April 14, 2006
Tallahassee, FL – One pitch was the difference Friday night in the opening game of the ACC series between No. 2 Florida State and No. 14 Miami. With the Seminoles leading 2-1 in the top of the fifth, a grand slam with two outs and two strikes was the difference as Danny Valencia hit his third homerun of the year in leading UM to a 7-3 victory. The loss snapped FSU’s school record 32-game home winning streak dating back to May 1, 2005. The Seminoles dropped to 32-5 and 12-4 in the ACC with the loss as a Dick Howser Stadium record 6696 fans were in attendance. The Hurricanes improved to 25-12 and kept pace with UNC for the top spot in the Coastal Division at 10-6. Miami continued its recent success versus Florida State as the Hurricanes have now won seven of the last nine meetings between the teams.
After taking an early 1-0 lead, FSU came back to get two runs in the bottom of the fourth to go in front. That’s when Valencia struck. After starter Bryan Henry (8-2) issued an intentional walk to Jon Jay to load the bases, he recorded the second out on a pop fly but his 3-2 offering to Valencia was sent off the scoreboard in left field putting UM back on top 5-3.
“It was a good job of hitting on his part,” said Henry of Valencia’s grand slam. “It was a full count, two outs. It’s the most exciting play in baseball. He turned a pitch around that was up in the zone. It is disappointing and frustrating. After my team came back to take the lead, I am just frustrated.”
Florida State loaded the bases with two outs in both the eighth and ninth innings but could not come through with the big hit. Four Hurricane pitchers limited Florida State to nine hits as Carlos Guiterrez (8-3) picked up the win. Dennis Guinn led the way in his first game back after mononucleosis going 3-for-5. Shane Robinson got a hit to up his hit streak to 24 games while Buster Posey and Ryan Strauss each had multi-hit nights.
“We kept fighting,” said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin. “Give Miami credit. They made pitches when they needed to. They got the job done. I will just say this about our club, I am very proud of the way they kept scrapping. We just came up short.”
Henry allowed five runs on the night, his most of the season but only one was earned as the grand slam came in an inning where an infield error extended the Canes time at the plate. He struck out four batters but for the first time in his career he walked more than one batter in three straight games as he issued three free passes, one was intentional.
“Bryan pitched his heart out,” said Martin. “It is just one of those things. You just have to give Miami credit.”
“I was just trying to let my defense work tonight,” said Henry of his outing. “They are a scrappy team. They did a good job of putting the ball in play. Once I started hitting my spots I got a few ground balls and some quick outs. They did a great job though.”
Henry got off to a little bit of a rocky start. In the top of the first a leadoff single and a walk put a couple of Canes on with just one away. A base hit brought the first run of the game home.
The Seminoles started the bottom of the fourth with their first hit of the game, a Jack Rye single to center. An infield chopper put two on for FSU and then a groundout moved both runners into scoring position. Tony Thomas, Jr. then tied the game on a sac fly plating Rye. Guinn then knocked in another run on a hit that got through the middle of the infield making the score 2-1. It was the 47th RBI of the season for the sophomore.
Miami looked to answer back as an error and a double put two on with one away in the fifth. An intentional walk to Jay loaded the bases and then a pop out got Henry his second out of the frame. The junior got one strike away from getting out of the jam before Valencia sent a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall for a grand slam.
“When I threw the pitch I figured it was so far up in the zone I thought he would take it,” said Henry. “I was mad at myself for walking in a run but he put it over the scoreboard. It was a game-changing moment for sure.”
After a 20 minute delay in the top of the seventh due to a question of player eligibility, new FSU pitcher Travis Burge gave up a single on his first pitch and then a bunt base hit to put two runners on. A double play got FSU its first two outs of the frame but moved the runner up to third. That brought Brian Chambers into the game and he fanned the final batter to end the top of the inning.
Robinson recorded a two-out hit in the seventh off reliever Danny Gil. The junior swiped second and then Rye was walked. Posey closed the gap as he came through with a two out RBI double off the fence in right cutting the UM lead to 5-3.
Miami answered back as the Canes put a runner back in scoring position in the eighth with an infield single and a sac bunt. A double off the screen in right field put UM back in front by three runs. Another base hit put runners on the corners with just one away. Miami plated their seventh run on a fielder’s choice where the runner at first had to hold up on a ball to right and then was forced out at second. Matt DiBlasi then picked off the runner at first to end the top of the eighth.
Florida State worked the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the frame with the top of the order coming to the plate as the Seminoles looked to try and stage a comeback. UM reliever Chris Perez shut the door on the rally though as a fly ball to center field ended the eighth.
A couple of walks surrounded a fly out to put two Seminoles on board in the bottom of the ninth. A Guinn single loaded the bases for the second straight inning versus Perez with two away but FSU once again could not cash in.
The FSU/Miami series resumes Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are sold out for Saturday’s game but there are still seats available for Sunday. Steve Melewski will bring fans the call live on 1270 WFLA AM in Tallahassee. Saturday’s game will be carried live on FSN Florida and Sunday’s finale will be shown live on SUN Sports. Every Seminole baseball game will be carried live on WFLA and on Seminoles.com where broadcasts are free of charge. Game Tracker will also be available for every FSU game in 2006.