminoles.

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Joe McCarthy(Fr., Scranton, Pa.) went 3-for-5 with a home run to highlight a 13-day for Virginia, which heads into NCAA tournament play with the fourth-most wins in a season in program history.

Virginia improved to 4-0 in extra-inning games this year, while the contest was the Cavaliers' longest by inning and time (4:07) this year. It was UVa's longest game since a four-hour, 36-minute marathon on March 9, 2012, against Virginia Tech. It also marked Virginia's longest game by inning in ACC tournament history.

UVa's Nick Howard(So., Olney, Md.) was credited with the win and improved to 6-4 after tossing a scoreless 12th inning. FSU reliever Jameis Winston (1-2) fired the final 2 1/3 innings and took the loss.

Virginia starting pitcher Whit Mayberry(R-Jr., Alexandria, Va.) worked a season-long 5 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs, four hits and a walk while striking out one. FSU starter Brandon Leibrandt pitched five innings, giving up an earned run, six hits and one walk while fanning four.

Florida State scored first with a third-inning run. Seth Miller was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and Giovanny Alfonzo followed with a single, with Miller moving to third, while Alfonzo went to second on the throw to third. John Sansone laid down a squeeze bunt, but it went right back to Mayberry, who flipped home to get the out on Miller. Josh Delph followed with a grounder in the hole at second, with UVa getting the force at second but nothing more, as Alfonzo crossed the plate for a 1-0 lead.

Virginia knotted the score in the bottom of the inning on a two-out solo home run to right field by McCarthy. It was the fourth blast of the year for the ACC Freshman of the Year.

FSU forged ahead with three runs in the sixth inning. Mayberry walked Delph to start the inning, and DJ Stewart followed with a single to right-center, moving Delph to third. Marcus Davis grounded out to shortstop to bring Delph home. Austin Young (Jr., Mechanicsville, Va.) entered the game and walked Stephen McGee before inducing a popout from John Nogowski. Nathan Kirby(Fr., Richmond, Va.) came in and gave up a two-run double to Casey Smit on a 3-2 pitch as FSU took a 4-1 advantage.

UVa responded with a pair of runs in its half of the sixth. Derek Fisher (So., Rexmont, Pa.) drew a leadoff walk from reliever Bryant Holtman, who then went 3-1 against Reed Gragnani(Sr., Richmond, Va.) before a pitching change. Gage Smith took the count to 3-2 before Gragnani lined a single to center and when center fielder Brett Knief misplayed the ball, Fisher came all the way around to score while Gragnani landed on third. One out later Towns grounded out to bring Gragnani home and cut the deficit to 4-3.

The Cavaliers hustled their way to the game-tying run in the eighth. With one out Towns drew a walk. One out later Mike Papi(So., Tunkhannock, Pa.) lined a single to right field, and Towns never stopped running as FSU was slow to return the ball to the infield and he slid in just before the tag at the plate to tie the game at 4-4.

UVa took its first lead in the 12th inning. Fisher drew a leadoff walk and advanced on a Winston wild pitch. Gragnani was intentionally walked, and Howard followed with a flyout to center. Towns ripped the 1-0 pitch high over the Blue Monster in left field for his second home run of the tournament and his seven homer of the year. Towns had a team-high six RBI in the tournament.

Virginia now will await its NCAA tournament fate. The 16 NCAA regional host sites will be announced at approximately 9 p.m. Sunday, while the field of 64 will be unveiled at noon Monday on ESPNU.