WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Fifth-ranked Florida State (29-8, 15-4) tripped up Wake Forest (24-16, 11-8), 7-1, Friday night on Gene Hooks Field in game one of a three-game series between the ACC’s top two teams in the Atlantic Division.
The win pushed the Seminoles lead to four games over the Demon Deacons in the race for the division title with Clemson now three and a half games behind FSU after its 3-2 win over Pittsburgh in 11 innings Friday night.
Luke Weaver (6-3) was masterful on the mound as the junior right hander went the distance for his second complete game of the season. Weaver allowed just one run as he scattered three hits and one walk over nine innings while striking out seven. Six of his seven strikeouts came from the sixth inning on including two in the eighth and two more in the ninth to close out the game.
“We had the scouting report that Wake Forest was an aggressive team,” said Weaver. “Definitely with the turf, it slows things down. I think back to Boston College, I just tried to locate in the zone, get groundballs and it worked for me then and I just tried to take in the same approach tonight. Later in the game, I think they tried to do too much and I was just happening to locate better. It just all came together as the game kept going, I was just trying to give our team a chance to win.”
Along with Weaver’s dominant performance, DJ Stewart entered the Seminole record books Friday night breaking Shane Robinson’s record of reaching base in consecutive games. The sophomore left fielder needed his final at-bat in the ninth to break the record as he laced a two-out, two-run, 0-2 pitch back up the middle to extend his streak to 58 games.
“That is really hard to do,” said assistant coach Mike Martin, Jr. “There is a lot of unselfishness in there as well when you think about 58 games to grind out at-bats, take hit-by-pitches, walks; obviously he is a great hitter, but you are not going to do this if you are selfish and DJ is not that kind of hitter.”
“Honestly, it’s a great honor,” added Stewart on achieving the record Friday night. “The last guy to have it, Shane Robinson, he is a big leaguer. I mean he was a leadoff batter and that is what I pride myself on, honestly, is just getting on base. If I am getting on base then that means my team is winning. A big credit to it is that I led-off pretty much my entire life until I got to Florida State, I became a two and three-hole hitter. My whole life I have been a leadoff hitter and that is what my dad has always taught me, get on base and when you get two strikes, hit it wherever they pitch it, just get on base and try and produce for your team.”
All of this happened Friday night without head coach Mike Martin in the dugout. The Hall of Fame head coach missed the opening game of the series against Wake Forest as he was suffering from flu-like symptoms. It marked the first time in Mike Martin Jr.’s 17-year coaching career at Florida State that he could remember not having his dad in the dugout for a game.
“This is the first time in 17 years that I can think of that he wasn’t around,” said Martin, Jr. “It was kind of weird but we stayed with the same philosophy and the guys got after it. I called him (earlier) and he didn’t sound good. I thought he would shake it off like he always does, but he was hurting pretty good. He was trying to get here but he just didn’t feel up to it.
“Weaver pitched a great ball game; obviously very excited for DJ to get that record because that is really impressive. When a guy locks in like he (Weaver) did, there weren’t a lot of decisions to be made.”
The victory also moved Martin within one of reaching career-win No. 1800. He would become just the third coach in Division I history to reach the historic milestone.
After both starting pitcher’s exchanged zeroes through the first four innings, Florida State struck first giving Weaver all the run support he would need by throwing a three spot on the board in the top of the fifth. John Sansone got things going with a double to the wall in right, moved to third on a groundout to short by Ben DeLuzio and scored on a groundball off the bat of Danny De La Calle. Wake third baseman Will Craig tried to go home on the play but his throw was high allowing Sansone to slide in safely for the first run of the game.
The Seminoles tacked on two more runs in the inning taking advantage of two Wake Forest errors to push their lead to 3-0. With runners at the corners, Justin Gonzalez singled through the right side on a check swing to score De La Calle. Josh Delph plated the third run of the inning on a sac-fly to center off the bat of Stewart.
Wake’s only run of the game came in the eighth on a solo home run off the bat of Nate Mondou. The Demon Deacon second baseman took a 1-0 pitch from Weaver out of the park to right for his fourth home run of the season.
The Seminoles broke the game open in the ninth with a pair of two-out, two-run singles by Stewart and John Nogowski. Sansone and DeLuzio opened the inning with a walk and single, respectively, and both moved up 90 feet on a sac-bunt by De La Calle. After a Delph walk loaded the bases, Gonzalez lifted a shallow fly out to left for the second out of the inning. Stewart then stepped to the plate and got behind quickly 0-2 to Max Tishman but took the third pitch from the Deacon reliever back up the middle scoring two to give FSU a 5-1 lead. Nogowski followed with another two-out single, this time to right, to plate a pair and give the Seminoles a 7-1 advantage.
“Their pitcher made two really good pitches, first two pitches curveballs away,” said Stewart. “I was honestly pressing a little bit, probably shouldn’t have swung at either one of them. Third pitch was another curveball, he just left it up a little bit and I was able to just hit it back up the middle.”
Jose Brizuela tied a career-high with three hits on the night as the junior third baseman registered three singles. Nogowski went 2-for-5 in the win, while Delph and Sansone each scored two runs. Stewart finished the night with a game-high three RBI.
Jake Fischer (4-4) took the loss for the Deacs as the senior right hander was charged with three runs, one earned, on six hits as he walked one and struck out five in 8.0 innings of work.
Florida State and Wake Forest return to the field for game two of the series on Saturday, April 19 at 4:00 p.m. The game will be streamed live on Wake Forest’s All-Access player ($). Audio will be available on the Seminoles.com All-Access player. Locally fans can listen to the game on 100.7 FM.
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.