March 3, 2009
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sixth-ranked Florida State (6-2) dropped its second straight game of the season falling 9-4 to Jacksonville (4-4) on a blistery, cold evening in Florida’s First Coast. The Seminole bats could never heat up on Tuesday night managing just four hits against five Dolphin pitchers.
The back-to-back losses marks the first time the Seminoles have lost consecutive games on the road during the regular season since dropping three in a row at Clemson, May 12-14, 2006. It also marked the first time since 2005 that Florida State suffered back-to-back losses against a non-conference opponent as FSU dropped three straight at Hawaii (March 12-14).
“There was no question that we were out played tonight,” said head coach Mike Martin. “It was obviously a very disappointing loss, but let’s understand that those guys from Jacksonville played very well. They pitched well and got some big hits. We didn’t too much of anything well.”
Jason Stidham was responsible for half the hits on Tuesday finishing the game 2-for-5 with a pair of singles. Tyler Holt accounted for three of the four Seminole runs as the sophomore center fielder reached base on three of his five plate appearances.
Mike McGee dropped to 1-1 after working 5.1 innings against the Dolphins. The sophomore right hander allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits. He walked five and struck out a career-high seven batters.
Florida State was retired in order in the first by Jacksonville starter Kyle Kriech. In the process, Holt’s streak of reaching base in consecutive at-bats came to an end at 10 straight, three shy of the school record established by Paul Sorrento in 1985.
The Dolphins struck first in the bottom of the second on a two out, two-run blast by Brad Simmons. The JU catcher took a 2-0 offering from Florida State starter Mike McGee over the trees in right for his first hit of the season. Prior to the home run, McGee issued a walk to Derek Abis after starting the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
Jacksonville continued its two-out success in the inning as the next three batters reached on a single by Jonathan Murphy, a walk to lead off batter Chuck Opachich and an RBI single to right by Kyle Fleming to take a commanding 3-0 lead. The inning finally came to a close as McGee got Jeremy Gillan to fly out to center for out number three.
McGee bounced back to retire the side in the third. For the third straight inning, the sophomore right hander struck out the first two batters that he faced before inducing an inning ending groundout to short by Thomas Myers. With two strikeouts in each of the first three innings, McGee set a career-high for strikeouts with six surpassing his previous high of five set against Auburn on March 2, 2008.
Jacksonville went to the bullpen to start the fourth bringing on right hander Billy Schlee. JU couldn’t have asked for a better performance from Kriech who worked three perfect innings. The junior left hander faced the minimum throwing just 33 pitches while posting a pair of strikeouts.
Florida State finally got a runner on base in the fourth as Holt led off the inning reaching on a throwing error by Abis at short. The Seminoles registered their first hit of the game two batters later as Stidham laced a base hit to left center on a hit-and-run as Holt strolled easily into third. Tapley drove in Holt for the first run of the game on a sac-fly to right to cut the deficit to 3-1.
JU threatened in the fifth putting runners on the corner with one out, but the Seminoles escaped without any damage on a fly out, double play. The Dolphins’ Kevin Lehane flew out to D’Vontrey Richardson in right and the red shirt sophomore came up firing, throwing a bullet to Rafael Lopez at the plate to gun down Fleming for the final out of the inning.
The Seminoles inched closer to tying the game in the sixth as the top of the order once again provided the offensive production scoring a run off Matt Tomshaw, the third JU pitcher of the evening.
Holt led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on a groundout to first by Stephen Cardullo. After a strikeout by Stidham and with Tapley at the plate, Holt stole third and came around to score as the throw by Simmons from behind the plate, short hopped the bag at third and bounced into the outfield. A couple pitches later Tapley laced a double off the wall in right for just the second Seminole hit of the ball game. The Dolphins would maintain their lead as Tomshaw got Ohmed Danesh looking on strikes for the final out of the inning.
Jacksonville extended its lead with five runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a commanding 8-2 lead. Florida State was a victim of two errors, while four Seminole pitchers combined for four walks and two hits. Jacksonville native Hunter Scantling came on with the bases loaded and got Myers swinging on strikes to close out the inning.
Pinch hitter James Ramsey cut the deficit in the seventh with a two-out, solo shot to right off JU reliever Joey Wedner. The home run was the first of the season for Ramsey, while it marked his first hit as a pinch hitter.
Scantling returned to the mound for the seventh and faced just three batters to keep the Dolphin lead at 8-3. The freshman right hander got a strike out, throw out double play to end the inning. Center fielder Joey Belviso struck out swinging, while Parker Brunelle, who entered for Lopez at the bottom of the inning, threw out Simmons trying to steal second.
The Seminoles looked to make some damage in the eighth loading the bases with no body out. But the Garnet and Gold could only muster one run as Tapley drew a bases loaded walk scoring Holt for the fourth Seminole run of the game. After giving up two walks and a single, JU reliever Matt Loosen recorded back-to-back strikeouts and a fly out to right off the bat of Matt Meschke to keep the Dolphin lead at 8-4.
Scantling finished the game working a career-high 2.1 innings allowing a run while walking three with three strikeouts.
“I came in and we were down so I was hoping we could take the lead and get a win,” said Scantling. “Looking at all my family and friends in the stands and behind the dugout was a big boost. It helped me throw out there tonight.”
Jacksonville added one more in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Glen Johnson.
Florida State will return home to face North Florida (3-6) on Wednesday, March 4 at 6:00 p.m., before welcoming Boston College to Dick Howser Stadium over the weekend in the conference opener for both teams. Fans can listen to all the live action over the radio on 1270 the Team, while live video streaming will be available on ACC Select. Live stats for the game will also be available via gametracker on www.seminoles.com.