Tallahassee - Fifth-ranked Florida State (33-11, 17-7) fell in the rubber game to top-ranked Virginia (37-8, 18-6), 4-3, Sunday afternoon on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium marking the first one-run loss for the Seminoles in eight games this year.
FSU was held to just four hits on the afternoon as the Seminoles dropped an ACC series at home for the first time since May 2011 when Clemson took two of three, a span covering 13 home conference series.
“What was fun about today was that it was a playoff atmosphere which is good for us,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “But what’s not to like about that ball club (in referring to Florida State); we got beat by a ball club that has been ranked No. 1 all year with the exception of a couple weeks.”
Ben DeLuzio and John Sansone were responsible for all of Florida State’s hits on the afternoon as DeLuzio tied a career-high with his third three-hit game of the season. The freshman centerfielder recorded singles in his first three at-bats. Sansone went 1-for-4 connecting on a two-run home run in the bottom of the third.
Virginia’s Brandon Waddell went 7.0 strong innings to move his record to 6-2 on the year. The sophomore southpaw allowed two runs on three hits as he walked just one and finished with four strikeouts.
“It was one in which we had a couple of chances and they wouldn’t let us,” added Martin. “Waddell pitched beautifully. They did what they needed to do to get out of that inning (eighth) in which we loaded the bases.”
Nick Howard recorded the final four outs, all via the strikeout, to secure his second save of the series and 15th of the season.
Bryant Holtmann (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season as the junior southpaw left the game with one out in the fourth with a left arm injury. Holtmann allowed three runs, all in the third, on four hits as he walked two and struck out one.
The Seminole bullpen kept the Cavaliers in check the rest of the way out as four pitchers combined to give up a run on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
The loss on Sunday also snapped Florida State’s win streak at 24 when wearing its gold uniforms during the regular season. The Seminoles’ last regular season loss when donning the gold unis was against North Carolina (L, 6-7) on April 10, 2011.
Virginia broke through first on Sunday with three runs in the top of the third. Kenny Towns opened the scoring with a solo shot to left taking a 1-0 pitch from Holtmann out of the park for his second round tripper of the season. Mike Papi gave the Cavaliers a 3-0 lead lacing a two-run double down the line in right.
The Seminoles answered right back with two runs in the bottom of the third courtesy of Sansone’s two-run home run. The sophomore second baseman deposited a 2-0 pitch from Waddell over the wall in left center for his second home run of the season to cut the deficit to 3-2. DeLuzio scored on the play after opening the inning with a single to right.
UVa increased its lead to 4-2 in the seventh on another key two-out hit from Papi. With runners at the corners, Papi found the hole between short and third off Billy Strode for his second hit of the afternoon and third RBI. Towns plated the fourth run of the afternoon following Papi’s hit after drawing a walk off Peter Miller to start the inning.
The Seminoles drew within one of the lead when John Nogowski drew a two-out bases loaded walk off Cavalier reliever Connor Jones in the eighth. Florida State threatened for more in the inning as UVa went to the bullpen and brought on Howard to face Jose Brizuela.
Brizuela just missed on giving the Seminoles their first lead of the ball game as he hammered a pitch from the Cavalier closer out of the park but in foul territory to right. Howard answered back by getting Brizuela swinging on strikes to end the threat.
“He did get a good swing on that,” said Martin. “Probably missed his location and Jose was just a little bit too quick with the hands. He sure did get a good swing on it.”
Florida State will take the week off for final exams before returning to the diamond for a three-game non-conference series against Minnesota beginning Friday, May 2. All three games will broadcast live on ESPN3. Audio will be available on the Seminoles.com All-Access player. Locally fans can listen to the game on 1270 AM (Friday) and 100.7 FM (Saturday & Sunday).
As always, fans can receive in-game updates on Twitter @FSU_Baseball. Also, do not forget to like the Seminole Baseball team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FSUBaseball and to follow the team on Instagram (NoleBaseball). Live stats will be available via gametracker.