ATLANTA, Ga. – Top-ranked Florida State could not overcome Georgia Tech’s five-run first inning as the Seminoles (26-7, 13-3) fell to the Yellow Jackets (22-13, 9-7), 5-3, in game one of a three-game series Friday night inside Russ Chandler Stadium.
“It was a game in which we made some mistakes early and Georgia Tech took advantage of them,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “We give up five and all of sudden we are behind the eight ball. But I was very proud of the way the guys fought back and got back in it.”
Josh Heddinger (2-1) kept the Seminole bats off-balanced in his 5.0 plus innings of work in game one as Florida State did not register its first hit of the game until Danny De La Calle led off the top of the sixth with a single up the middle. Heddinger would leave the game after facing two more batters in the inning as the junior right hander was charged with two runs, one earned, as he gave up two hits and a walk, while striking out five.
“He kept us off-balanced,” said Martin on the performance of Heddinger. “In fact, we didn’t get a hit off him until the sixth. He gives up two hits and two runs and walks one; that’s pretty impressive stuff for five full innings.”
“He was working the corners and keeping us off-balanced,” added senior captain Justin Gonzalez. “More importantly he was throwing strikes. When you get a lead like that, he was able to get comfortable and that is the last thing you want with any starting pitcher you face. Huge credit to them, they played a great game.”
The Seminoles did not get off to a great start on Friday night as Georgia Tech scored five runs in the bottom of the first off FSU starter Luke Weaver (5-3). The first six Yellow Jacket hitters reached before Florida State recorded its first out.
Georgia Tech registered three hits, took advantage of a Seminole fielding error, drew a bases loaded walk and was hit by a pitch all in the first. Matt Gonzalez drove in the Yellow Jackets’ first run of the inning on an RBI single through the left side. A.J. Murray then drew a bases loaded walk, while Connor Justus laced a two-run single to left center. Keenan Innis drove in the fifth and final run of the inning on a fielder’s choice putout at second.
“We made a couple of mistakes behind him,” added Martin on the first inning. “After the first, he really settled in and started throwing all three pitches to location. He did a great job for us tonight.”
After the hiccup in the first, Weaver settled down blanking the Yellow Jackets over the next six innings. The junior right hander retired seven straight hitters at one point before giving up a single to Mott Hyde to open the bottom of the fifth. He was quickly retired on a 6-4-3 groundball double play. In the sixth, Murray led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a sac-bunt. He was stranded at third as Weaver got a groundball to short with the infield playing in and then a swinging strikeout to retire the side.
“We just have to do a better job,” said Gonzalez. “Weaver pitched his butt off tonight. It was an unfortunate start for him. We just have to play better. I wish we could have gotten more runs for Weaver.”
In 7.0 innings of work, Weaver allowed five runs, four earned, on six hits as he walked two and struck out five.
De La Calle’s single in the sixth paved the way for FSU’s first two runs of the game as the Seminoles cut the deficit to 5-2. Casey Smit followed with a single through the right side off Heddinger moving De La Calle to third. Gonzalez stepped in and drove in the Seminoles’ first run of the game on a groundball to third that Brandon Gold could not cleanly field. After a Georgia Tech pitching change brought on Sam Clay, DJ Stewart took the first offering from the Yellow Jacket southpaw through the left side for an RBI single.
The Seminoles got a run in the seventh when Gonzalez drew a walk with the bases loaded. Florida State looked to add more in the inning but a line drive off the bat of Stewart went right to Justus at shortstop, who threw on to second, for an inning ending double play.
Florida State put two on in the eighth on a double by John Nogowski and a hit-by-pitch to John Sansone off Dusty Isaacs but the Yellow Jacket closer got out of the jam as he got Ben DeLuzio swinging on strikes for the final out of the inning.
A lead-off single by pinch hitter Ladson Montgomery to open the ninth off Isaacs went to no avail as the senior right hander registered a fielder’s choice groundout, a line out and a groundout to first to the next three batters to end the game. The save for Isaacs was his third of the season.
Five different Seminoles recorded a hit in the loss, while Gonzalez drove in a team-high two runs. Stewart extended his streak of reaching base in consecutive games to 54 in a row as he drew a two-out walk in the top of the first.
Gage Smith worked a perfect eighth inning, facing the minimum, as the senior right hander made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday night.
Florida State and Georgia Tech are back at it for game two of the series on Saturday, April 12 with first pitch set for 2:00 p.m. The game will air live on the regional sports network and on Fox Sports Florida. 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.