TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 5 Florida State (19-1) scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth taking advantage of two crucial Stetson errors in the inning to post a 5-3 come-from-behind victory over the Hatters (10-10) Tuesday afternoon on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
“As a coach, you have to be very pleased and proud of the way our guys kept fighting,” said head coach Mike Martin. “I am proud that we won the ballgame, yes we were fortunate there is no question, but it’s still the bottom line that I am proud of those young men for getting the job done.”
The Seminoles plated a run in the second and led 1-0 through the first six innings before Stetson erupted for three runs in the top of the seventh to take a two-run lead.
Casey Smit put Florida State on the board early singling home Stephen McGee, who led off the bottom of the second with a double to left.
Both starting pitchers settled in after the Seminoles took the early led and neither would factor into the decision on Tuesday.
FSU starter Luke Weaver went 6.2 innings allowing two runs on seven hits as he walked one and struck out four. Stetson’s Kevin Fagan went 7.0 plus innings giving up two runs, one earned, on three hits as he walked three and struck out six in making his first start of the season.
Weaver kept the Stetson offense in check as he did not allow a runner past second base through the first six innings. In the seventh, the Hatters put together back-to-back one-out hits including a single by Robert Bruce and a double down the line in left by Tyler Bocock. On the play, DJ Stewart misplayed the ball down the line allowing Bruce to score all the way from first. Weaver bounced back to get K’shawn Smith swinging on strikes as that would be the final batter he would face on Tuesday.
“I thought Luke pitched extremely well,” said Martin. “It was one of those that I kind of wish he could have gone longer but he was at 100 pitches and it was time to get him with a lefty coming up.”
Kyle Bird came on and gave up an RBI single to Fagan which scored Bocock to give the Hatters their first lead of the game at 2-1. Then the second error of the inning by the Seminoles led to another run as Fagan scored all the way from first on a throwing error by Jose Brizuela at third on a groundball off the bat of Mitchel Brennan to give Stetson a 3-1 lead.
Fagan also did his part to silence the Florida State bats on Tuesday. After giving up a two out walk to Stewart in the third, the freshman right hander retired 11 straight Seminole hitters before Ladson Montgomery reached on a throwing error at second by Bocock in the seventh. Fagan would return to the hill to start the eighth but was pulled after giving up a leadoff single to Giovanny Alfonzo.
“Fagan was absolutely beautiful,” said Martin. “He kept us totally off balanced; he spotted his pitches well. You really have to give him a lot of credit.”
The wheels would come off for the Hatters after the Alfonzo single as Stetson committed to fielding errors on fly balls to the outfield that lead to the four-run eighth. Pinch hitter Marcus Davis reached when his fly ball was dropped in centerfield. With two on and no outs, Josh Delph singled through the left side of the infield followed by an RBI single through the right side by Brizuela. Cameron Griffin then got Stewart to ground into a double play, but Davis scored on the play to tie the game at 3-3. After McGee was intentionally walked and another Stetson pitching change, Joe Dye got John Nogowski to hit a fly ball that would have ended the inning but it went in and out of the glove of the Hatter right fielder. Delph scored on the play to give the Noles the lead for good. McGee would plate the final run of the inning on a wild pitch by Tyler Warmoth to give FSU a 5-3 advantage.
“We did have some very good at-bats in the eighth inning,” added Martin. “I was glad to see us get into counts and do the little things that it takes to be successful.”
Jameis Winston (1-0) pitched the final two innings to earn his first collegiate victory. The freshman right hander retired all six batters that he faced on three groundouts, a pair of line outs and a strikeout. Smit made an outstanding, over the head catch on a flare sent out to right field by pinch hit Konnor Lutz for the final out of the game.
“We pretty much made our minds up before the start of the game that we were going to give the ball to Jameis,” said Martin. “Today, he goes out; he doesn’t walk anybody, strikes out one and retires all six that he faced. It was a credit to him, a good performance by Jameis.”
Florida State and Stetson return to the diamond for game two of the mid-week series on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium Wednesday, March 20 at 4:00 p.m. The game will air live over the internet on Seminoles.com All-Access. Fans can listen to the game live on the All-Access player. Locally, fans can listen to the games 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 for all three games will be available via gametracker.