March 4, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – An eighth inning home run by North Florida’s Steve Hillian was the difference Wednesday night as the Ospreys (4-6) handed sixth-ranked Florida State (6-3) its third straight loss of the season downing the Seminoles 5-4 on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. It marked the first victory for UNF over FSU as the Seminoles entered the mid-week game undefeated in the series in four previous games.
It hasn’t happened often but Wednesday night was one of those rare occasions. For just the fifth time since 2005, Florida State suffered three or more losses in a row. The last time such a feat occurred came at Clemson, May 12-14, 2006. The last time FSU suffered three consecutive losses to a non-conference opponent came at the hands of Hawaii, March 12-14, 2005.
“You really have to tip your cap to the University of North Florida,” said head coach Mike Martin. “They deserved to win. There is really nothing you can say. There are no excuses. We threw three freshmen that did a pretty darn good job. Five hits, five runs, I would say they made the most of their hits. It was very disappointing but at the same time you have to throw that one away, take tomorrow off and get ready Friday night against a very tough Boston College team.”
Despite giving up just five hits on the evening, the Seminoles struggled defensively committing a season-high four errors.
Florida State trailed by as many as three-runs before staging a comeback to tie the game at four in the bottom of the seventh. In the eighth, the Ospreys regained the lead on the solo shot to left by Hillian. The home run was his first collegiate hit as the freshman got his first start of the season Wednesday night.
The Seminoles wasted very little time getting on the scoreboard plating a run in the bottom of the first to take an early 1-0 lead. Jason Stidham looped a single to right center just in front of the diving gloves of center fielder Michael Smith and right fielder Robbie Collier to score Tyler Holt from second. Holt led off the bottom of the first with one of his two hits on the evening lacing a single to right center.
UNF came right back with a run in the second to tie the game at 1-1. The Ospreys played a little small ball to generate their first run of the game taking advantage of back-to-back walks by FSU starter Austin Wood. After a sacrifice bunt by Hillian advanced the runners to second and third, Collier brought home David Eldredge on an RBI groundout to second.
The Ospreys added three more runs in the top of the third but not before chasing Wood from the game after facing just three batters in the inning. An RBI double off the bat of UNF third baseman Andrew Karmeris closed the book on Wood, who was making his first career start. The freshman right hander finished the game working two plus innings allowing four runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out one.
Rafael Lopez brought the Seminoles within one of the UNF lead in the fourth with a two-out, two-run double off the fence in right field scoring Mike Meschke and Ohmed Danesh. The Ospreys went to the bullpen to start the fourth after starter Tucker Pryor worked three innings allowing just one run on three hits. After registering a strikeout to the first batter that he faced, Osprey reliever Antonio Franzese gave up back-to-back singles to Meschke and Danesh as both Seminole runners would come around to score on the third double of the season by Lopez.
The Seminoles tied the game at four in the seventh on an RBI single to right by Stuart Tapley. Holt scored on the play as he led off the inning reaching on a fielding error by Karmeris at third.
Freshman Brian Busch (0-1) worked a career-high 5.2 innings in relief of Wood as the young right hander made his fifth appearance of the season. Busch gave up just one run but it ended up being the game-winner off the bat of Hillian. The West Boca Raton, Fla., native also finished with career-highs in walks (4) and strikeouts (5).
Redshirt freshman Mark Peterson pitched the final 1.1 innings for the Seminoles in his second appearance of the season. The southpaw was once again impressive as he faced just four batters striking out two.
The Seminoles made one final attempt to rally from behind in the bottom of the ninth putting runners on first and second with two outs, but UNF’s Ty Pryor got Meschke swinging on strikes for the final out of the game. Pryor moved to 2-1 on the season as he shut down Florida State over the final 2.1 innings. He finished the game with four strikeouts.
“We looked for that big hit,” added Martin. “Had our chance in the ninth to do something but we just weren’t able to get it done.”
Four Osprey pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts, while the Seminoles left 11 men on base.
Holt and Stidham led the offensive on Wednesday night with two hits a piece.
Florida State remains at home this weekend as the Seminoles welcome Boston College to Tallahassee in the conference opener for both teams. First pitch for both Friday and Saturday are set for 6:00 p.m., with Sunday’s series finale beginning at 1:00 p.m. Fans can listen to all the live action over the weekend on 100.7 FM, while live video streaming will be available on ACC Select for the first two games. Live stats for all three games will also be available via gametracker on www.seminoles.com.