April 3, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Fourth-ranked Florida State (20-6, 6-5 ACC) fell to Virginia Tech (20-9, 6-5 ACC) for the second straight night falling 8-7 on Saturday evening on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. With the win, the Hokies captured their first series victory over the Seminoles in school history, while handing the Garnet and Gold their second conference series loss at home this year.
“It’s obviously disappointing,” said head coach Mike Martin. “But there again, if any body hasn’t seen this Virginia Tech team play they are for real. I haven’t found a weakness throughout their line-up. It was a game we feel behind, we made some pitches that were costly, but at the same time we fought to get back in it. (Ben) Rowen comes in and did a great job of getting us out. Virginia Tech is a solid baseball team.”
The Hokies did all their scoring in the middle part of the game as all eight runs came off FSU starter John Gast (4-2), who lasted just 4.2 innings. The Seminole bullpen stymied the Hokie offense the rest of the way as Tyler Everett and Daniel Bennett combined to give up just one hit and one walk the remaining 4.1 innings.
With the bullpen keeping the Noles in the ball game, the Florida State offense made a valiant effort to get back in the game. Down five heading into the seventh, FSU cut the lead to one scoring four runs while sending nine batters to the plate. James Ramsey began the rally drawing a one out walk from Virginia Tech starter Matthew Price (4-1). He would move to second on a base hit back up the middle by Stuart Tapley. A pair of wild pitches scored Ramsey and put Tapley on at third for Sherman Johnson. The sophomore third baseman came through with his first hit of the game lacing an opposite field single to left scoring Tapley for the second run of the inning.
Price’s evening would come to a close after the Johnson base hit as the Hokies brought on Ben Rowen for the second night in a row. Rowen walked Devon Travis but then got pinch hitter Mike Meschke looking on strikes. Rafael Lopez kept the inning alive with an infield single loading the bases for Tyler Holt. Holt stepped in and after fouling off a couple pitches sent a double off the fence in right center. With a great jump off the bag at first, Lopez would have had a great shot of scoring the tying run, but unfortunately for the Noles the ball found its way behind one of the wall advertisements resulting in a ground rule double, Lopez stopping at third and two RBI for Holt. With runners at second and third, Rowen retired the side getting Stephen Cardullo swinging on strikes.
“You will never hear any excuses out of us,” added Martin on Holt’s bizarre play in right center. “I will say I don’t remember, but maybe one other time, that happening. And I can’t state when it happened or what part of the fence it got stuck in.”
In the eighth, singles by Ramsey and Johnson put runners at the corners with two outs. But Rowen once again got out of the jam getting pinch hitter Sean Gilmartin to ground out to first for the final out.
Rowen came back out to pitch the ninth retiring Florida State in order to earn his third save of the season.
“The past couple of games we haven’t been getting it down early in the ball game,” said Tapley. “We have been getting it done in the eighth and ninth innings which can’t happen all the time if we are going to be successful in this league. They are a great ball club. Every situation matters whether it is in the first or the ninth. We just need to come out tomorrow and hopefully get the job done.”
Florida State was the first to strike in game two scoring a run in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Ramsey. With Holt and Mike McGee aboard following a hit-by-pitch and walk, respectively, Ramsey found the hole through the right side to plate the first run of the ball game.
Virginia Tech grabbed a three-run lead with one swing of the bat in the third. With the bases loaded, Hokie first baseman Ronnie Shaban went opposite field on a 0-1 pitch from Gast taking one off the scoreboard in left for his fourth home run of the season. The home run was the first allowed by Gast in 34 innings this year. It also marked the first grand slam given up by a Seminole pitcher since April 12, 2009 when North Carolina’s Kyle Seager hit one in the sixth inning off Geoff Parker.
The Seminoles answered right back adding two in the bottom of the third to cut the deficit to 4-3. Cardullo led off the inning with a double down the left field line and moved to third on a single by McGee. Ramsey recorded his second RBI of the game sending a sac-fly to left to bring home Cardullo. A stolen base and a wild pitch put McGee at third and he would score a batter later on Tapley’s single off the fence in right.
The Hokies pushed their lead to 5-3 on a solo shot by Tony Balisteri. The junior third baseman unloaded on a 3-1 pitch from Gast sending it out of the stadium in left center for his third home run of the season and second in as many games.
FSU threatened putting runners at the corners with two outs in the fourth as Price issued walks to Jayce Boyd and Cardullo. But the Hokie right hander got out of the jam getting McGee to pop out to short to end the inning.
Virginia Tech added to its lead in the fifth scoring three runs all on two outs for an 8-3 advantage. Gast registered two quick outs before giving up a double down the left field line to Anthony Sosnoskie followed by an RBI single up the middle by Michael Seaborn. Buddy Sosnoskie capped the scoring unloading on a two-run shot to left. The home run ended the evening for Gast after just 4.2 innings. Everett came on and struck out Balisteri for the third out.
The Hokies tagged Gast for eight runs and 11 hits on Saturday, both career-highs for the junior southpaw.
The Seminoles opened the bottom of the fifth on a promising note with back-to-back singles by Ramsey and Tapley, but Price retired the next three batters in order without a run crossing the plate to keep the Hokie lead at five.
Ramsey and Tapley finished the game with a season-high three hits each, while Johnson picked up a pair of hits to extend his hit streak to a team-best nine games. Ramsey, Tapley and Johnson combined to go 8-for-13 for the Seminoles on Saturday night responsible for 67 percent of FSU’s 12 hits.
The Seminoles return to the diamond for the series finale against the Hokies on Sunday, April 4 at 1:00 p.m. The game will air on FS Florida and FCS Central, while fans can listen in locally on 100.7 FM and on the web at Seminoles.com.