May 3, 2005
Gainesville, FL – The 15th-ranked Florida State baseball team was looking for a big series win over a ranked opponent and they got it Tuesday night. The Seminoles took the rubber game in their series with No. 4 Florida 9-4 in Gainesville giving FSU its first series victory over a ranked opponent in 2005. Mark Sauls (5-1) picked up the win and Gainesville native Ryne Malone drove in the game winning run as FSU (38-14) secured its first win at McKethan Stadium since March 1, 2002. The win was the second in a row for FSU over the Gators (31-13) and the Seminoles have now won eight of the last 14 meetings.
“I think Florida has established themselves as a legitimate No. 1 seed and Florida State hasn’t,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin. “We are playing much better now but we are in a situation where we are fighting an uphill battle. There is an awful lot of baseball left for us to play but that ball club we faced tonight is as good as I have seen.”
“This was an excellent game tonight and it was a big confidence booster,” said Malone. “When you take two out of three from a top 10 team and a great ball club like Florida it is huge. We got it done tonight.”
Tyler Chambliss picked up his 12th save of the season and got out FSU out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the eighth inning. Malone led the team with three RBIs and Shane Robinson went 3-for-3 on the night. Danny Wardell hit his team-leading seventh home run of the season in the win.
“Danny gave us a big lift with that home run,” said Martin. “There was no question that picked our team up and I am very pleased with the way he is playing. That was one of many big moments in tonight’s game.”
Florida State got off to a good start versus UF starter Stephen Locke (5-1). Robinson drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on a ground out. Aaron Cheesman then came up with a big two-out RBI putting the Seminoles in front 1-0.
The Seminoles turned another walk into a run in the second. The walk was the second of the game for Locke who came into the night with just seven on the season in 44 innings. Brant Peacher drew a one out walk and then Jack Rye smoked a double down the right field line. He was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple but Peacher came home with the second run of the game for FSU. The double was the ninth of the year for Rye and his first since April 12 versus Jacksonville. That was the last game in which Peacher drew a walk as well.
The Gators got back into it in the bottom of the second inning. A single and a fielder’s choice were followed by a triple, the first allowed by FSU in 2005, cutting the lead to 2-1. Then a slow roller to third brought the run in making it a 2-2 game.
Peacher did the damage with his bat in the fourth inning. After Ryne Jernigan hit a two-out single, Peacher came up and sent a shot over the wall in left center making it a 4-2 game. It was the second home run of the year for Peacher. His last came March 26 at Duke.
Florida took advantage of walks to close the gap in the bottom of the fourth. Two walks sandwiched around a ground out put runners on the corners then a two-out base hit by Brian Jeroloman cut the lead to 4-3. The catcher was down 0-2 in the count before singling home the run.
Tommy Wynn relieved Locke in the top of the fifth. Locke went 5 2/3 in a win and allowed just one run in the first meeting between the teams but the Seminoles knocked him out of the game as the freshman walked a season high three batters. Robinson greeted Wynn by getting on base to start an inning for the third time with his second base hit of the game. After a strikeout, Robinson swiped his 38th base of the season before moving to third on a ground out. The Seminoles were unable to bring the sophomore home keeping it a 4-3 game.
A one out single in the sixth brought Matt DiBlasi into the game ending Sauls’ night. It was the longest outing for Sauls since an April 6 start versus Jacksonville and his third longest stint of the year.
For the fourth time in seven innings FSU put the lead-off runner on as Tony Thomas, Jr. opened the frame with a walk. The freshman then swiped second before a Robinson sacrifice moved him to third base. That brought UF’s third pitcher of the night into the game as Steven Porter relieved Wynn. The Gators brought the infield in to make a play at the plate and Ryne Malone sent a grounder to second but the throw home was too late to get Thomas extending FSU’s lead to 5-3.
Wardell gave FSU some more breathing room in the eighth. The first baseman blasted a solo shot off the top of the scoreboard in right field to make it a 6-3 game. It was the fourth homer for Wardell in the last six games.
The Gators mounted a comeback in the eighth with back-to-back one out singles. That brought Kevin Lynch into the game as he looked to put out another fire for FSU. Lynch got a big out when he picked Dickey off second.
“Miami did the same thing to us two weekends ago and Kevin looked right through him,” said Martin. “We went back and went over that. It was ironic the same situation came up and I am very proud of Kevin Lynch for taking responsibility and making that play.”
After the pickoff, a hard shot off the glove of Ryne Jernigan put runners on the corners with two down in the inning. Chambliss then entered the game trying to put an end to the Gator threat but Brian Leclerc singled through the left side to make it a 6-4 game. The next batter reached on a check swing single down to third base loading the bases. Chambliss came back and struck out Jeroloman to end the threat and keep FSU in front.
“That was another big point in the ball game, no question about it,” said Martin. “That strike out gave us a big lift.”
“That isn’t the first time I have come into a difficult situation,” said Chambliss. “I just told myself to make a good pitch and get an out. Florida has a great team and it feels really good to get a win like that. There were a lot of people who came through tonight and I was just happy I could do my part.”
Thomas led off the ninth by getting hit by a pitch. Robinson then followed with his third hit of the game putting runners on second and third. It was the 15th three-hit game of the season for Robinson and the 29th multi-hit game of the year for the All-American candidate. Malone then brought the runners home with his 17th double of the season raising his RBI total to 41 and the Seminole lead to 8-4. Of Malone’s last 22 hits, 16 have gone for extra bases. A wild pitch moved Malone to third and Gibbs Chapman brought him home on a bloop single into left field to end the scoring.
The Seminoles return to ACC action this weekend in Maryland. Friday and Saturday’s game are slated for a 7:00 p.m. starts and the series is scheduled to wrap-up Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Game Tracker will be available for all this year’s games along with Steve Melewski’s live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.