TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 8 Florida State (42-11, 18-10 ACC) fell to No. 19 Clemson (39-15, 18-10 ACC) 8-2 Thursday evening in game one of a three-game series on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. With the loss, the Seminoles and Tigers are now tied atop the ACC Atlantic Division with two games remaining, while NC State’s victory over Duke draws the Wolfpack within a half-game of the division lead.
Clemson scored a run in each of the first four innings on Thursday night including three in the third to run out to an early 6-0 advantage. The Tigers registered four extra base hits in the win including two home runs, one each by Steve Wilkerson and Thomas Brittle.
“If you get right down to it, we were outplayed tonight,” said head coach Mike Martin. “I thought they took the game to us and that is something that I have not seen all year long as far as our team is concerned. There are no excuses; I take responsibility for that, it was my fault that it happened. We are just going to correct that and play better tomorrow night.”
The run support was more than plenty for Tiger starter Daniel Gossett (9-3) who shut out the Seminoles for 6.0 innings scattering just three hits and three walks while striking out three.
“I thought he did a very good job of pitching with the lead,” said Martin. “He didn’t try and get cute; he came right at us.”
“He had a really good change-up tonight,” said Giovanny Alfonzo on Gossett’s outing. “He was using the fastball, change-up very good and he came out early throwing both pitches in the first two innings. He was deceiving with it. His curveball had a large break; he was a good pitcher. He fought hard and kept the ball down.”
The Seminoles broke through for their only runs of the game in the seventh against the Tiger bullpen when DJ Stewart registered a two-run single off Kyle Schnell. Seth Miller and Giovanny Alfonzo paced the Seminoles with two hits each in the game one loss.
“We fought hard, we had good at-bats,” said Martin. “We worked ourselves into hitter’s counts and walked seven times. It was just a situation where we would get runners on and they would make quality pitches. They played better than we did.”
Florida State had its chances to cut into Clemson’s lead with bases loaded opportunities in the fourth and seventh innings. Gossett kept the Seminoles off the scoreboard in the fourth when the Tiger right hander got Casey Smit to ground into an inning ending double play. In the seventh, Stephen McGee drew a walk to load the bases after coming within inches, two pitches before, of hitting a three-run home run as the ball sailed just wide of the left field foul pole. Patrick Andrews got out of the jam one batter later getting Jose Brizuela to fly out to left.
“We had a couple of chances to get back in it and of course you have to credit their guy for making a quality pitch and getting the groundball,” added Martin. “It is just a credit to them.”
Seminole starter Peter Miller (6-2) could not get out of the second inning on Thursday night as the junior starter was charged with two runs on three hits in 1.1 innings.
Dylan Sylvia worked a career-high 3.2 shutout innings allowing two hits and a walk while striking out two. Bryant Holtmann worked 2.2 innings giving up four runs on four hits. Kyle Bird also saw action in game one throwing 1.1 innings allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits.
Clemson got off to the quick start in game one when Wilkerson took the first pitch he saw from Miller in the top of the first out of the park to right center for his second home run of the season.
The Tigers built a 2-0 lead in the second on an RBI double to right off the bat of Tyler Slaton. Clemson loaded the bases in the inning off Miller ending the evening for the junior right hander after just 1.1 innings. The Seminoles escaped further damage as Holtmann came in and recorded a strikeout and groundout to retire the side.
Clemson added three runs in the top of the third to increase its lead to 5-0. Tyler Krieger brought home Garrett Boulware on an RBI groundout to short, while Brittle capped the scoring as he registered a two-run, inside-the-park home run. The senior outfielder ripped a line drive to center that Seth Miller tried to make a diving catch on but the ball evaded the glove and rolled all the way to the wall for Brittle’s second home run of the season.
Miller recorded the Seminoles’ first hit of the game in the third ripping a two-out base hit through the left side of the infield. He would be stranded on the base paths when Gossett got Stewart to fly out to center to retire the side.
Shane Kennedy gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead in the fourth on a two-out RBI single to left. Steven Duggar scored on the play after reaching on a single to left. Kennedy was thrown out at second for the final out of the inning as he tried to stretch his single into a double.
Clemson pushed its lead to 8-0 with two runs in the sixth off Bird. Wilkerson scored the first run of the inning on a fielder’s choice groundout to short while Duggar plated the second run on a passed ball.
The Seminoles cracked the scoreboard in the seventh on a two-run single through the left side off the bat of Stewart. Florida State loaded the bases with one out on a walk to John Sansone and back-to-back singles by Alfonzo and Miller. Stewart then hit a bounding ball through the left side of the infield to plate Sansone and Alfonzo to cut the deficit to 8-2.
Florida State and Clemson will return to the diamond for game two of the series on Friday, May 17. First pitch is set for 8:00 p.m. and will air live on ESPNU. Fans can listen to the game on the Seminoles.com All-Access player and locally on 1270 AM. As always, Seminole fans can follow the Noles on twitter @FSU_Baseball and remember to like the Seminoles on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FSUBaseball). Live stats will be available via gametracker.