Greensboro, NC - Fourth-ranked Florida State (42-14) opened the 2014 ACC Baseball Championship with a 7-1 victory over North Carolina (33-24) Wednesday evening inside NewBridge Bank Park.
With the win, the Seminoles improved to 1-0 in pool ‘B’ play, while the Tar Heels dropped to 0-1.
FSU starter Billy Strode (2-1) gave the Seminoles six shutout innings on Wednesday night as the Seminoles snapped a seven-game losing streak in the ACC Tournament. The junior right hander tied a career-high in innings pitched, while tying a season-high with five strikeouts.
Strode opened the game retiring 11 straight UNC hitters before Landon Lassiter reached on a two-out single in the fourth. The Tar Heels put two on in the fifth on back-to-back singles by Alex Raburn and Tyler Ramirez, but Strode got out of the inning as designated hitter Adrian Chacon grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. The Parkland, Fla., native faced the minimum in the sixth after inducing the Tar Heels into another inning ending double play.
Justin Gonzalez paced the Seminole offense on Wednesday night with two hits and two RBI. The senior shortstop got Florida State on the board in the bottom of the second with a two-out RBI single and then belted a solo shot in the sixth.
Josh Delph and Jose Brizuela finished with two hits each, while Danny De La Calle opened the scoring in FSU’s four-run fourth with a two-run double. John Nogowski capped the scoring with a solo home run in the seventh.
The win moved Florida State to 9-1 all-time against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament. It also marked the Seminoles first opening round win in the championship since 2009 in Durham, a 7-2 victory over Boston College.
The Seminoles struck early Wednesday night on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Gonzalez. With Ben DeLuzio at second after drawing a walk, the senior captain sent a 2-2 pitch from UNC starter Taylore Cherry (2-3) through the left side plating DeLuzio to give FSU an early 1-0 advantage.
Florida State pushed across four runs in the bottom of the fourth off Cherry to take a 5-0 lead. De La Calle opened the scoring with a double down the line in left with the bases loaded to score a pair. Delph followed with an RBI groundout to second, while Casey Smit brought home De La Calle for the fourth run of the inning on a single through the right side.
Gonzalez added to the lead with a solo shot in the sixth to extend the Florida State lead to 6-0. The Miami, Fla., native took a 3-2 pitch from Cherry out of the park to left for his third home run of the season and 24th of his career.
The Tar Heels scored their lone run of the night in the seventh taking advantage of a Seminole fielding error. UNC put runners at second and third with one out when Raburn singled through the left side of the infield to bring home Lassiter and cut the Seminole lead to 6-1. Gage Smith, who started the top of the seventh, got out of the inning as Ramirez grounded into a double play, UNC’s third of the night.
Florida State got the run back in the bottom of the inning as Nogowski left the park for his fifth home run of the season. The junior first baseman took a 3-2 pitch from Henry Sisson out to left as the Seminoles pushed their lead back to six at 7-1.
Smith worked 2.0 innings in relief as he allowed the one unearned run on two hits while striking out one.
Jameis Winston pitched the ninth and worked around a one-out walk recording a fly out and then a strikeout to end the game.
Florida State will take Thursday off before returning to pool play on Friday, May 23 at 11:00 a.m. against sixth-seeded Maryland.
The game will air on FS Florida and ESPN3 and audio will be available on the Seminoles.com All-Access player. Locally fans can listen to the game on 1270 AM. 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.