Nole-maha: Florida State clinches trip to College World Series in Mike Martin's final season

February 23, 2019. Youngstown State at Florida State baseball. Dick Howser Stadium Tallahassee, Florida, USA (Credit Image: Ken Lanese)

By: Fletcher Keel | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
June 9, 2019

BATON ROUGE, La. (WCTV) -- The Florida State Seminoles walked off against the LSU Tigers in the 12th inning to clinch their ticket to the 2019 College World Series.

The hero of the evening was Drew Mendoza, who drove Mike Salvatore home on a single into right field in the bottom of the 12th inning. Mendoza's hit snapped an 0-for-28 skid by the FSU offense.

Mendoza worked a one-out single up the middle, the Noles' first hit since the fourth inning, and advanced to second base on a wild pitch to set the table for Mendoza's game winning hit.

After scoring the final six games of the game on Saturday, Florida State scored the first three runs of the game in this one, all coming in the bottom of the second inning.

Robby Martin opened the frame with a walk and back-to-back singles from JC Flowers and Carter Smith set the table for Nander De Sedas, whose play caused a bit of controversy.

De Sedas grounded out to first base and the Tigers attempted to get the force out at home with Martin coming in from third. LSU catcher Saul Garza applied the tag on Martin but didn't hold onto the ball. After initially being called out at the plate, a discussion among all four umpires and a video review over turned the call, leading to the first run of the game and a 1-0 FSU lead.

The Seminoles added on with an RBI single from Matheu Nelson into left field, scoring Flowers, and a bloop RBI single from Mike Salvatore to score Smith to give FSU a 3-0 lead after the end of the inning.

LSU got a run back in the top of the fourth on a leadoff home run from Antoine Duplantis (another play that went to video review, as FSU argued the ball landed beyond the wall in foul ground) but the Noles answered in the bottom half, with an RBI double from Tim Becker to plate Nelson, who preceded Becker with a one-out infield single, to make it a 4-1 game.

The Tigers mounted their biggest threat against FSU starter CJ Van Eyk in the top of the sixth inning.

LSU led the frame off by mounting consecutive hits against Van Eyk for the first time in the game, as Josh Smith, Giovani DiGiocomo and Duplantis each reached on singles, with Duplantis' knock driving home Smith to make it 4-2.

Following a groundout to move runners into second and third, Nelson picked DiGiocomo off at third on a heads up play for the inning's second out, and gave FSU the momentum needed to shut down the threat.

LSU tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the eighth inning.

Smith led the frame off with a double and came into score on a one-out double from Duplantis, bringing the Tigers within one.

LSU tied the game on a ball off the bat of Watson, which hit Drew Mendoza's glove at third base and trickled into left field, allowing Duplantis to score to make it 4-4.

Van Eyk turned in a strong performance for the Noles, scattering eight hits over 7.1 innings while walking two and striking out five. Van Eyk was charged with four runs, despite leaving the game with a 4-3 lead.

Anthony Velez was terrific for FSU in relief, scattering four hits over 4.2 shutout innings in relief of Van Eyk.

Just as terrific was LSU reliever Devin Fontenot, who allowed just two hits, the final two at-bats of the game, and the game winning run in a career-long outing of 6.1 innings. He also struck out a career best 11 batters.

The Noles now await the winner of the Fayettville regional between Arkansas and Ole Miss. The deciding game in that series will be played Monday.