Feb. 25, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – The 11th-ranked Florida State baseball team continued its roll through the start of the 2005 season Friday night with an 11-2 victory over Appalachian State (1-8). The offense was powered by Gibbs Chapman who hit two home runs, one a grand slam, and Tony Thomas, Jr., who drove in four runs. Michael Hyde (3-1) won his second straight start pitching a season-best seven innings. Shane Robinson went 2-for-5 and extended his hitting streak to 20 games. The win improved Florida State to 14-1 on the year.
The 14 hits equaled a season high set the last time FSU played in a one-run road victory at Stetson and it was the sixth time in 15 games that FSU has scored double digit runs in a game. Four different players had multi-hit games and four Seminoles drove in at least one run. Florida State upped its double total to 48 on the season with three more Friday marking the 10th game this season with three or more doubles and the sixth straight game.
“I think the thing that is keeping us going right now is the camaraderie and team work,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin.
“This is a great team,” said Chapman. “We are young but this group of guys come out here everyday and get after it.”
Hyde had another strong outing for the Seminoles as he struck out six batters before issuing his first walk of the game. The Lincoln High School product has now fanned five or more batters in each of his last three starts. He is tied for the team lead in wins and his 2.12 ERA is now third-best amongst the Seminoles’ starters.
“The coaches are stressing with me to keep my walks down and I had two today but I was able to get ahead of the hitters,” said Hyde. “When you get ahead you can do a lot of good things and make them hit the pitches you want instead of having to lay it in there.”
“Everything starts with the guy on the mound,” said Martin. “Michael Hyde did a very good job today. He wasn’t as consistent with the breaking ball as we’d like to see but the change-up and fastball were pretty darn good.”
Despite the 11-2 final, the game was 0-0 heading into the bottom of the second and ASU was just a pitch away from getting out of the bases loaded jam before Chapman laced a shot over the fence in right. Without Chapman’s big hit, the game would have been 2-1 Mountaineers heading into the bottom of the seventh as Appalachian State and starter Scott Clark (1-3) kept it close early on.
“Appalachian State has a good club and they surprised me with their talent,” said Martin. “It was one of those games where Gibbs’ home run took the wind out of their sails. They are a team that is going to be very good as the season progresses. The keys to the ballgame were Michael Hyde and Gibbs Chapman’s homer.”
The Seminoles loaded the bases in the second with two away thanks to hits by Jernigan and Robinson and a great at bat by Thomas where he worked out his 13th walk of the year, second on the team. That brought up Chapman who had never hit a grand slam in his FSU career.
“That inning where we scored four, we went out, base hit, out and then Tony worked himself into a good count and ended up walking,” said Martin. “Shane gets a base hit and it set the stage for Gibbs to help his team out. That is something that is very important to the success of any team.”
“Tony had a great at bat where he battled quite a few pitches and drew a walk,” said Chapman. “Shane then got a hit. I give them all the credit because they got on base for me.”
Chapman then took Clark’s 3-2 pitch out of Howser. The slam was the first by a Seminole since Ryne Malone’s versus Maryland March 20, 2004.
“I got a fastball low and in I believe,” said Chapman. “I had battled a few pitches and just got a hold of it.”
The Mountaineers tried to chip away at the 4-0 lead putting runners on the corners with nobody out in the fifth. Hyde got the first out on his fifth strikeout of the game. Malone then made a great sliding catch right in front of the FSU dugout on a foul ball for the second out of the inning. Hyde got out of the jam on a fly ball to left.
Appalachian State did break through against Hyde in the sixth on a two-out single up the middle scoring a runner from second. The RBI hit followed Hyde’s first walk of the game.
ASU mistakes led to another FSU run in the bottom of the sixth. Ruairi O’Connor reached on a throwing error by the third baseman, which allowed him to move to second. A passed ball got the freshman to third and Thomas drove him home on a single up the middle. Robinson recorded his second hit of the day to put runners on first and second and a fly out moved runners on to the corners. Robinson swiped his 16th base of the year to move into scoring position but FSU was unable to cash in and build on the 5-1 lead.
A three base error and a sac fly cut the FSU lead to 5-2 in the top of the seventh but FSU answered back in the bottom half thanks to a Brant Peacher infield single, a walk and a sac, which put runners on second and third with just one out. Another walk loaded the bases and Thomas cleared them with a double down the left field line extending the FSU lead to 8-2.
“I was just looking for a pitch to drive up the middle,” said Thomas. “He came in with the pitch. It started tailing in and I just turned on it. I saw it barely get between third and the third baseman. It just rolled all the way down to the corner and everyone was able to come home on it.”
The four RBIs were a career best for Thomas who has recorded hits in each of FSU’s last three games. After recording a hit in three of the first seven games of his career, Thomas has hit in 6 of the last 8 games and seen his batting average rise from .167 to .238.
“The offense is slowly coming but it is coming,” said Thomas. “It comes in bunches but I need to manage to keep it consistent. I can’t just have that one hit ever few days. I have to keep it on a consistent basis.
“Pitch selection has been a key for me. I have been eliminating bad pitches early in the count and not swinging at pitches I shouldn’t. I get the count in my favor and get to see better pitches to hit.”
Not to be out done by Thomas’ four RBIs, Chapman went yard again to start the eighth marking the first time in his career he has homered twice in a game and it also was his fifth RBI, which was also a career high.
“Hitting two home runs is something you don’t expect and it comes when it comes,” said Chapman. “It was fun and hopefully I’ll have another day like this down the road.”
Cheesman followed with a double and a walk to Danny Diaz put FSU back in business with no outs. An error and a sac fly extended the Seminole lead to 11-2.
The Seminoles continue their series with the Mountaineers Saturday, February 26 at 2:00 p.m. The Garnet and Gold is expected to throw Barret Browning (2-0). 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.