June 3, 2007
Tallahassee, Fla. – As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And unfortunately for Florida State it ended unexpectedly on Sunday night on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. The Seminoles quest for a return to the College World Series came up just short as Mississippi State defeated FSU 9-4 to claim the NCAA Tallahassee Regional on Sunday evening. The Bulldogs scored six runs, three in each of the first and third innings, and got a solid pitching performance from Josh Johnson to advance to next week’s Super Regional.
Florida State hit the ball hard on Sunday night but couldn’t seem to find the breaks as the Bulldogs limited the Seminoles to just four runs on six hits.
Jack Rye had an outstanding game as he crushed two home runs to right field. His first came with two outs in the top of the first and his second in the sixth. He drove in three of the Seminole runs, while Mark Hallberg was responsible for the other one.
It looked as though Florida State would go quietly in the top of the first as Mississippi State starter Josh Johnson got to quick outs. But a walk to Buster Posey opened the door for Jack Rye’s two-run homer over the right field fence. The junior right fielder skied a 1-0 offering from Johnson to right to give the Seminoles an early 2-0 lead.
Mississippi State answered right back in its half of the first with two home runs to take a 3-2 lead. Jeffrey Rea led off the game with a walk and scored on Brandon Turner’s two-run homer to left. FSU starter Danny Rosen answered with back-to-back strikeouts, but let one get away as he offered up a solo shot to Brian LaNinfa to give the Bulldogs a one-run lead.
In the top of the third, the Seminoles evened the game at three on an RBI single by Mark Hallberg. With one out, Tony Thomas, Jr. laced a double off the screen in right center for his 33rd two-bagger of the season. It moved Thomas into a tie for second all-time for doubles in a single-season at FSU with John-Ford Griffin who hit 33 in 2000. The junior second baseman then stole third and scored on Hallberg’s single up the middle.
The Bulldogs had an answer once again as they tallied three runs in the bottom of the third to take a 6-3 advantage. Rosen got the first two outs of the inning but then hit two batters and a walked one to load the bases for Russ Sneed. Sneed once again hurt the Seminoles as he drove in two on a single to left scoring Mitch Moreland and LaNinfa. After a single by Wyn Diggs loaded the bases for the second time in the inning, Jet Butler hit a single off the glove of Rosen to score Joseph McCaskill.
That would end the night for Rosen as the junior right hander was pulled after 2.2 innings. Matt Fairel entered the game and got Jeffrey Rea to strike out swinging to end the threat.
MSU added another run in the bottom of the fourth as Moreland blasted an RBI double to deep centerfield scoring catcher Edward Easley to make the score 7-3.
Florida State cut into the lead in the sixth on Rye’s second home run of the game. Rye crushed the first pitch from Johnson over the fence in right to cut the deficit to 7-4. Travis Anderson was the last Seminole to hit two home runs in a game as he hit a pair against Maryland back on May 4 of this year.
After throwing 99 pitches, Johnson’s night would come to a close as the Bulldog right hander allowed four runs on five hits. He struck out six and walked two leaving the game as the pitcher of record.
Freshman Ricky Bowen entered in the top of seventh and got things started with a strikeout to Mark Gildea. Brandon Reichert and Thomas followed with a single and a walk, respectively. After a long fly ball out to right field by Hallberg, Posey walked to load the bases for Rye. But Rye, who hit two home runs in three previous at-bats in the game, hit a groundball to second to end the inning keeping the score at 7-4.
Mississippi State added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth thanks to a two-RBI single by Moreland with the bases loaded. The Bulldogs registered four consecutive hits off Fairel including Moreland’s big hit to gave MSU a 9-4 lead.
Jimmy Marshall replaced Fairel and struck out the next two batters to end the Mississippi State eighth.
Matt Fairel was outstanding in relief as he kept the Seminoles in the ball game. The freshman southpaw pitched a career-high 4.2 innings allowing three runs on eight hits. He did not walk a batter, while recording a career-high six strikeouts.
Aaron Weatherford and Moreland pitched the eighth and ninth innings, respectively as they shut down the Seminoles. Both pitchers did not allow a hit as they struck out three and walked one sending the Bulldogs to the Super Regional for the first time since 2001.
Five Seminoles were recognized on the NCAA Tallahassee Regional All-Tournament team including catcher Buster Posey, first baseman Brandon Reichert, shortstop Mark Hallberg, outfielder Jack Rye and pitcher Ryan Strauss.
Florida State ends the year at 49-13. The Seminoles finished the year hitting .350 as a team shattering the previous school record of .337 set in 1980. The mark is also a new ACC record surpassing Georgia Tech’s .347 batting average set in 2001.