The Cavalier baseball team began yesterday uncertain if their game against UNC was going to be meaningful. Fortunately for the 'Hoos, Miami and UNC took care of business against Wake Forest and assured the Cavaliers of a spot against FSU in the title game on Sunday before their final game of pool play against UNC.
Even though both teams knew the game was meaningless coming into the game, you could not have have figured that out from watching the two on the field. Perhaps the best played game in the ACC tournament so far, both teams had something to prove against each other and to the national audience. UNC wanted to prove that last weekend's sweep of the Hoos was no fluke and the 'Hoos wanted to prove that they were truly the best in the ACC.
UVa's ace, Danny Hultzen, was scheduled to start coming into the day but after UNC was eiliminated, Coach O'Connor moved Cody Winiarski to the game against the Tar Heels. Cody turned in another fine performance from a UVa starter pitching six innings and holding Carolina to two runs on five hits. The Cavalier bullpen closed out the rest of the game to give the 'Hoos their 48th win of the year and allowed Branden Kline to earn his 17th save of the season. He's now one away from tying Kevin Arico's single season save record.
On Sunday, UVa and FSU will matchup in the ACC tournament title game again. Last time the tournament was held in Durham in 2009, the same two squared off in the title game. As we all know, the Cavaliers won that game 6-3. Oddly enough, the two ACC tournament titles that the Cavaliers have have come at the expense of Florida State and in Durham. Come Sunday, UVa will have been featured in three of the last four ACC title games while the Seminoles have been in each of the last three. Both teams will be looking to grab their second title in that time.
Coming into the weekend I fully expected the Cavaliers to contend for the title game. Their deep rotation and bullpen puts them at the top of the Conference and it will surely show on Sunday. With the reigning ACC Pitcher of the Year on the mound nobody can say that the 'Hoos aren't favored against the Seminoles. Danny had an excellent start against the Seminoles earlier this year giving up two earned runs on six hits over seven innings. He also struck out 12 that day....TWELVE. FSU will send Junior RHP Hunter Scantling who only pitched 0.1 that weekend when the two squared off earlier in the year. Scantling is good, but he is no Danny Hultzen.
If you told Coach O'Connor at the beginning of the year that he could be in the ACC title game and have Hultzen on the mound, he might have lost his breath and thanked god. I can't imagine FSU's coach Mike Martin is too thrilled about having Hultzen on the mound either. Martin has been very complimentary of both Hultzen and the 'Hoos over the last four or five years. Personally, I am pumped about the game. The Cavaliers are set up very well and I fully expect them to win their second ACC title in three years.
The game begins at 1 P.M. today and should be featured on your local regional sports network (CSN, Fox Sports, etc.). As always, I will be providing updates and running commentary of how great the announcers are on twitter @STLUVaBaseball. And as my ACC Championship ring says.....GO HOOS!