Close games highlight opening day at ACC baseball tourney

Pitt, Florida State and Miami earned pool play victories with each game decided in the late innings

Reese Albert is congratulated by his Florida State teammates after his game-winning 11th inning double against Virginia on Tuesday. ( photo)

DURHAM — An ACC baseball tournament anticipated to be one of the most competitive ever lived up to its billing on the opening day of action Tuesday.

All three games at Durham Bulls Athletic Park were decided in the late innings as Pittsburgh, Florida State and Miami came away with victories on the opening day of pool play competition.

The 12th-seeded Panthers scored twice in the seventh to break a scoreless tie and go on to a 2-1 win against No. 8 Georgia Tech, guaranteeing Pitt them of a winning record this season. The sixth-seeded Seminoles earned their third walk-off win in their last four games by outlasting No. 10 Virginia 3-2 in 11 innings, while the seventh-seeded Hurricanes kept their NCAA Tournament hopes afloat with a five-run eighth to rally past No. 11 Notre Dame 6-2 victory for their 11th straight triumph.

Two of the four state teams begin tournament play today with No. 9 Wake Forest taking on No. 5 Louisville at 11 a.m. and top-seeded North Carolina playing Pittsburgh in the late game at approximately 7 p.m. NC State and Duke aren’t scheduled to play until Thursday.

Here is the wrapup of Tuesday’s opening day action:

Pitt 2, Georgia Tech 1: The Panthers (28-25) broke open a pitcher’s duel between Matt Pidich and Georgia Tech’s Xzavion Curry by pushing across the game’s first two runs with two outs in the top of the seventh inning to win their first-ever ACC tournament game.

Caleb Parry delivered the tie-breaking RBI with his single up the middle that plated Liam Sabino, who had opened the inning by being hit with a pitch. Chris Cappas followed with a triple to right-center — his second extra-base hit of the game — to make it 2-0.

Georgia Tech (32-25) got one run back in the bottom of the seventh when Kyle McCann led off with a double, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Tristin English’s grounder to short. But RJ Freure came on in relief of Pidich and preserved the win, striking out three batters and yielding just one hit in the final two innings.

Both teams finished the Pool A matchup with just four hits.

Florida State 4, UVA 3 (11 innings): Reese Albert’s two-out double off the wall in right scored Drew Mendoza from first base to lift the defending champion Seminoles in Pool C.

Florida State (40-17) won in extra innings for the third time in less than a week, the fourth time during the month of May and the sixth time this season. Albert delivered the walk-off heroics for the second time in five days after hitting a three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th to give the Seminoles a 6-3 win over NC State last Friday night in the next-to-last game of the regular season.

Albert’s clutch double on Tuesday ended a marathon that had been tied at 2-2 since Virginia’s Nate Eikhoff delivered a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth inning to scored Andy Weber from third. Weber had singled and moved into scoring position on Alex Tappen’s double.

Miami 6, Notre Dame 2: The seventh-seeded Hurricanes (28-25) preserved the second-longest current win streak in Division I with a furious eighth-inning rally in Pool B.

After Notre Dame reliever Andrew Belcik began the inning by hitting Tony Jenkins with a pitch and issuing a walk to Romy Gonzalez, Hurricanes’ cleanup hitter Danny Reyes lined a run-scoring double to right-center.

Reyes’ hit tied the score at 2-2 and opened the gate for four more Miami runs. Michael Burns and Raymond Gil followed with run-scoring base hits, and Freddy Zamora capped the flurry with a bases-loaded, two-run single for the final 6-2 margin.