TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Fifth-ranked Florida State (2-1) beat VCU (1-2) 11-3 Sunday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium, clinching a season-opening series for the Seminoles and earning head coach Mike Martin the 1,900th win of his 38-year career. Martin is the active wins leader and just the second in the sport’s history to reach 1,900 career wins.
A Florida State offense that started slow each of the first two games of the season got rolling early, leading 4-0 through two innings. After a perfect top of the first from starter Tyler Holton (1-0, 1.50), junior Taylor Walls walked and sophomore Jackson Lueck singled Walls to third. Walls gave the Noles a 1-0 lead on Cal Raleigh’s groundout.
In the second, freshman Nick Derr recorded the first of his three hits, moving senior Matt Henderson to second. Derr was 5-for-8 with a double and three runs scored during his first weekend as a Seminole. Henderson scored on freshman J.C. Flowers’ single to left field, and Derr and Flowers both scored on Walls’ RBI single to right field, Derr on the hit and Flowers on the error from VCU right fielder Alex Gransback.
“When you look at the weekend, you have to be pleased with the opportunity guys got to display their talent that had not played for Florida State, guys like Flowers and Derr,” Martin said.
VCU answered with a pair of runs in the top of the third in the only trouble of the day for Holton. VCU scored a run and loaded the bases on a single, error and two hit by pitches, all with no outs. After the second hit by pitch, a scary 3-0 ball that knocked VCU third baseman Daane Berezo from the game, Holton settled down and struck out the side, keeping the damage to two runs. They would be the only two runs Holton allowed on the day, finishing with three hits allowed and six strikeouts.
VCU’s starting pitcher, Brooks Vial (0-1), allowed four runs (one earned) on six hits in 4.0 innings pitched.
In the fifth, the FSU bats again rang, this time against relief pitcher Jonathan Ebersole. Loading the bases with a Quincy Nieporte single and two walks by Henderson and Derr, junior Rhett Aplin plated Nieporte with a sacrifice fly to left field. Henderson and Derr came around to score on Walls’ two-run double just inside the first base line, making the score 7-2. Walls, who finished No. 2 nationally in 2016 with 72 runs scored, finished the weekend 4-for-10 with six RBI, four runs, three doubles and four walks.
Nieporte’s two-out home run off the left field scoreboard made the score 8-2 in the sixth. Holton gave way to junior Ed Voyles in the seventh. An opening hit by pitch from Voyles came around to score for VCU, the final run of the game for the Rams. FSU responded with an RBI single from Flowers in the bottom of the frame, leaving the Orange Park, Fla., native 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored on the afternoon.
Sophomore Cal Raleigh and junior Dylan Busby opened the eighth with a walk and double, respectively, and both players would come around to score: Raleigh on Nieporte’s sacrifice fly and Busby on Henderson’s first hit of the year, an RBI single to center field.
FSU closed the game on the mound with scoreless innings from Alec Byrd (8th) and Jim Voyles (9th).
As for Martin, Sunday’s win moves him just 75 behind Augie Garrido for the most all-time in college baseball. In his 38th year as the Seminole skipper, Martin is 1,900-672-4.
“Every single coach in our locker room has a lot to do with what has transpired in this program the last 38 years,” Martin said of the milestone. “It’s been a great ride. We just want that ride to continue to where we’re trying to get to. I’m not going to sit here and say it doesn’t mean anything. We’ve had outstanding athletes in our program for some time, and I’m glad we have the opportunity to work with them.”
“It’s the main reason most of us decided to come here,” Nieporte said of Martin’s legacy. “To be a part of a monumental win in a legend’s career is special. It’s an honor.”
Florida State will host USF (2-1) Tuesday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium beginning at 4:00 p.m. The next weekend series is against Samford February 24-26.
Fans can watch the game live on ACC Network Extra (formerly ESPN3) or listen live on the radio in Tallahassee on 106.1 FM or anywhere through the FSU GameDay App.
For more information on Florida State baseball, check Seminoles.com for the latest news and scheduling information, or keep up with the team on social media through Twitter (@FSUBaseball), Facebook (/FSUBaseball), and Instagram (@NoleBaseball).