Virginia Knocks Tigers Out of ACC Tournament


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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Virginia first baseman Sean Doolittle threw 3 1/3 innings of effective relief pitching and send the Cavaliers to the championship game following a 5-4 win over Clemson on Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Tournament at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.


Virginia (41-17) won its third successive game of the tournament and will make its first appearance in an ACC Tournament final since 1996. The Cavaliers won their only league title that year with a 12-1 win over Florida State in the tournament held at Durham, N.C..


Virginia's only other championship game appearance was in 1982 when it lost a 3-2 decision to North Carolina.


Clemson fell to 39-21 and now awaits word on Sunday to learn if it is one 16 teams selected to host an NCAA regional starting next week.


Doolittle, who has the team's second highest batting average among regulars with a .327 mark, made his 20th relief appearance of the year. He allowed four hits, struck out five and did not issue any walks. His consecutive scoreless streak of 28 2/3 innings was halted in the eighth inning when Clemson starting pitcher Kris Harvey connected for his 22nd home run of the year. Doolittle got credit for the win, improving his mark to 3-0 on the year.


Virginia jumped on Harvey for four runs on six hits and a pair of walks in the first three innings, keyed by Scott Headd's bloop single into short right field that brought home two runs in the third inning. Tom Hagan followed Headd's hit with a solid single up the middle to bring home the third run of the inning.


The Cavaliers scored what proved to be the winning run in the sixth when Mike Campagna was credited with a single but ended up on third as Clemson shortstop Stan Widman's throw to first sailed into the dugout. Two batters later, Tim Henry lofted a fly ball to centerfield to score Campagna on a sacrifice fly.


Clemson pushed across two of its three runs in the fourth inning on Travis Storrer's two-run homer, and added its final run on Harvey's round-tripper in the eighth. The Tigers got a one-out hit from Herman Demmink in the ninth inning, but UVA closer Casey Lambert induced Brad Chalk to bounce into a game-inning double play.


QUOTES


Clemson Head Coach Jack Leggett on the exchange with Virginia Head Coach Brian O'Connor:
Nothing, it's over with. It had nothing to do with the game. I thought we made a couple mistakes along the way. We actually hit the ball pretty hard at the time. We had some rough at bats with men on base but we also hit the ball pretty good at different times. They just took advantage of a couple men we put on base. They put the ball in the right spot. That's all I can say. We just have to put it behind us and be ready to play next weekend.

On David Kopp pitching real well and the thought of starting today's game with him:
Yeah he did, but Harvey's a good pitcher for us too. He's been doing really well for us. He's had a great career and he deserved a chance to go out there. Kopp, a freshman, was ready to go for the second game if we need him. Once we got to that point, where it was a close ballgame, we decided we were going to try to win it (ballgame), and worry about the next one when it gets here. He did a real nice job of relief.


On Virginia's Sean Doolittle's pitching performance:
Doolittle just throws fastballs, he's very aggressive. We got a little tentative there at times. He's very aggressive, so you've got to be very aggressive against him. We got a little too picky at different times. He threw some good pitches with men on base. Like I said I thought we hit the ball hard at different times today, we just didn't have much to show for it.


On Stan Widmann's throw to first base in the sixth:
I'd like to have had him take a bite out of that thing. He's been a great player for us all year long and he's made some great plays. I've always said it doesn't come down to one play. It doesn't come down to one pitch. It doesn't come down to one at bat. It looks like it's a critical run and we'd like to have it back but that's the way it goes. You learn from it and we'll move on to the next thing. He just tried to make something that wasn't there and unfortunately it didn't pay off.


Designated Hitter/Pitcher Kris Harvey on his pitching performance:
I thought my stuff was good today but unfortunately I worked up in the zone too much. If I had worked the ball down just a little more I think I would have been alright. They didn't really hit that many balls hard, I just left it in the zone enough to where they could put it where we were not. That's the way it goes sometimes.


On walking around the mound a few times:
I was comfortable, that's just a rhythm I get into sometimes.


On the pitch he hit for a home run:
It was a fast ball away. He pretty much pitched me to a pattern the first couple times, and when we faced him the other day he did the same thing, so I just went up looking for it


On what happened in the game:
You just have to give credit to them. Their pitchers made some big pitches when they had to and we just kept swinging at some bad pitches and getting ourselves out. All the credit goes to them. He was throwing the ball exactly where he wanted to. He was keeping the ball down and away, it was a tough pitch to hit.


