June 6, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Baseball is a game filled with its highs and lows and that was on display in full force Saturday afternoon as Florida State (45-18) saw its season come to a close on a two-run, walk-off double by Arkansas (39-22) in the bottom of the ninth as the Razorbacks went on to defeat the Seminoles 9-8 on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. Razorback left fielder Andrew Darr came through with the game-winning hit advancing Arkansas to the College World Series for the sixth time in school history.
Trailing by two in the top of the ninth, the Seminoles were down to the their final out before putting together a two-out rally scoring three times off Arkansas closer Stephen Richards (6-1) to take an 8-7 lead. Stephen Cardullo tied the game with a two-run single through the left side scoring Sherman Johnson and Tyler Holt. After a walk to Mike McGee, Jason Stidham gave the Seminoles the lead on a single to left scoring Cardullo from second. Holt started the two-out rally lacing a double to right.
In the bottom of the ninth, reliever Jack Posey (0-1) got Andy Wilkins to fly out to Cardullo in short center for out number one. But then a walk to Bo Bigham and a single to Zack Cox lead to the walk-off double to the gap in left center by Darr to give Arkansas the come-from-behind victory.
Holt finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with two doubles and a single, while Cardullo and McGee drove in three runs a piece. Holt finished the NCAA Tournament hitting .522 (12-for-23) in five games with six doubles and 11 RBI.
The first scoring threat of the afternoon belonged to Arkansas as the Razorbacks loaded the bases on two outs thanks to the first of four hits by Darr and a fielding error by Cardullo at short on a groundball off the bat James McCann. FSU starter Brian Busch left the bases loaded as he got Collin Kuhn to line out to Stuart Tapley at third to keep the game knotted at zero.
Florida State broke the scoreless tie in the fourth on an RBI single by McGee. Holt led off the inning with a single and moved to second on his 34th stolen base of the season. The stolen base moved Holt into a tie for ninth place on the all-time single-season list at FSU. Two batters later, McGee sent a flare into short center on the ninth pitch of the at-bat to give the Seminoles their first lead of the Super Regional.
The lead was short lived as with one swing of the bat Arkansas tied the game at one. Wilkins led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run, taking the first pitch from Busch over the wall in left center for his 18th round tripper of the season. Bigham followed with a double to left, but Busch came back with back-to-back strikeouts and a pop out to second to close out the fourth.
The Seminoles regained the lead in the fifth with four runs to take a 5-1 advantage. Florida State put together three consecutive one-out hits including Holt’s RBI double off the fence in right center scoring Mike Meschke who got things started with an opposite field single. Cardullo then brought home Rafael Lopez on an RBI groundout to short. McGee provided the biggest hit of the inning drilling a two-out, 2-2 offering from Arkansas starter Brett Eibner over the wall in left center for his 19th home run of the season.
Eibner’s afternoon would come to a close after issuing a walk to Stidham. The sophomore right hander worked 4.2 innings allowing five runs on seven hits as he walked two and struck out four.
After giving up a lead off walk to Kuhn to begin the bottom of the fifth, Busch struck out the next two batters and got Scott Lyons to fly out in foul territory as the Seminoles maintained their four-run lead.
The freshman southpaw retired six straight batters before giving up a solo shot to Darr to start the bottom of the seventh. That would be final batter Busch would face leaving after six plus innings of work.
The Razorbacks were not finished in the seventh scoring four more times to take a 6-5 lead. Arkansas sent nine batters to the plate, while the Seminoles went to the bullpen three times bringing on Geoff Parker, John Gast and Jimmy Marshall. The Razorbacks tagged the three pitchers for a combined four runs, only one of which was earned, on a hit and three walks. Bigham registered the go ahead hit lacing a two-run single back up the middle off Marshall to give the Razorbacks their first lead of the game.
Busch finished the game holding the Arkansas offense to just two runs on six hits as the Boca Raton, Fla., native walked just one, while posting a career-high eight strikeouts.
T.J. Forrest came out of the Arkansas bullpen and shut down the Seminoles for 2.2 innings as he retired all eight batters that he faced before turning the ball over to Richards with one out in the eighth.
Florida State concludes the season at 45-18 and 19-9 in the ACC. The Seminoles finished with the best league record while capturing their third straight Atlantic Division title in 2009.