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The Hokies put away second-seeded Florida State on Mark Zagunis' ninth-inning home run Thursday.
DAVE KNACHEL | Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech players crowd around Mark Zagunis, who hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against Florida State on Thursday in the ACC tournament.
Friday, May 24, 2013
DURHAM, N.C. — After knocking off a top-10 team for the second straight day, the Virginia Tech baseball team is one win away from advancing to the title game of the ACC baseball tournament.
Mark Zagunis hit a solo homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth to give the sixth-seeded and 21st-ranked Hokies a 3-2 win over second-seeded and seventh-ranked Florida State on Thursday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
“What a phenomenal college baseball game,” Tech coach Pete Hughes said. “That’s as good as it gets.
“It was won in the most exciting way possible.”
Zagunis jumped on home plate after his walkoff homer and was mobbed by his waiting teammates. A few minutes later, two teammates dumped a cooler of water on him.
The sophomore said it was the biggest hit of his career.
“It was the greatest feeling in the world, jogging around the bases,” Zagunis said. “I just wanted to keep going.”
Virginia Tech (37-19) can clinch a berth in Sunday’s final by beating Georgia Tech (34-24) at 3 p.m. today. Seventh-seeded Georgia Tech won the regular-season series, winning two of three in Blacksburg in March.
The Hokies are 2-0 in pool play in this tournament. The other teams in Pool B are Virginia (1-1), Georgia Tech (1-1) and FSU (0-2).
Virginia Tech beat UVa, seeded third in the tournament and ranked fifth nationally by Baseball America, 10-1 on Wednesday.
The Hokies won their regular-season series with both UVa and FSU.
“We were confident coming into the ACC tournament,” Virginia Tech catcher Chad Morgan said. “Playing UVa and FSU, we liked our matchups. I think we turned some heads out there, but we were confident.”
Hughes had been planning to start Devin Burke against FSU (44-14) but changed his mind and opted for Brad Markey, who had beaten FSU in the regular season.
It was a good call. Markey and All-ACC second-team pick Luke Weaver of FSU hooked up in a pitchers’ duel Thursday, with neither team scoring through six innings.
The Hokies grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Tyler Horan hit an infield single and scored on an RBI triple by Zagunis. A sacrifice fly by Andrew Rash brought home Zagunis and ended Weaver’s night.
The Seminoles threatened in the top of the eighth, but Markey struck out Marcus Davis with men on first and third to get out of the jam.
Tech tried to extend its lead in the bottom of the eighth, but Seminoles right fielder Jameis Winston — the front-runner to succeed E.J. Manuel as the quarterback of the football team — threw out Sean Keselica at home.
FSU tied the score with two runs in the ninth. After Stephen McGee doubled and scored on a Casey Smit double, Hughes pulled Markey in favor of Clark Labitan. But Labitan served up an RBI single to pinch hitter Josh Delph.
In the bottom of the inning, FSU reliever Gage Smith allowed Zagunis’ homer over the left-field fence.
“I was just looking for a fastball I could drive,” Zagunis said. “He left it up, right down the middle.”
Markey, who was clocked at 92 mph, tied his career high with 10 strikeouts. He allowed six hits and one walk in 8 1⁄ 3 innings.
“We started showing different pitches in different counts because we really wanted to keep them off balance,” Markey said.
“Boy oh boy did Brad pitch beautifully,” FSU coach Mike Martin said.
Weaver, who was clocked at 95 mph, struck out nine and allowed five hits and one walk in 6 1⁄ 3 innings.
The Hokies are 12-1 since Hughes improved his defense by moving All-ACC pick Chad Pinder from third base to shortstop and shifting error-prone Alex Perez from shortstop to second base. Pinder made three impressive plays Thursday.
Florida State 000 000 002 — 2 7 0
Virginia Tech 000 000 201 — 3 8 0
Weaver, Smith and McGee; Markey, Labitan and Morgan. W— Labitan (2-5). L— Smith (4-1). HR— VT: Zagunis (9).
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