TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Junior catcher Cal Raleigh tied career-highs with three hits and four RBI in No. 5 Florida State’s 9-2 win over UNC Asheville Friday evening. In front of a crowd of 4,419, the Seminoles extended its season-opening win streak to nine games, while the Bulldogs fell to 2-6.
#Noles Win! | 9️⃣-0️⃣ record
WP: Sands (3-0)
LP: Fulbright (0-3)
Next game is at 6 pm tomorrow night. pic.twitter.com/stMdBVVafC
— FSU Baseball (@FSUBaseball) March 3, 2018
“We had some really solid at-bats,” head coach Mike Martin said. “When you score nine runs, you have to give the offense a lot of credit. Cole [Sands] did not have the outing he’s accustomed to having, but he continued to battle. I feel he’d say the same thing. Wasn’t bad by any stretch, five hits in five innings with eight strikeouts.”
Raleigh tied the game in the first inning with a triple off the top of the outfield wall in right-centerfield, added a single in the fifth inning and had a three-run double that doubled FSU’s lead to 8-2 in the sixth inning. The triple was the third of Raleigh’s career.
“We saw something in Cal about three days ago,” Martin said. “Not so much in the game with Jacksonville, but he seemed to be seeing the ball better, feeling better about the way he was swinging the bat. That look of, ‘I’m comfortable. Let’s play baseball.’ It was really encouraging.”
“I’ve been working on things, approach at the plate,” Raleigh said after the game. “Little mechanical things that started clicking and hopefully it keeps working.”
Sands (3-0) allowed a run in his first and last innings, going five innings and striking out eight Bulldog hitters. He has won each of his first three starts this season.
After allowing a walk and an RBI double to open the game, Sands retired the next six hitters. FSU took the lead in the bottom of the first on Raleigh’s RBI triple and the first of Mendoza’s two RBI doubles.
After a perfect top of the fourth inning from Sands, the Noles added to the lead in the fourth inning on four walks from starter Jordan Fulbright (0-3). After Hunter Burnette entered, Jackson Lueck hit a two-run single that scored Cooper Swanson and Steven Wells and gave FSU a 5-1 lead.
Fulbright went 3.1 innings, giving up three hits, five walks and five earned runs in the loss.
Three straight two-out singles from UNC Asheville cut the lead to 5-2 in the top of the fifth. It was the first run FSU has surrendered in the fifth inning this season.
Raleigh’s three-run double and Mendoza’s second RBI double of the game extended the FSU lead to 9-2 through six innings.
Junior relief pitcher Cobi Johnson threw the sixth and seventh innings, recording all six outs via strikeout. On the season, Johnson has 16 strikeouts in six innings pitched.
Freshman Tyler Ahearn pitched the final two innings, putting on two baserunners in the eighth but forcing a fly out to right field to escape any damage. FSU has not allowed an eighth inning run this season.
In the ninth, Ahearn allowed a single and a walk before a strikeout and double play ended the game.
FSU loaded the bases on three walks off UNC Asheville starting pitcher Jordan Fulbright. A fourth walk to Cooper Swanson scored Mendoza to give FSU a 3-1 lead.
FSU’s win was head coach Mike Martin’s 1,953rd of his career. He needs just 23 more to become the winningest coach in college baseball history. He currently trails only Augie Garrido (1,975 wins). Martin is now 22-1 against UNC Asheville.
Florida State hosts UNC Asheville the second game of the series Saturday at 6:00 p.m. FSU will throw sophomore LHP Drew Parrish (1-0, 1.59 ERA), while the Bulldogs will counter with LHP Greg Gasparro (0-1, 3.86 ERA).
All three games this weekend can be heard on 106.1 FM in Tallahassee and nationwide on the FSU Gameday App. All three will also stream live on the ACC Network Extra.
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).