June 4, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – A year to the date of the last Florida State complete game in an NCAA Regional, Seminole sophomore hurler Bryan Henry pitched the best game of his collegiate career as his complete game helped No. 10 Florida State to a 4-3 decision over Auburn on Saturday (June 4). The win put FSU one triumph away from winning the regional title and going to the school’s seventh straight NCAA Super Regional.
Florida State improved its record to 52-18 on the year in front of 6,398 fans at Dick Howser Stadium, the second largest crowd in school history. The Seminoles will play the winner of the Auburn-Army elimination contest at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The winner of that game will have to beat Florida State twice, once on Sunday night and then again on Monday night. The loss dropped the Tigers to 33-25 on the year.
“Bryan Henry did it all,” said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin. “He wanted the ball in the ninth and when you look up there and see seven out of eight innings where the other team had a zero it’s hard to take the ball away from him. That’s why he went back out and pitched the ninth. He is such a competitor. He wanted to be on the mound when that game was over.”
“Obviously we are disappointed in the loss but give a lot of credit to Florida State,” said Auburn Head Coach Tom Slater. “They’re a very quality team and I thought Bryan Henry was outstanding tonight. He did a great job of locating both sides of the plate and a good job of mixing in and out. He settled down after we put some runs up on him early. He’s very, very good. It’s easy to see why he’s a first team All-ACC pitcher this year.”
This season the Seminoles only had one complete game, a seven-inning outing by Hunter Jones against Hawai’i-Hilo on March 6. No Florida State hurler had gone more than eight innings since Eddie Canon threw a complete game against Bethune Cookman in opening game of last year’s Tallahassee Regional.
All that changed Saturday night as the right-hander Henry went the distance and improved his record to 9-2 on the year. He set a new career-high with ten strikeouts, including two in the ninth, while giving up just six hits and two walks on 126 pitches. Henry has now won eight straight decisions and recorded quality starts in every one of his last eight starts as well. Auburn starter Josh Sullivan was saddled with the loss as his mark dropped to 7-5.
“Tonight was unbelievable, I had chills throughout the whole eighth and ninth inning,” Henry said. “It was a blessing to be out there in front of my hometown fans. When you have a great crowd and great players behind you it makes it a lot easier.”
Henry only got better as the game progressed. Following a difficult second inning, in which Auburn scored all three of its runs, the Tallahassee native gave up just three hits with one walk and all ten strikeouts as no Auburn runner got past second base in the final seven innings. After the second Henry did not throw more than 20 pitches in a single inning.
“I think he’s gotten stronger,” said FSU senior captain and catcher Aaron Cheesman. “You know you don’t get into the seventh inning in eight straight starts and not get stronger as you go along. He’s such a competitor out there. He wants the ball. It makes it a lot easier for guys like me having to catch somebody out there that I know he just wants to get after it and it rubs off on the entire team. You can tell the whole team wants to make plays for him out there.”
Auburn first baseman Karl Amonite picked up the first hit of the game in the top of the second when he recorded his first triple of the season. The first baseman then came home on a sacrifice fly from designated hitter Russell Dixon making it a 1-0 game. Auburn added to its lead on Josh Donaldson’s sixth home run of the season off Henry. The three earned runs allowed in the inning equaled Henry’s career high for any game in 2005.
“After the second inning I just wanted to keep competing,” said Henry. “The guy that hit the home run hit a good pitch. It was a 0-2 up fastball and he just got it up and out of the yard. You just have to tip your cap sometimes. That’s baseball. They are supposed to hit your mistakes and that’s what they did. After that I just wanted to pound the strike zone and let my defense do the work.”
The Seminoles erased Auburn’s lead in the fourth. A lead-off walk, Sullivan’s career high sixth, put Brant Peacher on base. Ryne Jernigan then doubled down the left field line scoring Peacher all the way from first. Jernigan then came around himself thanks to a wild pitch and a passed ball as Sullivan continued to look for the first out of the inning. Ryne Malone completed the Seminole comeback when he singled home Tony Thomas, Jr. who had singled, stolen second and moved to third on a ground out. FSU’s fourth hit of the inning put runners on the corners as Jared Shore came in to relieve Sullivan who threw 107 pitches through 3 1/3 innings. Shore got an inning ending double play to close out the fourth.
Neither team scored the rest of the way despite several opportunities by the Seminoles. All nine starters reached base at least once with a Seminole making it to first in all eight innings.