March 19, 2005
Michael Hyde (5-2) picked up the victory for FSU going six innings and Shane Robinson collected three hits as he moved two games away from tying the FSU record for the longest hitting streak in school history (34). Ruairi O’Connor racked up five RBIs and two doubles in his ACC debut. O’Connor set career highs for hits in a game (3), doubles in a game (2) and RBIs in a game (5).
“I struggled for a while but I am starting to feel good at the plate,” said O’Connor. “It is a great feeling to come up with runners on and help my team win. My confidence is growing but I know this game will humble you in a second. I have to keep working and stay even keeled. That is where I am right now. I am trying not to get too high off this performance.”
“Ruairi certainly did have some good at bats tonight but there were a lot of young men that had good at bats tonight,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin. “We have told these guys that they aren’t freshmen anymore. Tonight our hitters showed good discipline and were aggressive in counts they needed to be aggressive with but it was a big lift for us when Ruairi drove those runs in tonight.”
Hyde went six innings allowing two runs on eight hits. He struck out six batters and did not issue a walk. The Tallahassee native has now allowed just two walks in the last 17 2/3 innings of work and he has not issued a walk in two of his last three outings. The sophomore has also gone five or more innings in every appearance this season.
“Coach Martin is really stressing coming out and getting ahead of hitters and not giving up free passes,” said Hyde. “I have been able to do that so far this year and that is the way I have to do it because I am not going to over power guys. I have to get out ahead and make hitters hit my pitches. I have been fortunate to do that so far.”
This was the seventh time in eight outings that Hyde has allowed three runs or less and the sixth straight game in which he has struck out more batters than he has walked. The only two times that Hyde has allowed more than two earned runs in a game came in a three-run performance versus Auburn and in his previous start versus Hawaii where the Rainbows touched him up for 10 runs.
“I was just glad to be out here especially after losing that game in Hawaii,” said Hyde. “I wanted to come out and prove myself. This was a conference game and ACC games are always big so it felt good to put that last start behind me and get back to helping my team win.”
The Hokies broke out to an early 1-0 lead in the first thanks to a two-out base hit to right by designated hitter Billy Marn. The single scored Nate Parks from second after he led off the game with a base hit.
For the second straight game and the 12th time in 32 games, Robinson extended his hit streak in the first inning as he singled to right center. A balk moved Robinson to second and then Gibbs Chapman beat out a sac bunt attempt at first for a bunt single putting runners on the corners. An Aaron Cheesman walk loaded the base as Tech starter Ryan Kennedy (2-2) was still in search for his first out of the game. An error at first allowed two FSU runs to come home and after a sac bunt, a ground out by Ryne Jernigan brought the third run of the inning home. O’Connor then picked up his first RBI on a single through the left side as the Seminoles moved in front 4-1.
“We did a lot of things right tonight but especially in the first when we scored four runs,” said Martin. “That inning was a big lift. I was very pleased with the at bat Cheesman had where he worked the count to get a walk and load the bases. He set things up for Peacher and he hit the ball hard and it got by their first baseman. It was a very good inning of baseball and it set the tone for us.”
Florida State tried to add to the lead in the second as Tony Thomas, Jr. led the inning off with a single and eventually moved to second. A two-out walk to Cheesman brought up Brant Peacher who drove the fifth run of the game in for FSU with a single to center field.
A bizarre third inning resulted in another FSU run as the Seminoles moved out in front 6-1. It all started with a Jernigan bunt single. The freshman looked to have swiped second but batter interference was called for the first out sending Jernigan back to first. Charles Cleveland singled to put runners on first and second. Thomas then popped up in between home plate and the pitcher’s mound. With the infield fly rule in effect, the second baseman was called out despite Virginia Tech loosing the ball in the lights allowing Jernigan to move to third. A Robinson infield single brought the run home.
Hyde got into his first real trouble of the night in the fourth as he gave up a run and then three straight singles to load the bases with two away but a grounder to Cleveland, who turned a key double play earlier in the inning, ended the top of the fourth.
The Seminoles first extra base hit of the series came via a Peacher double to the gap in left. The hit moved Cheesman to third after the senior drew his third walk of the game. It was also the catcher’s sixth straight game with a walk. A free pass to Jernigan loaded the bases and O’Connor knocked in two runs as he sent a shot into the gap in left for his third double of the season. The double ended Kennedy’s night and brought reliever M.J. Hurley into the game. Cleveland welcomed the reliever with a single to shallow right driving in two more runs and extending the FSU lead to 10-2.
Hurley got right back into trouble in the bottom of the seventh walking the first two batters he faced on nine pitches before recording his first out. Hurley got out number two before a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. New short stop Nick Francis got hit to load the bases, which signaled the end of the night for Hurley as Matt McGahey entered the game for the Hokies. O’Connor greeted the freshman by doubling home two more runs as he upped his RBI total to five and the Seminole lead to 12-2.
“I got two fast balls on both of those doubles,” said O’Connor. “I just sat on them and drove them. When you get to see good pitches because the guys in front of you are getting on base, good things happen.”
The Seminoles conclude their series with the Hokies Sunday, March 20 at 1:00 p.m. The Garnet and Gold is expected to throw Mark Sauls (2-0, 0.52 ERA). 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.