June 3, 2006
Athens, GA – Coming into the 2006 NCAA Tournament, the 18th-ranked Seminole baseball team felt pretty good about the way they had been hitting the ball. Florida State scored seven or more runs in their last four games of the ACC Tournament and hit 13 homers in the last eight games. None of that could have prepared FSU fans for what happened Friday. Florida State opened the 2006 Athens Regional with an offensive explosion. The Seminoles (43-19) scored a season-high six runs in the first inning and cruised to an 18-0 opening game win over No. 3 seed Jacksonville (42-18). After three weather delays that totaled 15 hours and 19 minutes, FSU completed the victory early Saturday morning.
“Michael Hyde pitched very well,” said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin. “We had some very good at bats against an outstanding pitcher in (JU ace Matt) Dobbins. The big homerun by Tony (Thomas, Jr.) was a tremendous lift to us to give us three more runs for a total of six in that first inning.
“It was a game that just happened to get away from Jacksonville. They are a very good baseball team. It just happened to get away from them. When you are in a tournament you are going to do everything you can to save the people you want to save. I am sure that had a lot to do with the number of runs that were scored.”
As impressive as FSU was offensively and on the mound, the story of the game became the weather. Before the first pitch was even thrown on Friday there was a 39 minute delay. The game was halted again prior to the fourth inning, this time for 1:31. Then with FSU leading 18-0 in the top of the eighth, weather suspended the game for 13:19, which was resumed at 9:00 a.m. Saturday.
“First time in a long time I have taken my uniform off and it is the first thing I put on the next morning without putting on anything in between,” said Martin. “It was a day that is definitely designed for the youth. They don’t have any problems with it.”
It was hard to choose which was the bigger story between the high-powered offense or the FSU pitching staff that held JU to just three hits and recorded the seventh shutout of the season. Florida State starter Hyde (9-1) continued his postseason mastery as he was brilliant versus JU. The junior pitched five scoreless innings and limited the Dolphins to just two hits. He tied a season-high with five K’s and walked just one batter. It was the second time in his last three starts that Hyde issued one free pass or less.
“I felt good,” said Hyde of his outing Friday. “I felt I was able to repeat what I did in the ACC Tournament. My mechanics and everything like that. I was excited about that. I threw my fastball and changeup a lot better because of what (me and coach Shouppe) worked on prior to the ACC Tournament.”
“Once (Hyde) settled down after the first inning he threw low strikes,” said Jacksonville Head Coach Terry Alexander. “He kept the ball down and didn’t give us anything to drive to try and get back in it. We didn’t do a good job of making adjustments but a lot of that was he worked the outside half of the plate very well. They had a big lead and he knew how to pitch with that lead. We were trying to score runs in bunches and the way he was pitching we would have scored a run every know and then. That wasn’t conducive to our plan.”
Hyde has been nothing short of spectacular for the Seminoles in the postseason. He has now gone a career high 12 1/3 innings without allowing a run, 12 of which have come in starts at the ACC and NCAA Tournaments. In four career starts in the postseason Hyde ran his record to 3-0 with a 0.70 ERA. He has 18 strikeouts and just six walks.
“I love the competition in the postseason,” said Hyde of his tournament success. “I just go out there like I try to in every game and pitch well.”
FSU used just two pitchers in the game as Travis Burge relieved Hyde Friday and finished the game Saturday morning. The freshman allowed just one hit in four innings of work. He and Hyde combined to throw a three-hitter. It was the fewest hits allowed by FSU since the team two-hit Savannah State April 28. It was the fewest hits for the Dolphins since March 12 when they had just three in a 4-1 loss to Belmont.
“Both guys spotted their fastballs very well,” said Martin of his pitchers. “Michael’s curveball has been a lot harder. That makes his changeup more effective. Travis has a very good upside. We are anxious for him to continue to work and improve his changeup and a little harder curveball. We are expecting him to be a very good pitcher.”
The only thing that could overshadow the game Hyde pitched was the Seminole bats. FSU had its most hits since they put up 20 in a 16-1 win over Miami April 15. The 18 runs scored were the most since they scored 21 versus Brown March 5. The Seminoles tied a season-high with five doubles in the game and hit three more homers as they have now gone yard 16 times in the last nine games. It was the most runs scored by FSU in an NCAA Tournament game since a 19-3 win over UCF in 2004 and it was the widest margin of victory since a 24-6 win over The Citadel in 1999.
Once again it was the second half of the FSU order that drove the offense. The Seminoles’ 6, 7 and 8 hitters accounted for 13 of the 18 RBIs. Ryan Strauss and Travis Anderson both had career RBI totals and Thomas’s three-run homer in the first was the biggest blow of the game.
“We are out here just playing the game not trying to do anything special,” said Thomas of the guys at the bottom of the batting order. “We know the top of the line-up is going to contribute as well so it is a whole team effort. If we are contributing along with the top of the line-up doing their thing, we know we are a very hard team to beat.”
“We know it takes all of us,” said Martin. “We can’t depend on two or three people to win baseball games. In this particular game those young men really did lift their team.”
Hyde got off to a rough start after a 39-minute rain delay. After Brian Hudgins hit a ball in the gap but slipped going around first, Hyde walked the next batter putting two on with nobody out. The third and fourth batters of the game both flew out to center then Hyde got Thomas LePage watching strike three to end the inning.
