Feb. 5, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – The 18th-ranked FSU baseball team had been behind just once all season coming into Saturday’s second game with VMI and that came in the first inning of the second game of the year. That deficit was erased in the bottom of the first. Versus the Keydets Saturday, Florida State found itself trailing in the bottom of the seventh inning and then, after regaining the lead, saw it slip away again in the top of the ninth. Thanks to Brant Peacher’s two out double and Bryan Henry’s walk-off single, the Seminoles moved out to 5-0 for the first time since 1999 with a 6-5 victory over VMI (0-2). The win gave FSU head coach Mike Martin his 1,343rd victory, moving the Seminole boss past legendary USC head coach Rod Dedeaux and into sixth place all-time among DI coaches for wins.
“That was a big win for us this early in the season,” said Martin. “We are playing a quality team (VMI). They are a team whose record was not impressive last year but a team that is vastly improved from 2004. They are going to cause problems in their league. I am very impressed with them. I do not see a weakness. They do everything very well. We just happened to get two key hits in the ninth inning to win it but give VMI a lot of credit. They deserve it.”
“It sure is something special in the fifth game of the year for us to get down and find a way to come back,” said team captain Aaron Cheesman. “I think it showed a lot of character for our guys to hang in there and not get their heads down. VMI is a very good team. They are very scrappy. You can’t name a weakness they have and they are a lot better than people may think they are.”
Seminole closer Tyler Chambliss (1-0) picked up the victory but it came the hard way as the sophomore couldn’t hold on to the 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth setting the stage for Henry and Peacher’s heroics. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth Peacher got the rally started with a double down the left field line.
“I was just up there looking for a good pitch to hit,” said Peacher. “I have been struggling a little bit lately. He (VMI pitcher Corey Bachman) was coming inside with the fastball and I was taking good cuts at it. He tried to break off a curve and I stayed back and put a good swing on it. I happened to get a double out of it.”
That brought up fellow sophomore Henry. The Tallahassee native was hitless in his last seven at bats when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run at second.
“I got a little pep talk from Cheese (Aaron Cheesman) before I went up there,” said Henry. “I came up with a guy on third my last at bat and forced something to happen. He told me to just sit back and let it come to you. I was looking for something I could hit away because they had been staying away from me all day.”
Bachman (0-1) fell behind Henry 3-1. The right-handed sophomore then threw a fastball away that Henry went the other way with and dropped into right field scoring pinch runner Ryne Jernigan from second base giving the Seminoles the victory.
“I didn’t try to do too much and just went with what he gave me and good things happened,” said Henry. “They say people remember the last thing you do and that was a good note to end on. I don’t know if I will be able to sleep tonight. This is a dream come true to see the fans go crazy in my hometown. You can’t ask for anything better.”
“Peacher came through and then Bryan came to the plate and he’d been struggling a little,” said Cheesman. “To forget about all the other at bats you had and come out there and be confident in yourself and come through in the clutch like that says a lot about Bryan Henry.”
While Chambliss picked up the win, it was sophomore Michael Hyde who started the game and had another very strong outing. The Tallahassee native pitched five innings, walked three, struck out one and allowed two runs and left the game in line for a win. The Tallahassee Community College product started the game strong needing just 13 pitches as he breezed through the top of the first setting down VMI in order. The sophomore made it look easy into the third as he had yet to give up a hit in a 0-0 game.
The Florida State offense gave Hyde some breathing room in the bottom of the third inning. Shane Robinson started the rally with an infield single. Cheesman came through with a two out single through the left side to put runners on the corners for Ryne Malone. The first baseman almost had the Seminoles’ first home run of the year when he blasted a shot high off the fence in right. The double cleared the bases and put FSU in front 2-0. Josh Spivey then smashed a line drive to first plating the third run of the inning.
“It is starting to loosen up a little bit and I am starting to see the ball a little better,” said Malone. “The good thing is we are getting wins and we seem to be coming together as a ball club right now.”
The Keydets tried to cut into the Seminole lead in the top of the fourth as Hyde gave up his first walk and hit of the inning. VMI was unable to capitalize though as the runner at third was thrown out at home on a pitch out that ended with Nick Francis gunning the base runner out at the plate.
Hyde got into his first real jam of the game in the top of the fifth. A walk and single put runners on the corners and Thane Smith cashed in with a single into right cutting the score to 3-1. A sac bunt moved both runners into scoring position and Hyde’s second walk of the inning loaded the bases. A ground out scored VMI’s second run of the inning and cut the FSU lead to 3-2.
In the top of the sixth VMI scored two runs off relief pitcher Kevin Lynch putting the Seminoles behind for just the second time all season and the first time since falling behind 2-0 to Charleston Southern in the top of the first in just the second game of the year. The Keydets used two walks, a double and a single to plate their two runs but Lynch came back and ended the rally with back-to-back called third strikes.
In the bottom of the seventh FSU responded. The Seminoles got a lead off walk from Gibbs Chapman and Cheesman followed with a single through the right side. Malone then laid down a bunt single to load the bases. A passed ball moved everybody up a base and tied the game at 4-4. Peacher then came up and his ground out put FSU in the lead at 5-4.
“I can’t remember a time when we have gone into the seventh inning down this year,” said Martin. “We have been up every game going into the seventh inning. It really showed me a lot that this ball club can get it done.”
After pitching two perfect innings where he struck out three batters and didn’t allow a hit, Matt DiBlasi gave way to Chambliss in the top of the ninth. A Thane Smith single and sac bunt put the tying run in scoring position for the Keydets with just one away. Chambliss got the second out on his first K of the game but Matt Smith’s single to center field tied the contest setting up the Seminoles’ heroics in the bottom of the ninth.
“DiBlasi is a guy that gets overlooked,” said Martin. “He helped us take control of this game and go ahead. Of course we weren’t able to hold the lead in the ninth inning.”
The Seminoles will go after their second consecutive series sweep Sunday, February 6 at 1:00 p.m. The Garnet and Gold is expected to throw junior Barret Browning (0-0) who will be making his second start of the season. Game Tracker will be available for the contest along with a live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.