June 2, 2007
Tallahassee, Fla. – Florida State (48-12) will have to fight off elimination the rest of the tournament as Saturday night was not a good time for the Seminole bats to fall silent. Mississippi State (35-20) yielded just three hits to FSU, the fewest registered by the Seminole offense all season, as the Bulldogs shut out the Garnet and Gold 3-0 in a winner’s bracket game of the 2007 NCAA Tallahassee Regional. The Seminoles must now win two games on Sunday and then a winner-take-all game on Monday to advance to their first Super Regional since 2005.
FSU was shutout for the first time all season and for the time since March 31, 2006 when North Carolina blanked the Seminoles 4-0. It was also the first time FSU was shutout in postseason play since the 1992 College World Series when Cal State Fullerton topped the Seminoles 6-0 in an elimination game.
The Bulldogs’ Justin Pigott (6-6) was the story of the night as he stifled the Seminole batters all evening long. The junior southpaw allowed just three hits in seven plus innings. His night came to an end after he gave up a double to Brandon Reichert to leadoff the top of the eighth. He struck out three and walked one as he allowed three base runners to reach second all evening.
Aaron Weatherford was equally impressive as he pitched the final two innings to earn his fourth save of the season. The sophomore right hander struck out four of the seven batters that he faced and did not give up a hit to send the Bulldogs to the regional final on Sunday evening.
“I’m trying to remember when I had seen a game better pitched than I saw from (Justin) Pigott and (Aaron) Weatherford,” said head coach Mike Martin. “That was just beautiful baseball. They deserved a tremendous amount of credit. That was excellent pitching.”
Bryan Henry (14-2) threw eight solid innings for the Seminoles but suffered his second loss in as many games. The senior right hander allowed three runs on six hits as he walked two and struck out five.
“Well I tell you, Bryan (Henry) will tell you this, that I don’t know when he did it, put he pulled a groin and just to show what a fighter he is, going out there and pitching his heart out. This young man right here is a special person. He wasn’t going to come out of the ballgame,” stated Martin.
For the second straight night, Florida State fell behind early as Mississippi State scored a pair of runs in the top of the third to take a 2-0 lead. The Bulldogs began the inning with four consecutive hits including RBI singles by Brandon Turner and Edward Easley. With the second at-bat of the inning, centerfielder Jeffrey Rea recorded a double off the wall in right to become Mississippi State’s all-time leading hitter with 329 hits. After two runs crossed the plate with nobody out and runners on first and second, Henry registered two quick outs as he got Mitch Moreland to ground into a double play. After a walk to Brian LaNinfa, the Bulldogs attempted a double steal. Buster Posey threw on to Mark Hallberg at second to get LaNinfa before Turner was able to cross home plate to end the inning.
The Seminoles best scoring chance all evening came in the seventh as they placed runners on first and second with two outs and D’Vontrey Richardson at the plate. After falling behind quickly 0-2, Richardson worked the count full and fouled off three consecutive pitches before Pigott was able to get Richardson to groundout softly to first to close out the inning.
Henry settled down after giving up two runs in the third as he set down 12 straight Bulldog hitters. But in the top of the eighth, Russ Snead recorded the first extra base hit of his career smashing his first career home run off the scoreboard in left center to increase MSU’s lead to 3-0.
In the ninth, FSU got off to a good as Jack Rye drew a four pitch walk. But the free pass wouldn’t faze Weatherford as he struck out the next three batters to end the game.
“We know that we have our backs against the wall, but we’re not eliminated. Tomorrow we know we are playing a very good Stetson club, a very good Stetson club. We have to come out and be ready to go,” explained Martin.
Florida State will return to action on Sunday, June 3 for day three of competition at the 2007 NCAA Tallahassee Regional. The Seminoles will square-off against Stetson at 1:00 pm in an elimination game. FSU will throw right hander Ryan Strauss, while Stetson will counter with right hander Jake Hitchcock. Sunday’s game will be shown live on Sun Sports, while fans can also follow the action over the Internet. Gametracker will be available for the contest along with live radio broadcast courtesy of 1270 the TEAM.