April 15, 2005
Atlanta, GA – Florida State had its chances in the opening game of a three-game series with Georgia Tech. FSU played perfect defense, got some timely hits and out hit the nation’s third-best offense. It wasn’t enough though. Georgia Tech used two, three-run homers and then withstood two FSU attempted comebacks to down the Seminoles 6-4 Friday night. Florida State stranded eight base runners in the loss and tied a season high with 11 strikeouts. It was the first loss of the year for Seminole starter Barret Browning (3-1) and it dropped FSU to 33-9 on the season and 9-4 in the ACC. Georgia Tech is now 27-7 and 14-2 in conference.
Browning went six innings and allowed five hits. All six runs were earned and both of Tech’s homers came with two outs in the inning. Browning struck out seven and walked only two in the defeat.
“He (Barret Browning) really pitched well tonight,” said head coach Mike Martin. “It was his best outing as a Seminole. It is unfortunate. Their club is a very talented baseball team. Barret happened to throw one in that spot but you have to give him credit for doing a great job tonight.”
“Those are two pitches I definitely would want back,” said Browning. “Anytime you give up runs it is disappointing. The pitches were thrown where they were supposed to be thrown but they have some good hitters. Give Georgia Tech credit.”
Browning’s first home run surrendered this season staked Tech to a 3-0 lead in the second. FSU came back with three of its own runs in the top of the third to tie the game. Browning then responded by retiring 12 of the next 13 batters. The only batter to reach came on a walk.
“A three run home run buries you a little bit,” said Browning. “Especially with a good team like that you know they are going to continue to swing the bat, which they did. Like we have done all year, we battled back. We made them play baseball. They pushed us and we pushed them. It was a good ball game. I just wish we could have some out on top.”
“He bounced right back and held them in check (after that first home run),” said Martin about Browning. “He was a bulldog tonight and that is what we wanted to see. It was disappointing but encouraging in many respects as well.”
Both teams put a runner on in the first but each was erased by a caught stealing. Then in the second Georgia Tech mounted the first threat of the game. Wes Hodges led off with a single chopped into left field. He swiped second and then moved to third on a long fly ball out to the warning track in right. Matt Wieters then grounded out to short bringing the first run of the game in. Browning then hit the next batter before surrendering his first homer of the season as Andy Hawranick went deep over the left field wall putting the Jackets in front 3-0.
After falling behind for the 11th time in the last 12 games, Florida State tried to get some runs back as Ryne Jernigan singled and moved to second when the ball was bobbled in the outfield. Another error put runners on the corners before Tech starter Lee Hyde (5-1, 3-1) got back-to-back strikeouts to nearly escape the threat but Ryne Malone singled driving in the Seminoles’ first run of the game. The run broke a streak of 15 scoreless innings for Hyde. Aaron Cheesman then came up and broke another streak. The senior doubled down the left field line tying the game at 3-3. It broke a string of 25 straight singles by the catcher and it was his first extra base hit since March 25.
Robinson extended his streak of reaching base safely to 57 games in the fifth when he doubled for the 19th time this season. That double set a new single season high for the All-American candidate. Cheesman then drew a two-out walk but FSU was unable to break the tie.
The game cruised along until a two out double in the bottom of the sixth. It was the first hit allowed by Browning since the home run as he retired 12 of the next 13 batters. The junior then issued his second free pass to put runners on first and second with two away. Browning couldn’t escape the inning though as he got out to a 0-2 lead before surrendering his second homer of the game. It was just the second time this season that an FSU pitcher surrendered two homers in a game.
Just like they did in the third, FSU responded to a Georgia Tech three spot by trying to stage a two-out rally. Robinson started it with a single through the middle of the infield. Malone then singled to center putting runners on the corners. A walk to Cheesman loaded the bases and brought an end to Hyde’s night. Reliever Tim Gustafson came in and got Brant Peacher to ground out to short to end the threat.
Brian Chambers came in to open the bottom of the seventh for FSU and kept Tech at bay allowing FSU to cut the lead by one in the eight. Danny Wardell took a 3-2 Gustafson offering over the wall in left making it a 6-4 game.
Chambers made it through two more outs in the eight but with a runner standing on second, Matt DiBlasi came in to relieve him. It took DiBlasi just one pitch to send the game into the ninth.
After a K by Tech closer Wieters (4), Robinson recorded his second double of the game to give FSU life in the ninth. Another strikeout brought Cheesman to the plate representing the tying run. The senior catcher laced a shot that looked like it had a chance to clear the fence and tie the game but a catch up against the wall in left ended the contest.
The Seminoles continue their series with No. 4 Georgia Tech Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Saturday’s game will be the ACC Game of the Week and will be carried on Sun Sports as will Sunday’s series finale. Sophomore Michael Hyde Game Tracker will be available for all FSU’s 2005 games along with Steve Melewski’s live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.