Feb. 28, 2008
Auburn, Ala. – Despite game time temperatures in the mid-40’s, Florida State (4-0) didn’t let the cold weather effect its play in the first of a four game set against Auburn as the Seminoles passed an early season test downing Auburn (4-1) 7-5 in their first road contest of the season. Senior Dennis Guinn and freshman Stuart Tapley each recorded three hits while Seminole starter Elih Villanueva worked 5.1 innings to register his second win of the season.
“Any win on the road against a quality team like Auburn is so important regardless of how early on in the season we are at this point,” said head coach Mike Martin. “We know that tomorrow is an even bigger game. We just have to come out and play tough baseball.”
Guinn was the difference maker as his two-run homer in the top of the eighth gave the Seminoles a three-run cushion. The senior from Haines City, Fla., was a triple short of hitting for the cycle as he collected three RBIs, scored twice and made nine putouts at first base.
“First off Luke Greinke is a great pitcher and a great competitor,” stated Guinn. “It just feels good to come into someone else’s park and get a win. We still have another one tomorrow and hopefully we can pull that one out as well. I’m just trying to battle and hang in there. My goal is to hit the ball up the middle every time I’m at the plate.”
Tapley went 3-for-4 at the plate with a triple and a run scored, while Buster Posey posted two hits in three at-bats with a run and an RBI. He also went to the mound in the ninth and earned his first collegiate save.
The Seminoles struck first with a run in the top of the second on an RBI groundout by right fielder Ohmed Danesh. Guinn led off the inning roping a double off the 30 foot wall in left field. He advanced to third on a wild pitch by Auburn starting pitcher Luke Greinke (1-1) and would score four pitches later on Danesh’s groundout to second.
Auburn looked to answer the Seminole run in the bottom of the second as Tiger first baseman Hunter Morris led off the inning hitting a double down the right field line. But that was as far as he would get as FSU starting pitcher Elih Villanueva retired the next three batters on a strikeout, fly out to short center and groundout to Jason Stidham at second to end the inning and maintain the Seminoles one run lead.
Florida State added three more runs in the top of the third to extend its lead to 4-0. For the third straight inning the leadoff batter reached as Tapley laced a single up the middle. With one out, Stidham extended his hitting streak to six games with a single to right to put runners at first and second. Posey then stepped in and gave the Seminoles a two-run lead hitting a single just over the out stretched arms of Tiger second baseman Justin Hargett to score Tapley from second. Stidham made a heads up play racing around to third on the hit as he would score one batter later on a sacrifice fly to right by Tony Delmonico. Guinn picked up his second hit in as many at-bats singling to left with two outs to score Posey from second to close out the Seminole scoring in the third.
The Tigers cut into the Seminole lead with three runs in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 4-3. Villanueva hit Brian Fletcher on the very first pitch and after striking out Mike Bianucci, walked Morris to put runners on first and second with one out. Joseph Sanders stepped in and blasted a double to the gap in left scoring Fletcher and Morris for Auburn’s first two runs of the game. With runners at first and second following a walk to Kevin Patterson, Auburn attempted a double steal. A throwing error to third by Posey scored Sanders on the play and put Patterson at third. Posey would redeem himself on the very next play as he picked off Patterson at third on an attempted squeeze play. The play turned out to be huge as Matt Hall singled to left which would have scored Patterson and tied the game at four. The inning would come to close as Villanueva threw out Hall at first for his second pickoff of the season.
The Seminoles answered with an unearned run in the top of fifth on freak play in the outfield. Greinke started the inning hitting center fielder Tyler Holt on a 3-2 pitch. Following a fly out to center by Stidham, Florida State played the hit and run to perfection as Posey laced a single to left center. The ball got by both the Tiger left and center fielder allowing Holt to score all the way from first. Posey ended up at third on the fielding error by the Tigers and would remain there to make the score 5-3.
Auburn would get a run back in the sixth on an RBI double by Sanders. The combination of a free pass and a balk would come back to hurt Villanueva as Sanders crushed a double off the bottom of the wall in left center scoring Morris from second.
The night would come to an end for Villanueva following the Sanders’ double as the junior transfer lasted 5.1 innings giving up four runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out six while throwing 94 pitches.
Jimmy Marshall came out of the bullpen and gave up a single to left by Patterson. Sanders rounded third and looked to tie the game at five but freshman left fielder Mike McGee threw a bullet to Posey at the plate to gun down Sanders and keep the Seminole lead at 5-4. Marshall then got Hall to groundout to Delmonico at short to end the inning.
Marshall pitched the seventh and retired the first two batters on a strikeout and fly out to left. He then hit Mummey on a questionable call as the Auburn center fielder squared around to bunt. The home plate umpire called Mummey back to the plate but after a meeting with the third base umpire it was declared the pitch did hit the Tiger batter. Mummey then moved up a base after stealing second and looked to score on a bounding ball up the middle by Fletcher, but Delmonico stretched out to get the ball behind second, spun around and threw a strike to Guinn for the final out of the inning.
The Delmonico, Guinn combination would come into play in the top of the eighth as Florida State increased its lead to 7-4. Delmonico singled to center for his first hit of the ball game and came around to score on Guinn’s two-run homer over the 30 foot wall in left. The Seminole first baseman had the green light on a 3-0 offering from Tiger reliever Bradley Hendrix depositing the ball over the fence for his second home run of the season and third hit of the evening.
Auburn added a run in the eighth on a pair of doubles by Bianucci and Patterson. Bianucci led off the eighth hitting a double off the wall in left. After a fly out and a groundout to short, Patterson hit a towering double off the wall in deep center scoring Bianucci to cut the Seminole lead to 7-5. The inning continued on a fielding error by Tapley but Marshall got Ryan Jenkins to fly out to Guinn in foul territory to keep the lead at two.
Marshall ended the evening pitching 2.2 innings of solid relief for the Seminoles as he allowed a run on three hits while striking out one.
The ninth inning belonged to Posey as he earned his first collegiate save in his new role as the Seminole closer. The hard throwing right hander recorded a groundout and two strikeouts to keep the Seminoles undefeated on the season with a 7-5 victory. After recording two quick outs, Posey hit Ben Jones with a 2-2 offering to bring the tying run to the plate in Bianucci. But Posey blew three straight fastballs past Bianucci to give the Seminoles their first road win of the season.
“It looked like the hit-by-pitch made him mad,” added Martin. “I think the next three pitches he threw were over 90 (MPH). Buster is a great competitor, he showed what he had by getting the job done.”
“That was fun,” said Posey. “That was the first time that I have ever closed a ball game. It was hard to tell how hard I was throwing the ball tonight because I had so much adrenaline going on out there. The toughest thing for me was to calm myself down as I walked out to the mound and try not to do too much.”
The Seminoles will return to the diamond on Friday, February 29 in the second game of a home and home series against Auburn. Game time for Friday is slated for 3:00 pm CST. Gametracker will be available for the game, while Eric Luallen will broadcast the game live over the radio on 1270 the Team.