TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Fifth-ranked Florida State (43-16) dropped its opening game of the 2014 Tallahassee Regional falling to Georgia Southern (40-21) 7-0 Friday evening on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
Eagle starting pitcher Sam Howard (7-6) got some early run support and kept the Seminole bats at-bay for nine innings in throwing a complete game, two-hit shutout.
“We were totally dominated by Sam Howard who did a beautiful job, a great job of pitching,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “We fought, and that’s all you can ask out of our team.
“You tip your hat to Georgia Southern, plain and simple. They were beautiful. They deserved to win….have got to give them a lot of credit, they got it done. We had three guys I think that got to third base, that’s quite a credit to Howard and the coaching staff at Georgia Southern.”
The loss snapped FSU’s 19-game winning streak in regional play as it marked the Seminoles first set back in the NCAA regionals since falling to Bucknell, 7-0, in the opening game of the 2008 Tallahassee Regional.
Florida State bounced back from that opening round loss in 2008 winning four straight elimination games to claim the regional title as the Seminoles defeated Florida, Bucknell and Tulane twice outscoring the opposition 74-35 over that stretch.
The shutout on Friday night was just the second time the Seminoles were held without a run this year.
“I just know what I told the ball club and that is that I’ve believed in them all year,” added Martin. “We’ve got a bunch of fighters, battlers. We know we’ve got an uphill battle but we’ll be on time for tomorrow and see what happens.”
Howard allowed just seven base runners all evening with three of those coming in the ninth. He gave up two hits and three walks, while the other runner reached on catcher’s interference. After giving up a single to Jose Brizuela to open the second, Howard retired 15 straight batters before DJ Stewart led off the seventh with an infield single to second.
“He threw strikes,” said Stewart on Howard’s performance. “We were behind before we knew it. We put a couple good swings on the ball and just hit it right to them. He only allowed like two or three leadoff runners to get on so he was always working with an out. He did a good job of getting that first guy and letting the defense work for him.”
The Seminoles would not go quietly in the ninth loading the bases with two outs. John Nogowski and Brizuela drew back-to-back walks, while Ben DeLuzio reached on the interference. But Howard responded by getting John Sansone looking at a called third strike to end the game.
Howard became the first pitcher to throw a complete game shutout against the Seminoles since Bucknell’s Mathew Wilson accomplished the feat back on May 30, 2008.
The Eagles out hit Florida State 16-2 on Friday night as nine of GSU’s 16 hits went for extra bases including seven doubles and two home runs. The two hits marked a season-low for the Seminoles as the previous low of three came against Niagara in the second game of the year.
Mike Compton suffered the loss falling to 7-3 on the year. The Branson, Mo., native threw just 26 pitches in 1.1 innings of work Friday night tying his shortest outing of his career. The sophomore right hander was charged with two runs on five hits as he walked one.
Georgia Southern grabbed the early lead plating two runs off Compton in the top of the first. Kody Adams opened the game with a single to left, stole second and scored two batters later on a double to right center by Aaron Mizell. Mizell would score the second run of the inning on a two-out base hit up the middle by Garren Palmer. The Eagles looked to add more in the inning on a double down the line in right by Hunter Thomas but a great relay throw from Josh Delph to Sansone to Danny De La Calle cut down Palmer at the plate.
Compton’s night would come to an end after the Eagles put runners at second and third with one in the second. Billy Strode came on and left the runners stranded as he recorded back-to-back strikeouts, both looking, to keep the deficit at 2-0.
The Eagles capitalized on Florida State’s second error of the game in the sixth to push their lead to 3-0. Chase Griffin reached to open the inning on a throwing error at third, moved to second on a sac-bunt and into third on a groundout to second. Ben Morgan then dropped a two-out bloop single down the line in right off Gage Smith to bring home Griffin for GSU’s third run of the game.
Georgia Southern added to its lead in the seventh plating a run against Alec Byrd. Stryker Brown led off the inning with a single up the middle and scored two batters later on a double down the line in right by Garrett Chapman. Brandon Johnson came on in relief of Byrd and retired the next two batters on a strikeout and fly out to first to retire the side.
Stewart led off the bottom of the seventh with an infield single becoming FSU first base runner to reach since the second. Prior to the base hit, Howard retired 15 straight Seminole hitters. The junior southpaw would keep FSU off the scoreboard retiring the next three Seminole hitters on a groundout, strikeout and fly out.
Georgia Southern connected on two home runs, both on two outs, off Johnson in the ninth to extend its lead to 7-0. Chapman hit the first, a solo shot to left, his eighth of the season, while Dalton Busby added a two-run shot off the scoreboard for the final margin.
Florida State is back in action at the 2014 NCAA Tallahassee Regional on Saturday, May 31 against Alabama in an elimination game. First pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m. The game will air live on ESPNU.
RHP Luke Weaver will be on the hill for the Seminoles, while Alabama will throw LHP Justin Kamplain.
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 through the ACC’s website.