June 5, 2017 - by

Baseball Thrives And Survives In Pressure-Packed Sunday Marathon

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It was a game for the ages.

A back and forth affair between Auburn and Florida State became one of the most exciting games of the NCAA Tournament so far this season.

In the end, the Seminoles came out victorious 8-7 in 10 innings over the Tigers, as Calvin Coker plunked J.C. Flowers on an 0-2 pitch with two outs, sending Dick Howser Stadium into a frenzy.

 

“This was the most fun I’ve ever had in my years as a coach,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “I had my heart ripped out, but that was a great battle back and forth and tip your cap to Florida State.”

“I don’t think in all my years have I been a part of a game in which the highs and lows were so close together,” Mike Martin added. “My guys never folded up and kept battling. The fans were treated to a heck of a ballgame.”

With the bases loaded in the 10th and two outs, Flowers stepped up to the plate and quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count. The odds were against him, but he fouled off a pitch to stay alive then took a fastball to the mid-side, extending his team’s season.

“I just wanted to give my team a chance to win, or get hit by a pitch,” Flowers said with a grin.

“It wasn’t what I was picturing in my mind, but it got the job done.”

Earlier in the day, the Noles fought through a tough battle with Tennessee Tech, emerging victorious 5-3 thanks to just enough offense and clutch pitching from Drew Carlton.

FSU faced an uphill climb, as two games in the same day (and the fourth of the weekend) can be grueling under the Florida sun.

Against the Tigers, FSU showed some fatigue, falling behind 2-1 early in the contest due to a few errors. But the home team quickly responded, taking control of the game with a five-run second inning aided by a mammoth Dylan Busbythree-run home run that cleared the scoreboard in left.

Up 6-2, the Noles seemed ready to cruise. The Tigers had different ideas.

Auburn chipped away at the lead, eventually coming to bat in the ninth down just 6-5. Against Carlton, with the bases loaded, down to the final strike, Auburn’s Josh Anthony ripped a single up the middle, scoring two runs and giving the Tigers the lead.

All seemed lost; a season in which the Seminoles have battled numerous obstacles, was headed for a painful finish.

Dylan Busby wasn’t ready to give in.

In the bottom of the ninth, with Taylor Walls on first after a two-out walk, Busby spoke to his bat prior to stepping up to the plate.

“I told her, ‘We can’t go out like this,'” the junior said, smiling.

Busby slammed a 3-2 offering against Cole Lipscomb off the wall in center field, scoring Walls from first, tying the game again at 7-7.

As he slid into third base with a triple, Busby let out a scream, which looked more like a battle cry. His season, as well as the Noles’, was not over yet.

“I knew if it hit the wall, I’d have to be busting it to third base,” Busby said. “I just wanted to stay short and put the barrel on it.”

Live to fight another day. Howser will see another regional game.

The Noles have done the unlikely and battled back from the loser’s bracket, winning three straight games to force a winner-take-all contest on Monday at 7 p.m.

With their backs against the wall, the Seminoles have played their best baseball all year.

A few weeks ago at Louisville, Martin’s squad was in danger of not making the NCAA Tournament altogether. Instead, the Noles rattled off six straight wins to earn a hosting bid. Again on Friday, the Noles suffered a tough loss to Tennessee Tech, putting themselves in the loser’s bracket. Now, FSU is in position to advance to a Super Regional for the ninth time in the last 10 years.

“This team has fun (with backs against the wall),” Busby said. “Every day you come out having fun and right now we’re all having fun.”

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