“We jumped out and hit a double but slipped in the mud at first,” said Alexander. “Then we got a walk and did nothing. Three, four and five, we just didn’t get it going. We needed a hit right there in the first.”
“It is a crazy game,” said Martin. “The guy hits the ball off the wall at the beginning of the game and he ends up getting a single out of it. We get out of the first inning when they had first and second nobody out. That was a big lift for us.”
The bad start to the game continued for JU in the bottom of the first as FSU exploded for six-runs. Shane Robinson opened the bottom of the first by drawing a walk off of JU ace and second team All-American Dobbins (12-1). Robinson moved to second on a wild pitch and then Jack Rye singled to right putting runners on the corners. Another Dobbins pitch in the dirt allowed Rye to move into scoring position and then the third walk of the inning drove in the first FSU run. A booted double play ball to third plated the second run and made it a 2-0 Florida State lead.
“As bad as Dobbins threw, he walks two guys a game and he had four walks in the first inning,” said Alexander. “We had the bases loaded with one run in and there’s a ground ball to third, a double play ball and we didn’t make the play. That opened the door for a six-run inning.
“We could have been running off the field trailing 1-0 and had an opportunity to right the ship.”
A fielder’s choice scored another Seminole run as the lead grew to 3-0. Dobbins, who should have been out of the inning, couldn’t escape without further damage as Thomas hit a three-run shot over the left field fence doubling the FSU lead. After Dobbins walked Danny Diaz and then fell behind Robinson for the second time in the inning, he was pulled. It was the shortest outing of the season for the left-hander.
“I think that homerun was a very important part of the game,” said Thomas when asked about the significance of his three-run shot. “It was a big momentum boost for everybody. We were just chipping away and the homerun put us up 6-0. It relieved some stress from being in the first game of the NCAA Tournament. It allowed us to kick back and start playing baseball. After that first inning, there was no stress. It gave us all the confidence we needed at the plate and played a role in us getting 18 hits in this game.”
Thomas continued his hot hitting as he opened up the third with a double into the corner in right. Diaz moved him to third on a sac bunt and then Robinson drove the run in on a grounder to short.
After another rain delay, this one an hour and thirty-one minutes, Hyde took the hill and hit the first batter he faced. A Gordie Gronkowski single put two men on with nobody out. A double play ball got FSU its first two outs of the inning but moved the runner 90 feet away from home. Hyde wouldn’t let the run come around though as he upped his career-best scoreless inning streak to 11 1/3.
Posey opened up the bottom of the fourth with a double down the right field line. Dennis Guinn was walked before a deep fly ball out put runners on the corners. A wild pitch moved Guinn into scoring position and Anderson cashed in. The DH drove a ball into the gap in right plating two more runs. It was Anderson’s third double of the postseason matching the number he had from the entire year. Strauss followed with a double into the gap in left as the Seminoles upped their lead to double digit runs at 10-0.
Robinson single-handedly made it an 11-0 game as the junior homered to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, which opened up another big inning for FSU. The Seminoles tacked on five more runs following the homer as they batted around for the second time in the game. Posey, Anderson, Strauss and Mark Gildea all recorded hits in the frame. It was the first time this season FSU plated six runs in two innings in a game.
FSU was back at it in the sixth. Straus knocked in his career-high fifth RBI making it a 17-0 game.
Josh Spivey, who replaced Rye in right, made it 18-0 as he hit FSU’s third homer of the game.
Florida State continues play in the Athens Regional tonight at 7:00 p.m. versus the winner of the Georgia/Sacred Heart game. The game will be carried live on SUN Sports, FSN South and Turner South. Please check your local listings for the channel in your area that will carry the game. Steve Melewski will also bring the game to you live on 1270 WFLA in Tallahassee and over the Internet at Seminoles.com. Game Tracker will also be available for the winner’s bracket game.
OTHER NEWS: Seminole junior Shane Robinson picked up his second All-America honor of the season Friday. The outfielder was named a third team All-American by Louisville Slugger and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. This is the second All-America award for Robinson this season and his second straight year being honored by Louisville Slugger and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
NOTES: Shane Robinson reached base to lead off a game for the 28th time this year. FSU is 23-5 in those games…Robinson tied a single season high with his sixth homerun of the year…Travis Anderson now has as many doubles (3) in the postseason (5 games) as he did in the entire regular season (31 games)…FSU scored double digit runs for the third time in the last nine games…of the 49 games in which Buster Posey has a hit, 26 have been multi-hit games…FSU’s 6-7-8 hitters combined for 13 of FSU’s 18 RBIs…Travis Anderson had a career high 4 RBIs…Ryan Strauss set a career-high with five RBIs…Strauss set a new career high with two doubles in the game…FSU tied a season with five doubles in the game…Michael Hyde has now gone a career-high 12 1/3 scoreless innings…Hyde has lost just once since March 10 0f 2005 covering 31 appearances and 21 starts…Hyde is 3-0 in his career in the postseason with a 0.70 ERA in four starts…this was the most walks a team had versus the JU pitching staff this season…FSU established a new season-high for hits versus JU…Buster Posey tied a career-high reaching base four times in the game…this was the most runs scored by FSU since they defeated Brown 21-5 March 4…this was the fewest hits FSU pitchers have allowed since a two-hitter versus Savannah State April 28…FSU scored six runs in two separate innings for the first time in 2006…FSU’s six runs in the first inning were the most runs the team had scored in the first this year…Travis Burge picked up the first save of his FSU career.