TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Three Seminole pitchers combined for a three-hit shutout Tuesday night under the lights on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium as fifth-ranked Florida State (31-9) shut out Stetson (17-25), 4-0, in game one of a two-game mid-week series.
Billy Strode (1-1) went 6.0 innings for the second straight start as the junior southpaw allowed just two hits and a walk while tying a season-high with five strikeouts to pick-up his first win of the season.
“Billy Strode really kept everything under control,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “Had all three pitches going; it was a good, good outing for him.”
Gage Smith worked a scoreless seventh and eighth innings giving up just one hit as he finished with a strikeout. Jameis Winston closed the door on Stetson in the ninth as he struck out three of the four batters that he faced.
“Gage came in and did what Gage does, kept everything right there,” added Martin. “Jameis pitched very well. It was a good win for us tonight.”
The shutout was FSU’s fourth of the season and first since Luke Weaver’s complete game shutout against Boston College in Rhode Island on March 28.
The night did not start off well for Strode as the Hatters quickly loaded the bases in the top of the first as the first three batters to the plate reached on a walk, hit-by-pitch and single. But Strode got Josh Powers looking at a called third strike and then got an outstanding play by catcher Danny De La Calle to turn an inning ending double play.
“Billy did a nice job of getting us out of the inning there,” said Martin. “It was a very good play (by Danny). There were a lot of nice plays tonight by our guys.”
With one out and the bases loaded, Stetson catcher Garrett Russini hit a ball that died just in front of home plate. De La Calle jumped out of his stance, grabbed the ball, stepped on home plate and then fired a strike over the head of Russini running down the baseline to John Nogowski at first to complete the double play and get out of the jam.
From that point forward, Strode did not allow a runner past first over the next five innings.
The Seminoles gave Strode all the run support he would need in the bottom of the first when Josh Delph ripped a double to right center, moved to third on a sac-bunt by Casey Smit and scored on a sac-fly to center off the bat of DJ Stewart.
Florida State pushed its lead to 2-0 on another sac-fly this time by Jose Brizuela in the bottom of the fourth. Nogowski led off the inning with a double to right center, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on Brizuela’s sac-fly to right field.
Stetson threatened in the top of the eighth loading the bases with only out on off Smith. Robert Bruce got things going with a pinch hit single to right and advanced to third on a fielding error in left on a fly ball off the bat of Kevin Fagan. Smith then hit Tyler Bocock with a pitch to load the bases. The Tallahassee, Fla., native would keep FSU’s two-run lead intact as he got the Hatters’ leading hitter on the year, Patrick Mazeika, to fly out to Brett Knief in short right and then Powers looking at a called third strike to retire the side.
“Gage took everything into his hands, got a key strikeout and a pop-up; we were very fortunate to get out of a very, very tough situation,” added Martin.
The Seminoles rode that momentum into the bottom of the eighth scoring two more runs for the final margin. Nogowski drew a one-out walk, moved to third when Brizuela connected on a double down the line in right and scored when the throw from Fagan out in right went to no man’s land in between short and third. Brizuela would score a batter later on an RBI double by Justin Gonzalez.
Gonzalez tied a season-high with three hits on Tuesday night as the senior shortstop collected a pair of singles and a double. Delph continued his hot hitting finishing the night 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
Stewart extended his school-record streak of reaching base in consecutive games to 61 as he was hit by a pitch in the fifth.
Stetson starter Mitchell Jordan (2-6) suffered the loss as he allowed two runs on five hits in 4.0 innings of work. Jordan walked one and struck out one on 59 pitches.
The two teams are back at it on Wednesday, April 23 with first pitch set for 4:00 p.m. The game will be streamed live on the Seminoles.com All-Access player ($). Audio will also be available on the All-Access player. Locally fans can listen to the game on 1270 AM.
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.