Tallahassee - No. 5 Florida State (6-0) broke a 4-4 tie scoring six runs over its final two at-bats as the Seminoles defeated Georgia (1-5) 10-4 on Saturday afternoon to clinch the weekend series.
In front of packed house of 6,568, the ninth largest crowd to watch a game on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium, the Seminoles have now won seven straight at home over Georgia.
“A lot of times you see a score of 10-4 and you think that was a so-called runaway,” Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin said. “There were many, many things that were done in that ball game in which I tip my hat to our guys for staying tough. I am very proud of the way we got it done. It is never easy. Georgia is an outstanding ball club. They are a young club but they are going to get better and better as they go through this thing.
“Our ball club showed that they are not going to let up and that comes from within. That is how they play the game. It’s a 27-out ball game and they are going to make you play for 27 outs. I am proud of them.”
DJ Stewart had a big afternoon going 2-for-3 with a home run and a double as he scored three times, drove in two runs and walked twice. His first walk in the first inning extended his streak of reaching base to 33 straight games.
“We had some guys that certainly delivered,” said Martin. “DJ hit the big home run and then the big double. He has a way of making those around him better; the way he plays the game, the way he approaches the game. It is just really fun to have him on our ball club.”
The bottom of the Seminole order did its part on Saturday as John Sansone, Ben DeLuzio and Danny De La Calle combined for five hits, six RBI, four walks and three runs scored in the win. De La Calle finished with two hits and three RBI, while DeLuzio added a double and a single, two walks and two RBI. Sansone drew a pair of walks and connected on a two-out RBI double in the eighth.
“It’s huge,” added Stewart on the production from the bottom of the order. “They are not typical bottom of the line-up hitters. He (Danny) is leading our team in RBIs right now and he is hitting in the nine-hole for us that just shows you how deep our line-up is.”
All three were instrumental in breaking the game open late as Florida State grabbed the lead for good with four runs in the seventh. The big hit in the inning came off the bat of De La Calle as the junior catcher delivered a two-out, two-run single to center to give the Noles an 8-4 advantage.
“At the beginning of the day, I didn’t feel too good, but something just clicked,” said De La Calle. “I was able to get some key hits in key situations today. I just wanted to be able to produce for my team.”
Sansone and DeLuzio added to FSU’s lead in the eighth knocking in the final two runs of the game both with two outs in the inning. Sansone brought home Stewart on an RBI double down the line in left, while DeLuzio drove in John Nogowski beating out an infield single to short.
“Soni has been swinging the bat well, Meat has made some adjustments with him and he has also made some adjustments with DeLuzio and De La Calle,” added Martin. “Both of them are starting to gain confidence. They are becoming more acclimated as we go through this and it’s great to see Danny get two. Got a big RBI single from DeLuzio and Soni had some quality at-bats.”
Gage Smith (1-0) picked up the win in relief as the senior right hander shut down the Bulldogs for 1.1 innings in game two. Smith entered the game in the top of the sixth with Georgia leading 4-3 and looking to add more with the bases loaded and two outs. But the Tallahassee, Fla., native closed the door on UGA getting Hunter Cole to ground into a fielder’s choice putout at second base to retire the side.
“I can’t tell you how I felt when I looked out there and I said, ‘well there’s Gager, he is under control…I know he is in total control of his emotions and of the situation that’s around him.’ I am very pleased with Gage,” said Martin.
Dylan Silva and Jameis Winston pitched the eighth and ninth inning, respectively to close out the win. Silva faced five batters in the eighth working around a hit-by-pitch and a walk with two outs to get Nelson Ward swinging on strikes to end the inning.
In the ninth, Winston retired the Bulldogs in order with a fly out and back-to-back strikeouts.
FSU starter Brandon Leibrandt did not factor into the decision on Saturday as the junior southpaw went 5.0 innings allowing three runs on five hits as he walked two and struck out five.
Georgia starter Sean McLaughlin also did not factor into the decision as the sophomore right hander went 4.0 plus innings allowing three runs on four hits.
The two schools went back and forth through the first six innings scoring a run in the first two innings before exchanging two runs in the third and a run in the sixth.
Georgia went on top early with a run in the first as Stephen Wrenn led off the game with an infield single to short. He would score all the way from first just two batters later on a double to the gap in right center by Cole.
The Seminoles evened the game at one in the second as Jose Brizuela led off the inning with a single up the middle, stole second and scored on DeLuzio’s two-out RBI double to left.
Cole gave Georgia a 3-1 lead in the third connecting on a two-run shot to left. The junior left fielder took a 2-1 pitch from Leibrandt out of the park for his first home run of the season.
Stewart answered the call in the bottom of the inning with his own two-run shot, this one to right center. After McLaughlin issued a walk to Justin Gonzalez, Stewart took the first pitch from the Bulldog starter over the fence in right center for his first home run of the season.
“He threw me a fastball right down the middle and I got every bit of it,” said Stewart. “It was one of those that I was telling the guys, ‘I hit it so good, I didn’t even feel it come off the bat.’ I squared it up perfectly.”
After Georgia reclaimed the lead in the sixth with an RBI single by Cody McCance, Florida State answered right back to tie the game once again, this time thanks to De La Calle. With Sansone and DeLuzio aboard after drawing back-to-back walks, the Miami, Fla., native stepped in and produced collecting an RBI single to left to tie the game at 4-4.
UGA’s Jared Cheek (0-2) suffered the loss on Saturday as he allowed four runs on just one hit as he walked three in an inning of work.
Florida State and Georgia will wrap-up the three game series on Sunday, February 23 at 1:00 p.m. Right hander Mike Compton will be on the hill for the Seminoles while Georgia will send out left hander Patrick Boiling. The game will air live on ESPN3, while fans can listen to the game on Seminoles.com All-Access and locally on 100.7 FM. Live stats will be available via gametracker.