Mendoza makes it happen again, FSU wins second consecutive ACC Tournament Championship

Durham, N.C. — Drew Mendoza came up big for the second consecutive year, and Florida State took home another Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship trophy.

Mendoza’s bases-loaded, two-run double snapped a tie game in the top of the 10th, keying the sixth-seeded Seminoles to an 11-8 win over fifth-seeded Louisville in Sunday’s tournament title game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Mendoza, who finished the day 3-for-4 with three RBI and reached base five times, performed his heroics one year after hitting two homers and driving in four runs in FSU’s 2017 title-game win over North Carolina.

The Seminoles (43-17) became the first team since Wake Forest in 1998 and 1999 to claim back-to-back ACC baseball titles. This year’s championship is Florida State’s third in four years and eighth overall. This year also marked FSU’s fourth straight appearance in the ACC title game.

In addition to winning for the 16th time in their last 17 ACC Baseball Championship games, the Seminoles continued an uncanny run of recent success in extra innings. FSU is now 7-1 this season in extra-inning games. That includes a 5-0 record during the month of May, including two extra-inning wins in this year’s tournament.

Sunday marked only the third of 45 ACC Baseball Championship title games that have been decided in extra innings and the first since Georgia Tech’s 6-5 win over NC State at Salem, Virginia, in 2003.

The Seminoles’ winning top of the 10th began when Jackson Lueck drew a leadoff walk from Michael McAvene (0-1), the fourth of five Louisville pitchers. Rhett Aplin followed with a base hit, and a one-out walk to Steven Wells loaded the bases.

That set the table for Mendoza, who lined a 2-0 pitch from Shay Smiddy into right field for a 10-8 FSU lead. Wells added an insurance run when he scored from third base on Reese Albert’s groundout, and Seminole reliever Jonah Scolaro (2-1) retired the Cardinals in order in the bottom of the 10th.

Florida State’s 10th-inning flurry capped an up-and-down afternoon in which each side took turns seizing and then relinquishing an apparent upper hand.

Tournament MVP Cal Raleigh’s two-run double in the top of the first, followed by third-inning RBI singles by Mendoza and Rafael Bournigal, helped stake the Seminoles to a 5-1 lead after 2 ½ innings.

But the Cardinals’ Devin Mann countered with a two-run homer in the bottom of the third, and Josh Stowers led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot to make it 5-4. Following base hits by Drew Campbell and Danny Oreinte, Zach Britton sent an 0-1 pitch from FSU starter Andrew Karp over the wall in right-center for a three-run homer and a 7-5 Louisville lead.

The Cardinals (43-17) made it 8-5 in the top of the fifth when Mann led off with a double and scored on Logan Wyatt’s base hit to center field.

Florida State got one back in the top of the sixth when leadoff hitter J.C. Flowers reached on an error and scored on Mike Salvatore’s double to right. The Seminoles proceeded to load the bases with no outs, but the Cardinals escaped further damage with the help on a double play on a hard-hit ball. Louisville first baseman Wyatt snared a hard shot off Raleigh’s bat and stepped on the bag to complete the DP (Ironically, Louisville’s bottom half of the fifth inning had ended in similar fashion).

The Seminoles tied the game with two more in the seventh. Albert led off with a double and scored on a base hit by Bournigal, who took second on the throw to the plate. Bourningal took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored from there to make it 8-8 on an errant would-be pickoff throw by Louisville reliever Reid Detmers.

Raleigh, a junior catcher from Cullowhee, North Carolina, earned MVP honors after batting .333 with a home run and six RBI in four tournament games. Four of his six hits went for extra bases.

FSU clinched the ACC’s automatic NCAA tournament berth with Sunday’s wins, but Louisville is a virtual lock to join the Seminoles in the 64-team field. Regional site hosts will be announced this evening at 8:30 p.m., with the complete 64-team NCAA field to follow Monday at noon (ESPNU).

2018 ACC BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
C – Cal Raleigh, Florida State
1B – Chris Williams, Clemson
2B – Devin Mann, Louisville
3B – Drew Mendoza, Florida State
SS – Logan Davidson, Clemson
OF – Seth Beer, Clemson
OF – Josh Stowers, Louisville
OF – Chris Cappas, Pitt
UT/DH – Jackson Lueck, Florida State
P – Drew Parrish, Florida State
P – Adam Wolf, Louisville

MVP – Cal Raleigh, Florida State

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