Opening Statement by Virginia Head Coach Brian O'Connor:
Obviously that's a tremendous win for our team to have the opportunity tomorrow at 1:00 to play for an ACC Championship is a tremendous accomplishment for our team and something we're very proud of. Clemson is one of the most storied baseball programs in this country. They have an outstanding coaching staff, great players and to come down here, I felt like they were one of the hottest teams in the country and probably the hottest team in our league; and to come down here and get two victories against them and have the opportunity to play for the title tomorrow is something that I know all of our players and coaching staff and everybody involved in our program is very proud of and we look forward to that opportunity tomorrow. This game came down to our pitching and defense again. Mike Ballard did not have his best stuff today, but Sean Doolittle has done a tremendous job all year, he's only a freshman. I think that home run he gave up I believe was the first run he's given up in the last 30 innings out of the bull pen, I just think that's amazing when you think about the teams that he's had to pitch against out of that bull pen and the types of games. He's done the job for us all year. Obviously Casey Lambert closes out the end and he's doing an excellent job closing for us. Really I think this game come down to our offensive execution and our opportunities. I think coach Kevin McMullen who coaches our third base and works with our hitters does an absolutely unbelievable job with our offense. If you watched closely there were a number of times we were fake stealing at first base, at second base to try to pop their catchers up to steal balls and getting positive counts for our hitters. He just does a fantastic job preparing these guys to win everyday from an offensive standpoint.


On the importance to come out and score quickly:
It's been very important; it has the last two ballgames. As you know it's been very uncharacteristic of our team. We're just locked in offensively, we're seeing the ball well. Our kids are battling; they're limiting their strike-outs they're executing. I believe in Championship baseball pitching and defense is important but Championship baseball is one with two out clutch hitting. That's what it comes down to when you have runners in scoring position.

On pitching three straight lefties being the game plan:
It was not the game plan coming into the game. It was what was available to us at the time. It was Mike Ballard's turn to start, so he's obviously left handed. Sean Doolittle is our top set-up guy in the bull pen, and he happens to be left handed. Casey Lambert's our guy that's got fourteen saves and he obviously is left handed. I tell you, what an advantage it is to be a left handed pitcher. Clemson has got five left-handed hitters in their line-up; Sean has been absolutely dominating against left-handed hitters all year long. It's so critical because you control the running game. The other team can get a hit, but to be able to steam a base with these guys on the mound is very difficult.


Coach on hosting regionals:
We bid for an NCAA regional; I think we have a great facility; we have a great venue and good fan support. It's possible. I think the location we're in, the committee will consider that. Obviously we've proven we can be in the NCAA tournament. So I think it's definitely a possibility we could win this championship tomorrow. I think quite frankly down the stretch here, we've earned it. The site committee and the selection committee have such a difficult job. There are so many teams that have great stadiums now and want to host regionals and I know that they'll make the decisions that are best for college baseball.


On the importance of scoring runs early in conjunction with the NCAA's home regional announcements at 3:15 on Sunday:
I never thought of it that way. I know tomorrow's going to be a tough game no matter who the opponent is, those two teams that are playing out on that field right now are two of the best in college baseball year in and year out. No matter when it happens, in the end, I just hope we have a chance to win the title.

On being the seventh seed and wanting to win from the beginning:
We're here to win, they're baseball games. I don't believe our players looked at these games any different than any other game all season. We just took it with the attitude that we're going to win one game at a time. Hopefully on Sunday we look up and we have an opportunity to compete for the championship in a tournament and I want our players getting used to winning championships and they're going to have that opportunity tomorrow. There is something to be said for bringing out a win on that final day to win a championship and have that opportunity because the following weekend you're going to have to win a championship to go to super regionals, super-regionals you're going to have to win a championship to go to Omaha, and I want my kids to learn what it takes to win a title.

On Tim Henry's at bat in the sixth inning:
He was able to execute the fly ball there and that was a critical run for us. He didn't pack it in. He had two strikes on him, he didn't execute the bunt. We asked him to bunt and he was able to get at least on top of the ball enough to drive it to the out field and score the run and that was a critical run

On Kyle Werman getting on base and his play in today's win:
Let me tell you, I don't know if I have enough tape in front of me to talk about this kid. He's amazing. He's five foot six, 150 lbs soaking wet. Every coach in this league has said defensively and the heart that this kid has, he's the best in the league. He just battles. Here's a great example of a kid that walked onto this team, persevered size and everything, and he's been critical for us down the stretch. Funny thing about Kyle, the ball just seems to find the barrel, and find a spot of the field. Its amazing those outfielders we play against, play practically right behind the in-field against him and he still finds holes. He battles and draws walks and his defensive ability is just amazing. He's really one of the two guys who are the leaders on this time. He and Scott Headd epitomize our program.

