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May 23, 2013

Ninth inning homer does in FSU again

Durham, NC - For the second day in a row, Florida State lost on a ninth-inning home run, falling to Virginia Tech, 3-2, in the ACC Baseball Tournament.

The Seminoles dropped to 0-2 in pool play and lost their third straight game, all by one run.

For eight innings, FSU couldn't muster any offense against Tech starter Brad Markey. The Hokie right-hander, who didn't learn he was starting until 9:00 p.m. the night before, struck out 10 Seminole batters in 8.1 innings. He also held FSU to seven total hits.

Markey regularly got ahead in the count against a patient Florida State lineup.

"We don't like to swing at first-pitch curves," said FSU left fielder DJ Stewart. "We were taking it, but he did a good job getting it over the plate."

Stewart was the only FSU batter to have any success against Markey. The freshman outfielder went 3-for-4 against the Hokies and has six hits in his seven at-bats in the ACC Tournament. But outside of Stewart, FSU managed just four total hits on the night.

"He matched up well with them," Virginia Tech coach Pete Hughes said of the decision to start Markey. "Their offense hangs in, goes deep in counts, and Brad is a strike-throwing machine."

Florida State starter Luke Weaver was up to the challenge in his half of the pitchers' duel. He shut out Virginia Tech for the first six innings and struck out nine in 6.1 innings which matched his career and season high.

The Hokies broke through against Weaver in the seventh. Tyler Horan beat out a slow roller to third baseman Casey Smit. Mark Zagunis followed with a triple to right center, scoring Horan. Andrew Rash brought Zagunis home with a sacrifice fly.

"I just got unlucky with that slow roller to third off the end of the bat," Weaver said. "Then the next guy jumped on my fastball and got it into the gap. That was the biggest mistake I had all night."

Florida State rallied down two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the score. Stephen McGee led off the inning with a double about that hit about 28 feet up the 32-foot wall in left field. One out later, Smit nailed a ground-rule double up the first-base line bringing in McGee. Josh Delph followed up with a pinch-hit RBI single to tie the game.

With one out in the ninth, Zagunis hit a Gage Smith 2-0 pitch into the second floor balcony of the office building behind the left field wall for a walk-off home run. The blast came one day after Georgia Tech hit back-to-back home runs to defeat the 'Noles in game one of the Tournament.

"I got up in the count and was looking for the fastball," Zagunis said. "He left it up over the middle."

The loss eliminates Florida State's chances at reaching the ACC championship game. The 'Noles will finish their ACC Tournament schedule with a game against Virginia at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.



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