GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Sophomore hurler Drew Carlton recorded the first complete game shutout of his career and in the process provided Florida State (41-20) with a 1-0 advantage in the 2016 Gainesville Super Regional as the Seminoles snapped a five-game losing streak to Florida (50-14) with a 3-0 victory on Saturday evening at McKethan Stadium.
Carlton becomes the first Seminole pitcher to toss a complete game shutout in the NCAA Tournament since Matt Lynch achieved the feat with a three-hit, eight-strikeout performance against Jacksonville in the 2003 Tallahassee Regionals.
Carlton, who improved to 8-3 on the campaign, retired the final 19 Gator hitters in the lineup as Florida State blanked its in-state rivals for the first time since March 11, 1995. Florida did not have a runner reach second base on the evening as Carlton limited the lineup to two hits and became the first Seminole pitcher to record a complete game shutout since Mike Compton went the distance in a 7-0 victory against Boston College on March 6, 2015.
“That was definitely one of the most fun games I’ve ever pitched in,” said Carlton. “I definitely wanted that one. This was a big win for us and the whole team.”
Carlton, a native of Lakeland, Fla., surrendered his first hit of the game to Buddy Reed in the second inning. The following inning, he saw Danny Reyes send a base hit through the right side of the infield before a double play by the combination of John Sansone, Matt Henderson and Dylan Busby ended the threat. Carlton then preceded to retire the final 19 consecutive Florida hitters, including four via strikeout, en route to his second win of the NCAA Tournament.
“That was definitely a big thing in that inning,” said Carlton of the double play. “Keeping the pitch count low helps us all to go farther in the game. The double plays, that’s one of the big things that we preach from Coach (Mike) Bell. That really helped me throughout the game.”
Offensively the Seminoles were led by Henderson (2-4, double), Sansone (1-4, double) and Taylor Walls (1-5). Walls joined Tyler Holton as the only FSU hitter with an RBI, which came on a double to left in the two-run fifth inning.
“I’m very pleased with the way Drew (Carlton) pitched,” added head coach Mike Martin. “He was the key to the ballgame. I don’t know when I’ve ever seen him pitch better, and he’s been with us for two years. It was a great win, but every one of these young men understand the game and know that we’ve got to be ready to go tomorrow.”
The Seminoles plated the game’s first run in the top of the fourth with a leadoff double down the right field line by Jackson Lueck. Cal Raleigh followed with a walk and two batters later Quincy Nieporte loaded the bases after being hit on the shoulder. Holton worked the count to draw a walk, giving FSU the 1-0 advantage before a double play ended the threat.
FSU put two more runs across the plate in the fifth after Henderson opened the frame with a single to centerfield, forcing the Gators to turn to reliever Dane Dunning. Walls kept the momentum going for the Seminoles with a double off the left field wall, scoring Henderson from first for the 2-0 advantage.
Sansone reached on fielding error by Florida’s Deacon Liput, allowing Walls to scamper home from second for the 3-0 advantage as the Noles scored what proved to be the final run of the game.
“It was a ballgame in which we played very well,” said head coach Mike Martin. “It seemed everything went our way. Our guys took advantage of opportunities. We also know that it’s a nice feeling, but it’s also a game of baseball that we understand. We know that tomorrow is a very, very important game. We’ve got to be ready to go.
The pitching matchup on Sunday will include Seminole left-hander Tyler Holton (3-3, 2.92 ERA) and Florida’s Logan Shore (11-0, 2.44). Holton has two appearances against the Gators in his freshman campaign, including a start in the March 15 contest. In that game, he converted four strikeouts, and surrendered three earned runs over three innings.
Seminole fans can always stay up-to-date with the Florida State Baseball team by following the official twitter page of the Seminoles (@FSUBaseball).