TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A three-run third inning and 7.0 shutout innings from Luke Weaver was all fourth-ranked Florida State (40-13, 20-8) needed Thursday night as the Seminoles blanked Duke (31-22, 15-13) 3-0 in front of 4,326 on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium.
Three Florida State pitchers combined for the six-hit shutout as Weaver (8-3) led the way holding an opponent off the scoreboard for the second straight outing. The junior right hander scattered five hits over 7.0 innings as he issued one walk and struck out four to earn his eighth win of the season.
“Luke Weaver gave us exactly what we needed,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “He was coming back pitching a day earlier than usual and yet threw 92 pitches. He pitched beautifully, an absolutely beautiful baseball game. We got some timely hits but Luke Weaver was definitely the story tonight.”
After issuing a leadoff walk to Mark Lumpa to open the game, Weaver retired eight in a row before Lumpa registered a two-out bloop single to short center in the third. The DeLand, Fla, native then retired 10 straight Blue Devil hitters before Duke strung together three consecutive one-out singles to load the bases in the top of the seventh.
Weaver got out of the jam thanks to two nice defensive plays by Justin Gonzalez at short. The senior from Miami, Fla., used every inch of his vertical to snare a soft line drive off the bat of Ryan Deitrich for out number two. Gonzalez then made a nice play on a slow grounder off the bat of Kenny Koplove to throw the Blue Devil batter out at first to end the threat.
“Usually in those situations I am not a happy camper,” said Weaver. “It’s not your ideal situation you want to be in; it’s just a grind out attitude. I am trying to stay composed and stick to my game. It definitely gives me that drive to get out of the inning.
“He did,” said Weaver on getting a couple nice plays from Gonzalez in the seventh. “The whole infield was working today, left and right side; he just did a great job in those moments to help me out.”
“Luke is pitching very well,” said Martin. “He’s got all three pitches; the other club is not able to sit on one pitch. He is throwing three pitches very well. Coach Bell is doing a great job calling the ball game.”
Gage Smith and Jameis Winston pitched the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to preserve Florida State’s seventh shutout of the season.
Smith registered back-to-back groundouts before giving up a single to Jordan Betts, but retired the side on a fly out to center by Chris Marconcini.
Winston pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his sixth save of the season.
“You look at what the ball club accomplished and obviously it makes all of our staff proud, but we know that there’s still some very important games left before anything is decided,” said Martin. “We can’t dwell on this win tonight. You saw a very good Duke ball club. I thought they played a solid game.”
All the scoring on Thursday night came in the bottom of the third when the Seminoles plated three runs off Duke starter Andrew Istler (8-7).
“We were very proud of the way that inning went,” added Martin. “We got some key hits to score some runs.”
John Sansone ripped a double down the line in left to open the inning, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored two batters later on a single through the left side by Danny De La Calle. After a walk to Josh Delph, De La Calle would score on a single through the right side by Casey Smit. DJ Stewart brought home Delph for the third run of the inning on an RBI groundout to second.
“Being able to put up a couple runs like we did, that’s a big booster for our whole team,” said Smit. “It was a tough game, but being able to rally hits like we did is a great feeling for the whole team and it keeps everyone going.”
De La Calle led the Seminoles with two hits in game one of the series as the junior catcher reached base on all three of his plate appearances with two singles and a walk.
Florida State reached the 40-win plateau for the 37th year in a row following Thursday night’s victory. The Seminoles also earned their 20th league victory of the season marking the seventh time in school history that FSU has won at least 20 ACC games.
“I am just very thankful and appreciative to have coached at Florida State during this time and that is an accomplishment in which the players deserve all the credit for the dedication and hard work that they put in,” said Martin on reaching 40 wins. “It is hard to do that and our team deserves all the credit. We played a tough schedule and to accomplish that, the credit goes to them.”
Florida State and Duke are back at it for game two of the series on Friday, May 16 at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to join us at the ballpark during pregame festivities on Friday night as Florida State's interim President Garnett Stokes will pay tribute to Seminole Baseball's graduating class which include seven student-athletes and two student managers.
Friday’s game will also provide fans with pack 2 of 2 of the Seminole Baseball trading cards.
The game will air on 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.