Feb. 22, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 2009 Seminole Classic concluded in exciting fashion on Sunday night, with Florida State defeating No. 4 Michigan, 6-5, in 11 innings at JoAnne Graf Field. It was the highest ranked opponent the Seminoles have defeated since taking down No. 1 Arizona State last season and the first victory over the Wolverines since 2004. Florida State improves to 12-3 while Michigan slips to 11-3.
In Sarah Hamilton’s first start since her no-hitter against Indiana, the Florida State pitcher got in trouble early, walking in the first Michigan run as one of her three walks allowed in the inning. Hamilton would recover to get out of the inning with minimal damage, striking out the Wolverines’ Marley Powers to leave the bases loaded.
Michigan would have another chance in the third, as a fielding error on Florida State first baseman Brittany Joseph gave the Wolverines a golden opportunity with runners on first and second with none out. A passed ball would allow the runners to advance to second and third, when pitcher Nikki Nemitz grounded out to third to get the Seminoles out of the jam unscathed.
Florida State took the lead in the fourth inning with a solo shot by Kaleigh Rafter to left center. The home run was the third of the season for Rafter and the 29th career round-tripper for the Canadian slugger. Kristie McConn would find her way to first with a picture-perfect bunt before advancing to second on a wild pitch. McConn would score on an error by Michigan third baseman Maggie Viehaus to enter the fifth inning leading, 2-1.
Florida State came up with a multitude of stellar defensive plays in the game, including a diving catch down the third base line by Michelle Snyder and a grab by right fielder Jessica Gilmore up against the tarp in foul territory. The game was tied up at 2-2 in the sixth when Michigan first baseman Dorian Shaw deposited a 1-2 pitch onto Spirit Way over the left field wall.
The Wolverines jumped ahead in what would be a wild ninth inning when Megan Gregory scored the go-ahead run – under Seminole Classic rules, the international tiebreaker was employed in extra innings. In the FSU half of the ninth, Rafter laced the first pitch to center field for a single before a fielding error by Michigan center fielder Molly Bausher would allow Monica Montez to score the tying run, with Rafter ending up on third with no out. After a Courtney Rosen walk, Rafter was thrown out at home on an Ashley Stager groundout – leaving runners on second and third with one out. Mallory Borden then popped out to short with Gilmore standing in for the final opportunity of the inning. A fantastic catch ended the ninth, when a Gilmore line drive was tipped by first baseman Shaw but corralled by second baseman Steph Kirkpatrick leaving the score tied 3-3 through nine innings.
Michigan struck back in the tenth with a two-run shot by Viehaus down the right field line. Terese Gober would relieve Hamilton and close out Michigan in the tenth – Hamilton would throw 9.2 innings and 157 pitches, allowing five hits and three earned runs while striking out ten and walking four Wolverines. The Noles would step up in the tenth when leadoff batter Snyder was hit by the first pitch from Jordan Taylor, giving the Seminoles a great opportunity with none out and runners on first and second. Carly Wynn came back with a double down the right field line to plate Gilmore and send Snyder to third as the tying run with one out. Montez reached on a fielder’s choice with everybody safe to load the bases. After a Rafter strikeout, Rosen hit a chopper to first, but an error by the first baseman (Michigan’s third of the night) allowed Snyder to score to tie the game. On the play, Wynn would be thrown out at the plate, sending the game into the 11th inning.
After holding the Wolverines without a run in the top of the 11th, Gilmore collected the game-winning hit with a double to the wall scoring Rosen and allowing the Seminoles to commence a jovial celebration after two hours and 53 minutes of play. Gober pitched for the win, taking her record to 8-2 and allowing only one hit over 1.1 innings.
Earlier in the day, FSU took out UC Riverside in a high-scoring 13-2 win with Gober credited with the win. It was the largest margin of victory this season as the Seminoles recorded eight hits and 11 RBI.
Next up to the Garnet and Gold is a rematch with Michigan on Tuesday, February 24, at 4:00 p.m. at the Seminole Softball Complex. Fans unable to attend can visit Seminoles.com to see live stats through GameTracker.