Tallahassee, Fla. - Florida State (23-0, 3-0 ACC) scored a combined 10 runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings as the Seminoles broke open a tie ball game to down Wake Forest (11-10, 2-4 ACC) 11-1 Sunday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium. With the sweep over the Demon Deacons, the Seminoles have now opened league play by sweeping its opponents 11 times since joining the ACC in 1992. Junior Ryan Strauss settled down after a shaky start and pitched seven innings allowing just one run on five hits for his fifth win of the season.
Five Seminole batters recorded two hits on the afternoon, while Mark Hallberg, Buster Posey and Dennis Guinn each record two RBI's. Junior Jack Rye extended his hitting streak to a career-best 20 games with his single to left in the fourth. Travis Anderson, who started as the designated hitter for the second straight game, recorded a two-out double in the second for his second two-bagger in as many games.
"Anytime you get a sweep against a conference opponent, you've got to be encouraged and certainly we are but at the same time we know that there is a lot of baseball left to play," said head coach Mike Martin. "I am very proud of the way we are playing."
Strauss (5-0) got off to a shaky start as he threw 34 pitches in the first. After striking out Brett Linnenkohl to start the game, he issued back-to-back walks to Eric Williams and Allan Dykstra before giving up an RBI single up the middle to designated hitter Willy Fox. After a fielder's choice groundout, Strauss gave up his third walk of the inning to load the bases with two outs for Demon Deacon catcher Austin Jones. Strauss would bear down to get the final out striking out Jones to end the inning.
"I struggled early," said Strauss. "I was fortunate to get out of a couple jams and once I got out of it, around the fourth inning everything seemed to click. Wake Forest is a good ball club, but we are excited that we could come out this weekend and get the job done."
The lead was short lived as Tony Thomas, Jr. tied the ball game with one swing of the bat. The junior second baseman took the first pitch he saw from Wake starter Garrett Bullock (1-1) and deposited it over the fence in right for his second home run of the season. It was the first, first inning home run hit by the Seminoles this season.
After a one-two-three second inning by Strauss, the junior right hander got out of another bases loaded jam in the third. Strauss retired Williams and Dykstra on a pair of fly outs to Hallberg to start the third, but then gave up back-to-back singles to Fox and Dustin Hood and a walk to Evan Ocheltree to load the bases once again for Jones. Strauss once again won the battle as he got Jones to bounce into a fielder's choice groundout to end the threat.
Strauss settled down after the third retiring nine straight Demon Deacons at one point. He gave up just two hits and no walks beyond the first three innings and allowed one runner to reach third. The Tampa, Fla., native threw a career-high 113 pitches in seven innings of work as he struck out four batters.
"Ryan Strauss had the best outing I have seem him have as a Seminole," stated Martin. "It was great, great pitching. He was as impressive as I have ever seen him on the mound."
The game remained tied into the bottom of the sixth as Florida State finally broke through with a three spot off Bullock. Hallberg started the inning with an infield single to third and moved to second after Posey was awarded first on a catcher's interference. Guinn gave the Seminoles their first lead of the day as he laced a double to right center driving in Hallberg and Posey. Guinn would move to third on the play as Williams had problems handling the ball in the outfield. Jason Stidham made the score 4-1 as he singled to left scoring Guinn.
The Seminole would add another in the seventh as Brandon Reichert recorded his first hit of the ball game hitting a double off the fence in right. After Thomas was hit by a pitch, Hallberg laid down a sacrifice bunt putting runners on second and third for Posey. The sophomore catcher came through as he hit a sacrifice fly to right field scoring Reichert.
FSU would break the game open in the eighth as they scored six runs off Wake Forest reliever Josh Ellis. With runners at first and second, designated hitter Tommy Oravetz entered the game and registered his first RBI of the season as he hit a single to left field scoring Rye. It was the first run scored off Ellis, as the right hander hadn't allowed a run in 15.1 innings this season. Ellis had a chance to get Wake out of the inning with just one run crossing the plate, but an errant throw over to first by the rightie pitcher on a groundball by Reichert kept the inning alive for the Seminoles. And Florida State would take advantage of the mistake scoring five more times to make the score 11-1. Hallberg posted two RBI's in the inning, while Posey capped off the scoring by driving in Hallberg with his single up the middle.
Brian Chambers and Matt Fairel pitched the eighth and ninth innings, respectively as both pitchers did not give up a hit, while combining for four strike outs. Fairel was impressive as he struck out the side in the ninth to end the game.
The Seminoles outscored the Demon Deacons 22-10 on the weekend winning the first two games by one run including an 11-inning game on Friday. Twelve of the 22 runs recorded this weekend came on two outs moving the season total to 112 runs scored this season on two outs.
"It feels great," said Hallberg on the Seminoles sweep over Wake Forest. "We grinded out three wins this weekend showing a lot of character by winning the close games. It was fun; a great atmosphere and we got the job done."
Florida State will return to the diamond on Wednesday, March 21 as the Seminoles will travel on the road to face the Jacksonville Dolphins. It marks just the second game away from Mike Martin Field for the Seminoles so far in 2007. First pitch is slated for 6:00 pm and right hander Caleb Graham is expected to make his first start of the season. Fans can follow all the action over the Internet. Gametracker will be available for the contest along with live radio broadcast courtesy of 1270 the TEAM.
For further information, visit: www.seminoles.com