A veteran Florida State squad pounded out 20 hits and tallied 14 runs to beat Florida 14-6 in Gainesville Tuesday night. The Seminoles played outstanding offensive and defensive baseball.
Three Florida State players- second baseman Tony Thomas, center fielder D’Vontrey Richardson, and right fielder Jack Rye posted three hits apiece. Four other Seminoles added a pair of hits each in the contest.
The 5,140 fans who took in dollar night were served up quite a baseball bargain. At least it appeared so until the sixth inning. The fourth largest mid-week crowd in Florida baseball history watched a young Florida club hang in there against the nation’s second ranked team until Mike Martin and his experienced squad turn it on in the sixth. Florida had no answer. Six of the Seminoles top seven hitters for average one year ago return on the 2006 squad.
“I wish there was an explanation for it,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. “I think tonight we just happened to hit some balls just out of the Gators reach. We hit a couple of balls very hard don’t get me wrong, but we did have a quail there in the first inning that was just out of the reach of the shortstop and second baseman that scored a run for us. We had a fourteen hopper that went to right field in an inning that we scored two runs. So a lot of things happened to go our way.”
Florida fans shouldn’t be on suicide watch though. Seven Seminoles starters are currently averaging over .400. Furthermore, the ‘Noles have played eight consecutive games in which they’ve posted 10 or more hits and runs, which is the second longest streak in school history.
“Isn’t that absolutely sick,” Martin said laughing when asked about his team’s incredible batting average. “I mean, I look at the scoreboard and I go, “Man, I didn’t hit that my first game of the season.” It’s just a surprise what’s going on, because we haven’t exactly scared people the last couple of years offensively. But, there were some balls hit tonight that really shocked me. Two freshmen hit the ball out of the ballpark at a great baseball program and that was a surprise to me. Mike (Martin Jr.) has done a great job with our hitters. Mike is the one that is in the background that never seems to get the necessary credit, but Mike is doing a great job. He happens to have the same name I do and is doing a tremendous job with the hitters.”
“I saw them (Florida) this past weekend,” Martin said of the Gators. “Very good club. They beat a very good club two out of three. We just happened to do a lot of things right tonight. I saw all three games on tape.”
Second ranked Florida State (10-0) got things started early. Leadoff hitter Tony Thomas Jr. had barely stepped into the box before he ripped a single up the middle. Shortstop Mark Hallberg followed with a single by third that moved Thomas around to third base. Catcher Buster Posey grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, scoring Thomas.
Right fielder Jack Rye then walked and promptly stole second. Left fielder Dennis Guinn then singled to center scoring Rye. Third baseman Jason Stidham was hit by Florida starter Kevin Chapman’s first pitch.
Catcher Cody Neer threw down to first base as Stidham drifted off the bag and overthrew first baseman Matt LaPorta. Right fielder Brian Leclerc was charged with an error after badly misplaying the ball. By the time he threw home, Guinn had raced in for the Seminoles third run of the inning.
The Gators (4-4) answered with a pair of runs of their own in the bottom of the first. With one out, second baseman Cole Figueroa singled up the gut. Florida State starter Bo O’Dell wasted little time plunking Matt LaPorta with the first pitch. The runners advanced on O’Dell’s wild pitch. Designated hitter Bryson Barber then drove Figueroa home with a ground ball to first base. Third baseman Clayton Pisani pounded a double down that stayed on the let field line to score LaPorta and cut the Seminoles lead to 3-2.
The ‘Noles pieced together four hits to score three runs in the top of the second inning off Chapman, stretching their lead to 6-2.
The Gators came back in their turn at the plate. With one out, Leclerc drew a walk on a full count. Left fielder Chris Petrie took O’Dell’s first pitch for a drive over the left field fence into the O’Connell Center parking lot to cut the Seminoles lead to 6-4. Florida State head coach Mike Martin took the ball from O’Dell and handed it off to southpaw Travis Burge, who got Figueroa to fly out to center. He plunked LaPorta- marking the second consecutive inning he was hit by a pitch. Barber then struck out swinging at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.
Florida head coach Pat McMahon also went to the bullpen. He called on closer Josh Edmondson to keep the ‘Noles bats at bay. Edmondson struck out two of the three Florida State batters in the three up, three down inning. Florida to came up empty in the bottom half of the third stranding Cody Neer at first base.
The Seminoles added a run in the fourth. Thomas fought off Edmondson for ten pitches before stroking a single into center field. He quickly stole second and moved to third on Mark Hallberg’s ground out to short. Thomas scored Florida State’s seventh run as Posey hit a bouncer to Townsend at shortstop.
Figueroa took matters into his own hands in the bottom of the fourth. After Petrie and Townsend both fanned, the Tallahassee native jolted Byrd’s pitch over the right-center field wall to cut the Seminoles lead back to a pair at 7-5.
In the fifth, Seminoles third baseman Jason Stidham blasted a home run over the right field wall with one out in the inning. Tommy Oravetz followed with a single to center. However, Edmondson and the Gators secured the final two outs in the inning.
Florida State added two more in the seventh. Travis Anderson singled with one out. D’Vontrey Richardson followed with a single through the right side of the infield. First baseman Brandon Reichart posted the second out of the frame with a fly ball to Matt den Dekker in center field. Thomas laced a 1-2 pitch to the right field wall that he legged out for a two-run triple.
Many of the 5,140 fans began exiting The Mac after second baseman Tony Thomas Jr. ripped a two-run triple that gave the Seminoles a 10-5 lead.
The ‘Noles added four more runs in the eighth- keyed by a Richardson two-run home run off lefty David Hurst.
Freshman Kevin Chapman (1-1) took the loss for the Gators. Burge picked up the win for Florida State.
Florida will host Kent State for a three game series this weekend at McKethan Stadium. The first game will be on Friday at 6:30pm. Right hander Bryan Augenstein (1-1) is expected to get the nod with Stephen Locke pitching on Saturday.