TAMPA, Fla. – On a day when the score didn’t matter, second-ranked Florida State made a point to enjoy every minute of its time on the field inside Steinbrenner Field Tuesday afternoon in an exhibition game against the New York Yankees.
In the end, the Yankees came out on top defeating the Seminoles 8-3, but for the guys in the Garnet & Gold it was the memories of playing against Major League Baseball’s most storied franchise that they will remember forever.
“It was a very memorable day for all of us,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “From the way that we were treated here, by a class organization, from top management all the way down, it was very emotional for our guys because they will never forget this.”
Brett Knief, a native of Ramsey, N.J., paced the Florida State offense on Tuesday going 3-for-3 against the Yankees. Knief led off the second with an infield single to short. He then legged out an infield single to third, followed by an infield single to second in FSU’s three-run sixth.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” said Knief. “To play against my favorite team and my hometown team, I live right down the road really, so it was an amazing day. To look over and see manager Joe Girardi sitting there, I thought to myself ‘this is a little different than usual.’ It was a big day; it was amazing.”
John Nogowski registered a ground rule double that one hopped the screen in dead center field in the fourth, while Casey Smit drove in all three of the Seminoles’ runs with a base clearing two-out double in the sixth.
“This was a game that was fun for us and fun for them,” added Smit. “You rarely get to play a major league team, so to come out here and play against them is an experience that everyone will remember.”
DJ Stewart began FSU’s two-out rally in the sixth crushing a double to left center. The Yulee, Fla., native moved to third on Knief’s infield single to second. After John Nogowski drew a walk to load the bases, Smit cleared the bases with a double to left center to cut the deficit to 5-3.
“Bases loaded you really just want to hit the ball hard and come through for your team,” said Smit. “I got a good pitch to hit and did some damage with it.”
Josh Delph and Ben DeLuzio all picked up a single in the game, while Hank Truluck put together an outstanding at-bat with two outs in the ninth coming through with a double down the line in left.
Eight different Seminole pitchers all worked an inning on Tuesday with Mike Compton getting the start after Sunday’s game against Georgia was cancelled due to rain.
The redshirt sophomore right hander gave up a single to Brett Gardner to open the inning but quickly erased the Yankee leadoff hitter from the base paths as he got Francisco Cervelli to ground into a double play. Compton then retired the side getting Kelly Johnson looking at a called third strike.
Peter Miller, Brandon Johnson, Taylor Blatch, Bryant Holtmann, Jim Voyles, Billy Strode and Alec Byrd all got into the game against the Yankees.
Both Holtmann and Strode worked around singles in their scoreless inning in relief. Holtmann recorded a pair of foul pop-ups to first and a groundout, while Strode struck out two and registered a foul out to third.
Florida State returns to action on Friday, February 28 when the Seminoles host the Miami Hurricanes for a three-game, non-conference series on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. Games one and two of the series will broadcast live on ESPN3, while Sunday’s game will air over the internet on Seminoles.com All-Access. Fans can listen to all three games on All-Access and locally on 1270 AM (Friday) and 100.7 FM (Saturday & Sunday). Live stats will be available via gametracker.