FSU Rallies Past UNC in 9th Inning

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- North Carolina entered the ninth inning against Florida State with a 5-3 lead on Saturday night, but for the second time in three ACC Championship games this week, the Tar Heel bullpen faltered late as the Seminoles scored six runs to post a 9-6 victory.

"It's certainly a disappointing loss for us," UNC head coach Mike Fox said. "To have a lead in the ninth inning and not get it done, give up a six-spot, it's uncharacteristic of our team, but we've done it twice here. So, our bullpen just didn't get it done, and you've got to give Florida State a great deal of credit there."

Florida State's Buster Posey proved why he was the ACC Player of the Year when he stepped to plate to pinch hit in the final inning of what was supposed to be his well-earned day off after 184 consecutive starts. After a Rob Wooten wild pitch moved the base runners to second and third with one out, Posey drilled a two-run single into left field to tie the game.

A 64-minute rain delay promptly ensued, and apparently washed away the Tar Heels' chances with the downpour. Florida State (48-10) finished what Posey started when play resumed as the Seminoles added four more runs on RBI singles from Jack Rye, Dennis Guinn and Tommy Oravetz plus a sacrifice fly from Tony Delmonico.

After a solid 7 2/3 innings from Adam Warren and Colin Bates, the Tar Heels (46-12) turned to Wooten to close the book on UNC's ACC Championship. But the usually reliable senior gave up two hits and two walks in totaling three earned runs, and his replacement Tim Federowicz did not fair much better, allowing three more earned runs on four hits.

"I feel for Rob because he's been the guy for us the last couple of years," Fox said. "He strikes out the leadoff guy, but, he's been living on the edge… He'll be fine, we have a lot of confidence in him. That walk hurt us and then we opened the door for them with that."

In all, Florida State accumulated six of its nine runs and six of its 12 hits in the ninth inning.

North Carolina made it interesting in the bottom of the inning. Mark Fleury hit a blast with the bases loaded to deep left field, and Seth Williams followed him with a line drive that curved just left of the left baseline foul pole, but a strong inward breeze prevented any ninth inning miracles for the Tar Heels.

"You might say for a game that didn't mean anything towards the outcome of the tournament, it certainly was a game played with a lot of emotion by both clubs," FSU head coach Mike Martin said.

The bullpen's collapse overshadowed a strong showing by Warren, who struck out six consecutive Seminoles en route to tossing eight strikeouts against just one walk on the evening.

North Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two innings on a Chad Flack sacrifice fly and a Dustin Ackley RBI single. Florida State countered in the fifth with a Parker Brunelle two-RBI single, but the Tar Heels would increase their lead with RBI's from Kyle Shelton, Tim Fedroff and another from Ackley later in the game.

The Tar Heels now must wait until the NCAA announces its pairings for regional play next weekend, which is scheduled to be announced on ESPN on Monday at 12:30 p.m. North Carolina is expected to serve as a host with a national seed.

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