March 31, 2006
Chapel Hill, NC – North Carolina ace Andrew Miller is predicted by many to be the top pick in this year’s Major League Baseball draft and Friday night versus the top-ranked Seminoles he showed why. The left-handed junior was exceptional as he led UNC (22-5, 6-4) to its first ever shutout of FSU in 72 meetings dating back 50 years 4-0. Florida State (26-3, 8-2) could muster just four hits in seven innings versus Miller as he ended UNC’s five-game losing streak to the Seminoles. Bryan Henry suffered his first defeat of the season and the first by a Seminole starter in 2006.
“It was a very good college baseball game,” said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin. “It was a packed house and Andrew Miller was certainly the difference in the game. He pitched extremely well. I don’t think we hit but one ball to the outfield. You just have to take your hat off to him and move on to tomorrow.
“We definitely now have our backs against the wall. It is going to be a real challenge now to win this series.”
Henry lost for the first time since the 2005 Super Regionals in Gainesville as his record dropped to 7-1 on the season. The Seminole ace went seven innings and struck out eight batters. He issued three walks and threw 131 pitches. The four earned runs were the most allowed by the junior since he defeated Maryland March 10. The three walks were his most since he issued four on opening day versus Charleston Southern.
“I was just as impressed with Bryan Henry tonight as I was when he pitched eight innings of no-hit ball against Duke,” said Martin. “He fought when he fell behind 4-0. He went out there and held them scoreless for three innings. He just did an outstanding job of keeping us from having to use people in the bullpen. I thought he showed a lot of competitiveness and heart and that is what we had to have.”
After falling behind by four runs for the first time this season, the Seminoles had one big opportunity to get back in the game in the eighth as they loaded the bases off reliever Jonathan Hovis but the magic they had in Tallahassee last year was not there Friday night as Hovis shutdown the rally and preserved the shutout.
A base hit, an error and a stolen base put a Carolina runner on third in the bottom of the first but a great play by Mark Gildea laying out for a dipping liner in left ended the threat.
The Heels pitched carefully to Ryne Malone in his first at bat of the game as Miller (6-0) walked the junior on five pitches. A Buster Posey ground out moved Malone into scoring position and then a slow roller to first put Malone at third with two away. FSU was unable to cash in though.
FSU’s first base hit of the game came in the third on a bunt hit by Gildea. Danny Diaz sacrificed the runner to second but that was as far as he would get as Miller fanned the next two batters.
Henry issued his second walk of the game in the third, just the first time he has walked multiple batters since February 24. Chad Flack followed with a one-out single putting runners on first and second. A bloop single down the left field line on a 3-2 pitch plated the first run of the game for UNC. Henry hit the next batter to load the bases then a double down the right field line put UNC in front 3-0. Henry recorded the second out on a short fly ball to center and then ended the third on a smash off his leg that he gathered and fired to first in time to get the runner.
Henry got the first two outs of the fourth before Reid Fronk took him over the wall in right field. It was the first homer Henry has allowed in 2006 and it upped the Tar Heel lead to 4-0.
North Carolina recorded back-to-back hits to open the bottom of the fifth putting runners on the corners. A bunt down the third base line looked like it was going to load the bases but Josh Horton got caught off the bag at third and was put out for the first out of the inning. The odd play was key for the Seminoles as the next batter grounded into a double play to end the threat as Posey started the twin killing.
The Seminoles attempted to stage a two-out rally in the seventh. Two infield singles by Tony Thomas, Jr. and Ryan Strauss put a couple runners on but once again they could not break through versus Miller.
In the bottom of the seventh North Carolina tried to add on to its lead as a single and double put runners on second and third. An intentional walk to Jay Cox loaded the bases with two away but Henry ended the inning with his eighth K of the night.
Miller left the game in the eighth and the Seminoles went to work against UNC’s top reliever Jonathan Hovis. Pinch hitter Tommy Oravetz was hit by a pitch and Shane Robinson extended his hit streak to 16 games as he doubled into the gap in right putting two runners in scoring position with nobody out. A walk to Jack Rye loaded the bases before Hovis recorded the first out on a pop up to second and then struck out Tar Heel killer Malone for out number two. Hovis ended the inning as he caught Posey looking at strike three for the 11th K of the game by a Heel pitcher, the most strikeouts by FSU this season.
Florida State had one last chance to break up the shutout bid as a lead-off walk to Thomas and a bloop single to right by Strauss put two runners on with nobody out versus Andrew Carigan, the third UNC pitcher of the night. The Heels got their first out on the 12th K of the night and then racked up strikeout number 13 leaving FSU with just one more out but once again FSU was unable to plate the run.
The top-ranked Seminoles continue their showdown with No. 6 North Carolina Saturday at 1:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on FSN. Game Tracker will be available for every game this season along with live radio broadcasts available on WFLA locally and free on the Internet at seminoles.com.