First baseman/Pitcher Sean Doolittle on five strike-outs in three innings and being surprised they kept taking the pitches:
A little bit because they've always been a very aggressive team, especially a few times earlier in the year when I faced them. It's all about hitting your spots, setting up pitches and pounding the strike zone. When you're pounding the strike zone a lot of good things can happen. I was throwing mostly fast balls; I don't know if they were starting to look for off-speed pitches when they had two strikes on them, but I was able to keep the ball down in the zone and hit my spot.

On collecting his thoughts after giving up the homerun:
Defiantly, when you want to win that badly and the stakes are high, it's easy for something like that to crawl inside your head and to get mad at yourself for leaving the ball up in the zone. Scott Headd did a great job; He came right out and he calmed me right down. He's done that all year; he's been really good at keeping me focused on doing my job on the mound and pounding the strike zone and getting hitters out. So after that I knew my only job from there on was to hold that one run lead.

On imaging six months ago they'd be in the ACC championship:
I had imagined we were going to go very deep in the post season once I signed at Virginia. I saw what they did last year, I imagined going very deep in the post-season and having the chance to do very cool things. I didn't envision any specific things or anything like that. I didn't know what kind of role I was going to have coming in here, but I was very optimistic about doing special things in the post season with this group of guys.


On coming in to pitch:
I think I probably threw 10 pitches in the bull pen today. I really like the role that I've been placed in. I go right from the dug out and into the bull pen. I throw my pitches, get loose, and the next thing I know Coach is walking out to the mound and he says Doc you've got the ball. It gives me less time to think about it. Less time to go over the "what if's", I just get the ball, I'm warmed up already, I just go right from first, change my spikes, get out on the mound and start throwing strikes. I used to need a lot of pitches to warm up but now I don't think I could pitch any other way.


 Clemson 4 (39-21)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Herman Demmink 3b........  5  0  2  0   0  2  0  1   1
Brad Chalk cf............  4  1  2  0   1  0  2  0   0
Taylor Harbin 2b.........  3  0  0  0   1  2  2  7   0
Tyler Colvin lf..........  4  0  1  0   0  2  2  0   4
Kris Harvey p/dh.........  4  2  2  2   0  0  1  0   0
Travis Storrer rf........  4  1  1  2   0  0  0  0   0
Andy D'Alessio 1b........  3  0  2  0   1  1 12  0   0
Stan Widmann ss..........  3  0  0  0   0  1  2  2   2
Adrian Casanova c........  3  0  0  0   0  0  3  3   0
 Ben Hall ph.............  1  0  0  0   0  1  0  0   0
 David Kopp p............  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Totals................... 34  4 10  4   3  9 24 13   7

Virginia 5 (41-17)

Player                    AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
------------------------------------------------------
Tim Henry cf.............  4  0  0  1   0  1  4  0   3
 Casey Lambert p.........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Matt Street rf...........  3  1  1  0   1  0  1  0   0
Ryan Zimmerman 3b........  4  1  2  0   0  0  1  2   0
Sean Doolittle 1b/p......  3  1  0  0   1  0  6  0   1
Brandon Guyer dh/lf......  3  1  1  0   1  1  1  0   0
Scott Headd c............  3  0  1  2   0  0  9  2   2
Tom Hagan lf/1b..........  3  0  1  1   0  0  1  0   0
 Mike Mitchell cf........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Mike Campagna ss.........  3  1  1  0   0  0  0  1   0
Kyle Werman 2b...........  2  0  1  1   2  1  3  3   2
Mike Ballard p...........  0  0  0  0   0  0  1  0   0
Totals................... 28  5  8  5   5  3 27  8   8

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
-------------------------------------------
Clemson............. 000 300 010 -  4 10  2
Virginia............ 013 001 00X -  5  8  2
-------------------------------------------

E - WIDMANN(21); CASANOVA(8); Zimmerman(10); Doolittle(5). 
DP - VA 3. LOB - CU 7; VA 8. HR - HARVEY(22); STORRER(6). 
HBP - Headd. SH - WIDMANN(7); Hagan(3); Campagna(8). 
SF - Henry(3). SB - Street(11); Zimmerman(17). CS -
Werman(6).

Clemson                IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Kris Harvey.........  2.1  6  4  4  2  1 12 16
David Kopp..........  5.2  2  1  0  3  2 16 21

Virginia               IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF
-----------------------------------------------
Mike Ballard........  4.2  5  3  3  3  3 17 21
Sean Doolittle......  3.1  4  1  1  0  5 14 14
Casey Lambert.......  1.0  1  0  0  0  1  3  3

Win - Doolittle (3-0).  Loss - HARVEY (5-4).  Save - Lambert (14).
HBP - by HARVEY (Headd).
Umpires - HP: AJ Lostaglio  1B: Arthur Schmidt  
2B: Bryant Woodall  3B: Al Davis
 Start: 10:07 am   Time: 2:41   Attendance:
Game notes:
ID-345668
  

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