March 21, 2007
Jacksonville, Fla. – All good things must come to an end and on Wednesday night top-ranked Florida State’s 23-game winning streak came to a close as Jacksonville (16-13) handed FSU (23-1) its first loss of the season with a 5-3 victory at Alexander Brest Field. The win for Jacksonville was its first over the Seminoles since February 24, 2002, when the Dolphins won 13-4 in Jacksonville. Florida State entered tonight’s contest winning 18 straight games over Jacksonville.
“You have to give Jacksonville an awful lot of credit,” said head coach Mike Martin. “They pitched very well; they made defensive plays when they needed to and got the two-out hits. You have to take your hat off to a very good JU team.”
The Dolphins took advantage of two costly Seminole errors in the third to score four unearned runs. Former Seminole Ryan McArdle gave JU the lead for good as he hit a two-out double down the line in right to cap the four-run third.
“Ryan (McArdle) did a very good job,” stated Martin. “That was a pitch that he didn’t handle very well last year. He did a good job of hitting it tonight. You have to be a little happy for him. He wanted to go somewhere and play and there was an opportunity for him to play here in Jacksonville. I was happy for that, but I wasn’t real happy when he got that double.”
Florida State would make things interesting in the top of the ninth as they loaded the bases with one out. But it was to no avail as JU’s Matt Davis got Dennis Guinn to pop up to second base and then Jason Stidham to strike out looking to end the game. The save was Davis’ fourth of the season.
Caleb Graham (0-1) was handed the loss in his first start for the Garnet and Gold as the sophomore right hander worked four innings allowing five runs, one earned, on five hits, while striking out three.
Jimmy Marshall gave on in relief of Graham in the fifth and pitched well as he set down nine straight Dolphin batters before issuing a walk to start the eighth. After he got Mike McCallister to pop up to Stidham at third on an attempted sacrifice bunt, Marshall got McArdle to ground out into an inning ending double play. Marshall pitched four scoreless innings without giving up a hit. He struck out two, while issuing one walk.
“You have to tip your hat off to Jacksonville tonight,” said Marshall. “They played a great game. A couple of things didn’t go our way, but unfortunately that’s the way it goes sometimes. As for my performance tonight, I was able to come in and throw strikes. As a relief pitcher, that’s what you have to do is come in and throw strikes. Luckily, I was able to do that tonight.”
Florida State got on the board in the first with a run by Tony Thomas, Jr. The junior second baseman started the game bouncing the first pitch he saw over the JU third baseman for a leadoff single. He then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Mark Hallberg. It was Hallberg’s team leading sixth sacrifice bunt of the season. Buster Posey gave the Seminoles an early 1-0 lead as he added to his team leading RBI total singling to left to drive in Thomas from second.
The Seminoles took advantage of a couple walks by Dolphin starter D. J. Ackley to increase their lead to 2-0. Hallberg drew a leadoff walk to begin the top of the third and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Posey. After a fly out by Jack Rye advanced Hallberg to third, Ackley issued a two-out walk to Guinn. Stidham then stepped in and laced a 3-2 offering to right field for an RBI single scoring Hallberg.
In the bottom of the third, the tide changed on the Seminoles as Jacksonville scored four unearned runs off Graham to take the lead for good. Logan James began the inning with a leadoff walk and then with one out reached second on a fielding error by Thomas at second. Chuck Opachich drove in the first run of the ball game for the Dolphins as he hit single up the middle scoring James from second. Kevin Ferreira would move to third on the play as D’Vontrey Richardson misplayed the ball in center. McCallister would tie the game at two as he hit a chopper towards Hallberg at short. The ball took a horrible bounce ricocheting off the glove of Hallberg to score Ferreira. McArdle stepped in and hit the game-winner placing a double down the right field line plating Opachich and McCallister. The two-run lead by JU marked the largest deficit faced by the Seminoles all season.
Florida State would cut into the Dolphin lead on an RBI single by Brandon Reichert. Richardson led off the fourth with a walk ending the night for Ackley. Tim Brown would come out of the JU bullpen and after a wild pitch put Richardson on second, Reichert hit a single through the right side plating the freshman center fielder.
Jacksonville would get that run back in bottom of the fourth as Donnie Vickers started the inning with a single up the middle off Graham. He would later score on an RBI groundout by Ferreira.
Brown (2-2) got the win in relief as he stymied the Seminoles for 4.1 innings giving up just one hit. He retired eight straight Florida State batters until issuing a free pass to Posey with one out in the seventh. At one point, Brown set down 10 of the last 12 batters he faced before handing the ball over to Glenn Witkowski with one out in the eighth. After giving up a single to Richardson to place runners at first and second, Witkowski got Reichert to groundout into an inning ending double play.
Posey and Reichert finished the evening with two hits apiece as both players recorded an RBI in the game. Jack Rye went hitless for just the second time this season ending his 20-game hitting streak, a career-best.
“It was definitely disappointing,” said Thomas on the team’s first loss of the season. “It was just one of those nights that we couldn’t get anything to fall our way. JU, they are a terrific club and made the plays tonight. Our team fought hard all the way throughout the game, but just couldn’t seem to get certain breaks to go our way.”
Florida State will resume conference play this weekend as they return home to face Boston College (6-8-1). Game one is set for Friday, March 23 at 6:00 pm at Dick Howser Stadium. Saturday’s game will be shown live on FSN Florida at 6:00 pm, while Sunday’s contest can be seen on Sun Sports at 1:00 pm. Fans can always follow all the action over the Internet. Gametracker will be available for the contest along with live radio broadcast courtesy of 1270 the TEAM.