Sloppy defense plagues FSU in loss to Ole Miss

FSU baseball 2021 Oxford Regional
FSU baseball 2021 Oxford Regional(Ryan Kelly | WCTV)
Updated: Jun. 5, 2021 at 10:56 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - For the second day in a row Florida State overcame a first-inning two-run deficit and appeared to be in control late in the game.

After struggling to generate any offense against Ole Miss’ First-Team All-American lefty Doug Nikhazy the first couple of times through the order, the Seminoles finally broke through in the fifth inning. Isaiah Perry, making just his 12th at-bat of the season, began the scoring rally with a homer to left on a 1-2 breaking ball to cut the Rebels’ lead in half. It was Perry’s first-career homer and his first hit since April 27th.

After Tyler Martin then reached on an E6, Logan Lacey came to the plate with one out and cranked Florida State’s second home run of the inning to give the Seminoles a 3-2 lead. It was the second homer in as many days for Lacey.

FSU starter Bryce Hubbart had settled down after a bumpy first inning and turned in 5.1 solid innings. Much like Friday’s game against Southern Miss with Parker Messick, the Seminoles got everything they needed from its starter.

With almost everyone available in a deep bullpen, if Florida State could just stay clean for four innings, it would be in good shape.

But as has been the case all season, Florida State’s defense cost the Seminoles in another close game. In the seventh inning, Clayton Kwiatkowski walked the leadoff hitter. Davis Hare came in out of the bullpen to replace him and allowed an opposite-field single on his second pitch. He then induced a 5-4-3 double play to bring the Seminoles within one out of exiting the seventh inning with a one-run lead.

A walk and a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position for Tim Elko, who hit a grand slam in Ole Miss’ win over Southeastern Missouri the previous night. Hare forced Elko into a routine grounder to shortstop, but Nander De Sedas rushed the throw and sailed it over the head of Tyler Martin, allowing the deciding two runs to score and Ole Miss to escape with a 4-3 win.

Elko, who tore his ACL just over a month ago, was understandably slow to get up the line. De Sedas had much more time than he realized to set his feet and make a good throw to get Elko.

That was the most critical error of the night for the Florida State defense, but that was just one of several costly defensive miscues.

Florida State got off to a sloppy start in the first inning for the second straight game. Friday, it was two errors and two unearned runs for Southern Miss. Against Ole Miss, the Seminoles committed two more first-inning errors, leading to two more runs, only one of which was earned.

Jacob Gonzalez started the inning by hitting a one-out single into left field. Hubbart then walked Elko to put two runners on with one out before a wild pitch moved both men into scoring position. Kevin Graham then brought in the first run on a hard grounder to Jackson Greene, who booted the grounder for his second error in as many days and allowed another run to score. Greene had made only one error all season before this weekend.

Graham also moved up to second on a throwing error from Robby Martin from right field.

Five of the six runs Florida State has allowed in its two games in the Oxford Regional have been unearned, as a result of five errors.

Against Southern Miss, Florida State overcame two costly errors with three home runs, but that is not a sustainable recipe for winning games, especially against a team of Ole Miss’ caliber. Florida State hit two more home runs Saturday but could muster only four hits on the evening. All eight of the Seminoles’ runs this weekend have come via the long ball.

Florida State also struck out 19 times Saturday, which included a career-high of 16 from Nikhazy.

The Seminoles had a great chance to steal one against the top seed in the region in front of a raucous crowd. They got a solid start from Hubbart. They had a couple of timely hits to shift the game’s momentum, and the bullpen was terrific for the second consecutive night. The defense, as it has numerous times this season, cost them once again.

Instead of punching a ticket to the regional final, Florida State will now face Southern Miss again Sunday at 2 p.m. in an elimination game.

Ole Miss will await the winner of that one Sunday at 6 p.m.

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