Atlanta, GA - Top-ranked Florida State (27-8, 14-4) got a key two-out, two-run single from Josh Delph in the top of the eighth as the Seminoles came from behind to defeat Georgia Tech (23-14, 10-8) 5-4 Sunday afternoon inside Russ Chandler Stadium.
“It was such an unbelievably tough at-bat,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said on Delph’s at-bat in the eighth. “He fell behind 0-2, fouled off a couple pitches and then just really showed what he is all about in hanging in there. No doubt it was a big lift for this baseball team.”
All weekend the Seminoles were in search of that key inning to flip the momentum in their favor. That inning finally came in the eighth on Sunday as the Seminoles scored three runs, all on two outs, to grab their first lead of the weekend. The win snapped FSU’s three-game losing streak while the Noles avoided their first sweep at the hands of the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta since 2005.
Florida State loaded the bases in the eighth off Sam Clay (2-1) as the sophomore southpaw issued two walks and a hit-by-pitch to the first three batters he faced in the inning. The Jackets then went to the bullpen and called on Dusty Isaacs, who recorded back-to-back strikeouts to the first two batters that he faced.
Pinch hitter Jameis Winston kept the inning alive in the eighth as he drew a bases loaded walk paving the way for Delph’s key base hit. After falling behind 0-2, Delph worked the count to 2-2 before lacing a base hit back up the middle to plate Jose Brizuela and Casey Smit giving Florida State a one-run lead.
“I was very proud of the way he (Jameis) came through to drive in the run for us to get us within one and of course proud that Joshua came through,” said Martin.
“I love big moments like that,” said Winston on his at-bat in the eighth. “And obviously I was able to get a walk and Delph came through big. It was good to get a win today.”
“He made a good pitch on me,” said Delph. “The first pitch was a high fastball and he just beat me. He made a good pitch on the outside black, down 0-2; I knew he had good sliders. I got a fastball low and outside, I was a little early on it and probably should have hit it to left field, but it worked. I got around a little bit and hit it up the middle.”
Dylan Silva worked a perfect eighth inning before handing the ball over to Winston in the ninth. The sophomore right hander gave up a single back up the middle to Connor Justus to open the ninth, but a well-timed pitch out on a steal attempt erased Justus from the base paths as Ladson Montgomery threw down to Justin Gonzalez for the first out of the inning.
Winston bounced back to get pinch hitter Keenan Innis swinging on strikes for out number two. He then worked around a two-out walk getting pinch hitter Mitch Earnest to fly out to left for the final out of the game. The save for Winston was his fifth of the season.
“I probably wasn’t as sharp as I usually am but whatever it takes to get a win, I’m down for it,” added Winston.
Silva retired all four batters that he faced in game three to improve to 2-0 on the year.
For the third time in the series, Georgia Tech went on top early scoring four runs in the first. The Yellow Jackets knocked out Florida State starter Bryant Holtmann after he faced just six batters allowing five of those six hitters to reach on four singles and a walk. Georgia Tech opened the inning with four straight singles as all four batters would come around to score to give the Yellow Jackets a 4-0 lead.
Brandon Gold had the big hit in the inning with a two-out, two-run double down the line in right with the bases loaded. Justus tried to score from first on the play but was tagged out at home as the relay throw to Danny De La Calle at the plate from John Sansone was just in time to retire the side.
The first inning was unkind to the Seminoles all weekend long as Georgia Tech outscored Florida State 10-0 over the three games series.
Gage Smith was the story of the afternoon as he kept the Seminoles in the ballgame after turning in a career-high 6.1 scoreless innings. Smith entered the game in the first and worked into the seventh inning before giving way to Silva with two outs in the inning.
“I don’t think I have ever gone in the game in the first inning, so it was definitely a different mindset” said Smith. “I was just trying to keep the ball down, throw strikes and let them get themselves out.”
“Words can’t describe the way I feel about that young man,” added Martin on the performance of Gage Smith. “To ask a set-up guy to throw 75 pitches like we did was really a herculean effort.”
The Tallahassee, Fla., native scattered four hits and did not walk a batter while striking out four as it marked his longest outing since turning in 4.1 scoreless innings against Miami on April 22, 2012.
“I didn’t think it would be six innings; I knew it would be an extended outing but never would have thought six innings,” added Smith.
“I knew Gage would do a great job,” said Delph. “I am so confident in him that he is going to throw strikes and get groundballs.
Silva, who replaced Smith with two outs and Arden Pabst at second after singling to left and stealing second, kept the deficit at 4-2 as Daniel Spingola grounded out to first to end the inning.
Delph led all hitters on Sunday afternoon with three hits as the Bartow, Fla., native went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a single, two RBI and a run scored. He reached base in four of his five plate appearances in the series finale.
DJ Stewart picked up a pair of hits to extend his streak of reaching base to 56 straight games.
The Seminoles broke through with their first run of the game in the fifth on an RBI single by Stewart. Delph led off the inning with his second double of the game, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Stewart’s single up the middle. Florida State added another run in the inning when Stewart scored from third on a wild pitch by Clay.
Florida State returns home to face Jacksonville on Tuesday, April 15 with first pitch set for 6:00 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN3. Audio will be available on the Seminoles.com All-Access player. Locally fans can listen to the game on 1270 AM.