May 26, 2006
Jacksonville, FL – The Florida State bats have come alive at the perfect time. A five-run sixth inning versus Carolina in an upset of the Tar Heels Friday has seemed to breath new life in to an FSU team that was just 11 outs away from elimination only 24 hours ago. The 18th-ranked Seminoles (41-18) continued to flex their offensive muscle at the 2006 ACC Baseball Championships Friday. The Seminoles recorded their first ACC Tournament shutout since 2003 and they scored 11-runs in a seven inning, run rule win over No. 6 Virginia (46-13).
“You always want to come out and hit the ball hard,” said DH Travis Anderson who homered and doubled in the game. “We just focused on (Virginia pitcher Mike Ballard) and let him have it. They are a great ball team. We are just happy we were able to have success against them today.
“We said before the game we wanted to come out and show everybody here we are Florida State. Previously we hadn’t been playing that well. We just came out with the mentality we are going to do this.”
Florida State used the big inning once again to send the team to a win at the ACC Tournament. After a five-run sixth propelled FSU past the Tar Heels in an elimination game Thursday, FSU did itself a couple better in the third inning versus the Hoos. The Seminoles batted around recording seven runs on seven hits. It was the most runs scored by FSU in an inning since they posted eight in a frame versus Miami April 15.
“It is obvious this is a ballgame that got away from us in the third inning,” said Virginia Head Coach Brian O’Connor. “It was another example of what we didn’t do yesterday and that was take outs when we had the opportunity to. Tony Thomas bunted in that inning and we didn’t collect an out and the inning got away from us. That was the ballgame, that third inning.”
“That was a big inning for us,” said Buster Posey who drove in a career high three runs for FSU. “People always say hitting is contagious. Travis Anderson did a great job leading us off, hitting the ball off the wall. Tony Thomas had the bunt. A walk here or there and a couple of hits all of a sudden there is a seven spot on the board.”
The other storyline of the day for FSU had to be Michael Hyde (8-1) who had his best outing of the year. The junior pitched the first complete game and shutout in his two years at Florida State. He scattered eight hits over seven innings, had three walks and four K’s. He threw 113 pitches.
“I know I had to come out and have a strong outing,” said Hyde. “We got into a hole early in the tournament and we definitely didn’t hold our heads down. We had to come out and still battle. I knew I had to be the guy. We had to have the win. I had to give our offense a chance to get the job done and luckily they did it.
“It is a lot easier pitching with the lead. I think everybody knows that. It helped me to take a deep breath and relax. It was a big weight off my shoulders. I just tried to pound the strike zone after that and let my defense work.”
The day did not start out looking so good for Hyde. The Cavaliers recorded three hits and stranded five runners in the first two innings. Four of the runners the Cavs left on base were in scoring position.
“Well there is no doubt (hitting) is contagious,” said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin about the key to the game. “Our guys got some pitches they could handle but the key to this ballgame today was Michael Hyde. He got out of the first two innings when they left five runners on base. I think that was the turning point of the game. It gave us a big lift.”
Hyde got into some hot water in the top of the first. After striking out the first batter of the day, he gave up a hit and a walk to put a couple runners on. A ground out on a hit and run moved both runners into scoring position but Hyde got the final out on a fly ball to left.
For the second straight inning Virginia put two runners in scoring position this time it was with just one out as the first two hitters singled and a sac bunt moved them up. Tony Thomas, Jr. came up with the play of the game next as a shot was lined back up the middle. The ball deflected off Hyde’s glove and changed direction but Thomas made a diving stab to grab the ball for the second out saving at least one run. Hyde plunked the next batter to load the bases but he got a pop fly to end the threat as Virginia stranded the bases loaded.
“That was huge,” said Hyde of Thomas’ play. “That ball came off the bat and I thought it was hit a lot harder than it was. I kind of just threw my glove and it shocked me a little bit. It hit off the tip of my glove. I thought for sure it was going to hit the ground. Tony came out of nowhere and made that play. I just thought that was going to be a little bleeder that got through. When he made that play it was huge. It was a big lift for me and the team.”
“I saw the ball come off his bat and I wasn’t going to let it fall because I knew that would have been a big inning for them,” said Thomas. “It was one out with runners on second and third. That would have scored two runs. That right there took us out of a big jam. I just tried to keep my eyes on the ball and make the catch.”
Anderson got the first hit of the game for FSU in the third when he doubled off the wall in right. A Thomas bunt base hit put runners on the corners then Danny Diaz drove them both home with a double to deep center field. A Shane Robinson single put runners on the corners as the Seminoles looked to boost their lead versus UVA starter Mike Ballard (8-3). A walk to Jack Rye loaded the bases and then Posey came through as he singled into left field plating two more runs putting the Florida State lead at 4-0. Ryne Malone then really gave the FSU fans at the Baseball Grounds something to cheer about as he went yard. The three-run shot made it a 7-0 game.
“Well when we got a four-run lead with first and second, no one out you are thinking let’s get another one,” said Martin. “We had a weak fly ball. So (Ryne) Malone comes to the plate with an opportunity to really deliver a hit and it was a big lift for us.”
In the fourth inning FSU got back on the board. Rye ripped a double off the wall in right and then Posey knocked him home as he drove in his third RBI of the day, tying a career high.
The long ball came into play again for FSU in the fifth. Anderson launched a ball over the wall in left plating two more Seminole runs. Robinson drove in another run one a single ripped down the right field line.
“I was looking for something inside and he gave it to me,” said Anderson of the pitch he hit out. “It is always nice to be looking for what he throws.”
Florida State continues play at the 2006 ACC Tournament Saturday in the ACC semifinals. The Seminoles will play an elimination game at 10:00 a.m. versus NC State. It will be the fourth time the teams have met in the last 10 days.
“We are excited about playing,” said Martin. “NC State is an outstanding club and we played them just this past week at home. They have one of the strongest offensive clubs in the league. They just pounded us on Saturday at home. We know we are going to have to score some runs. I wish we would have some of these 11 for tomorrow.”
“We have a lot of confidence right now,” said Posey. “I think we are starting to swing the bat a lot better. Pitchers are doing a great job as they have all year. We just want to keep playing baseball.”
Tomorrow’s first game between the Seminoles and Wolfpack will be shown live on CSS, it will be available over the internet via a live radio broadcast and Game Tracker will also be available for the game. If a second game is necessary, it will be played at 4:00 p.m. and broadcast live on the ACC webcast. Tickets for the ACC tournament can be purchased on line at www.sunsbaseball.com or by calling (904) 358-2846.