Jan. 28, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – A lot has been made about the youth of the 2005 Seminole baseball team but on opening day it was the veterans who made all the difference for Florida State. Senior catcher Aaron Cheesman drove in both FSU runs and junior Mark Sauls and senior Kevin Lynch allowed just one hit over eight innings while sophomore Tyler Chambliss pitched a perfect ninth as FSU opened the home portion of its schedule with a win for the 24th consecutive season. Florida State (1-0) scored two runs in the first three innings and then turned the game over to the pitching staff who allowed just one hit as the Seminoles held off Charleston Southern (0-1) 2-1.
On the night, FSU allowed just six base runners and had a no-hitter going until the eighth inning before CSU’s Billy Dalton broke up the no-no bid with a double down the right field line. Sauls, who started opening day for the first time in his career, went 4.2 innings without allowing a hit before giving way to Lynch (1-0) who came in and picked up the win going 3.1 innings without allowing a run or a walk. Chambliss (1) finished the game off picking up the second save of his career.
“Opening day is just so special,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin. “I wish the weather was a little warmer but I was very impressed with the way our guys approached the game. They really got after it. Charleston Southern is a team with a lot of veterans and they proved tonight they are a very good baseball team.
“We played very well defensively tonight. We got excellent pitching from Kevin Lynch and Tyler Chambliss. We didn’t get the start we hoped from Mark Sauls although he pitched when he needed to. We have a tremendous amount of confidence in him and he will have the ball again next week. The young man is a winner and even though he didn’t have his best stuff he stayed out there and kept battling.”
Cheesman, who came into Friday night without a hit or RBI in his three previous season openers, was the offensive star for the Garnet and Gold. The Sarasota, FL native reached base in three of his four at bats going 1-for-2 with two walks and two RBIs. Sophomore Shane Robinson also collected two hits as the Seminole leadoff hitter went 2-for-4 on the night. Newcomers Nick Francis and Bryan Henry both recorded hits in their first game as Seminoles with Henry recording FSU’s lone extra base hit of the game, a double to the gap in right.
“There is no question that Cheesman is the leader of this club and he did a great job behind the plate tonight,” said Martin. “The two runs he drove in, you have to credit those guys that got on base. Shane Robinson and Nick Francis did what they needed to do to set themselves up in scoring position. Shane’s steal of third base was huge for us in the first inning.”
The Tribe got off to a good start early on opening day. After Sauls went 1-2-3 in the top of the first, leadoff hitter Robinson started the season off by singling through the left side. He advanced on a ground out and then swiped third before Cheesman drove him home on a ground out to short staking the Garnet and Gold to an early 1-0 lead.
Florida State added to the lead in the third. Freshman shortstop Francis led off the inning with a hard hit single to third giving FSU a leadoff base runner for the second time in three frames. Francis moved into scoring position on a ground out. After Charleston Southern starter Brad Bissell (0-1) recorded his third K of the game, Cheesman came through once again. The senior laced a shot into right field plating Francis from second. It was the second RBI of the game for the team captain.
“It was a change-up and I could definitely tell they were trying to pitch around me to get to (Ryne) Malone to get left-on-left,” said Cheesman. “He just made a mistake. He left the change right down the middle of the plate. I just stayed back on it and drove the ball into right field.”
The Buccaneers cut the Seminoles lead in half in the top of the fourth without even recording their first hit of the game. An error and a wild pitch allowed Graham Maiden to come around and score the first CSU run of the day despite the fact Sauls still had a no-hitter in tact at that point. When the junior fell behind third baseman Brad Woods 3-0, Martin signaled for Lynch who came in to record the final out of the inning on the first of his five K’s ending the CSU threat.
“I came out there with no pressure you know, a 3-0 count,” said Lynch. “I just relaxed and tried to get ground balls just like Mark (Sauls) did today. I wanted to keep the ball on the ground and let the people behind me do their job.”
“Kevin throws a lot of strikes,” said Cheesman. “You put him in 3-0 and it really doesn’t matter. You know Kevin can come in and get the guy out. He is an unbelievable competitor and he’s got to be one of the best relief pitchers in the nation.”
In the top of the eighth CSU leadoff hitter Dalton broke up FSU’s no hit bid when he doubled down the right field line and past a diving Ryne Malone. Dalton ended up on third but Lynch continued to keep the Bucs at bay and ended the threat.
“When I am out there pitching I am not thinking about a no-hitter,” said Lynch. “All I am thinking about is where I am throwing the baseball. It was a good pitch but the kid did a great job of poking it down the right field line. I tip my cap to him and go on to the next hitter.”
The Seminoles will go after win No. 2 on the season Saturday, January 29 at 2:00 p.m. The Garnet and Gold is expected to throw Tallahassee, FL native Michael Hyde. It will be the first start for the sophomore as a Seminole after spending his first season at Tallahassee Community College. Game Tracker will be available for the contest along with a live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.