May 24, 2003


ACC Tournament Notes
A case for Virginia

By Sean Ryan Co-Founder

SALEM, Va. – A year ago, Georgia had a 30-27 record and an RPI that was among the top 20 in the nation. The Bulldogs, who were .500 in the SEC, qualified for the NCAA Tournament and went 2-2 at the Atlanta Regional.


Virginia is hoping for a similar chance.


The Cavaliers were eliminated from the ACC Tournament with a 2-0 defeat to Florida State Saturday, leaving them 29-25 on the year. The Cavs finished 11-12 in the ACC – rated the best conference in the nation – after having its home game against Maryland rained out. As of Saturday, they had an RPI of 22.


Will it be enough?


“Wouldn’t that be great if they were rewarded?” asked Seminoles coach Mike Martin.


The odds are great that the ACC will get five berths to the field of 64. A sixth appears to be a coin-toss.


Virginia has lost nine games by a single run and 13 of 25 by two or less. It easily could have grabbed at least one win in a season-opening sweep at the hands of Auburn, losing 14-13, 5-3 and 7-5. Other one-run losses came to FSU, Richmond (two), North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and North Carolina.


One downside is that the Cavs have dropped eight of 11 down the stretch.




It’s tough not to think “what if” when talking about Virginia.


Aside from all the close losses, what if starters Mike Ballard and Jeff Kamrath had not injured their arms? Ballard was 2-2 with a 1.93 ERA in seven starts, and Kamrath was 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA in six starts.


Womack said after the game that their returns are in question, as both may need Tommy John surgery.


“I tell you what, I’m very nervous about that,” he said.




FSU’s Martin didn’t get a fantastic night’s sleep after Friday night’s 3-2 loss to North Carolina. But it wasn’t the loss that kept him awake. It was the youth church group, and the noise it was making.


“We played well, North Carolina played better,” Martin said. “It was easy to go to sleep. We got beat.”


After the win over North Carolina State, a game that ended near midnight, Martin was asked if the youth church group was going to keep him up.


“That’s what I’m going to find out,” Martin joked.


Later, when asked again about the troublemakers, Martin passed along another one-liner.


“There is a good chance there will be some conversation between me and the Baptists if it’s loud,” Martin said. “Because I’m tired.”




Duke was pounded 23-4 in an elimination game with Georgia Tech. That didn’t stop coach Bill Hillier from snapping off the quote of the weekend.


“We got three in the eighth, and it got down to three touchdowns,” Hillier said.




The big loss brought back a rough memory for Hillier.


While a coach at Division-III Otterbein, Hillier said his squad was beating Marietta – a team it had beaten five times during the season – 8-4 midway through the national championship game. His squad ended up losing 35-8 – without any errors.


“I’m not embarrassed,” he said after the loss to Tech. “I’ve coached for 25 years and seen that happen.”




North Carolina State third baseman Jeremy Dutton left the game against North Carolina after scoring in the sixth. Early indications are that Dutton, who has 10 homers, strained a hamstring. It isn’t known if he’ll play the rest of the tournament.




Joey Devine threw 4.1 innings of splendid relief to pick up the win in the Wolfpack’s 7-6 win over UNC. Coach Elliott Avent didn’t necessarily plan to throw Devine that much.


“Way too many,” Avent said of the number of innings his freshman closer threw. “This was a huge game…we felt we had to go for it.”




Mike Martin Jr. surely will get a little ribbing from the Seminoles.


Martin Jr., who coaches third for FSU, appeared to be so excited waving Chris Hart to third on Daniel Wardell’s double, that he fell down. He ended up giving Hart the stop sign while sitting on his backside.


“I’m sure that there’s something in the works from the players to him,” Martin said.




In the top of the ninth of the Seminoles' win, FSU pitcher Matt DiBlasi got the rare opportunity for an at-bat.


Even more interesting was that the at-bat came against N.C. State outfielder Tim Coffield, who entered in the ninth inning. Coffield, who is hitting .279 with three homers and 12 RBI on the year, got DiBlasi to ground to second, where Adam Hargrave booted the grounder.


Call it a draw.




When Martin arrived at the postgame press conference, he had an opening statement for the handful of reporters who remained.


"I come out of respect," Martin said. "MIQ. In North Carolina where I was raised - make it quick."