June 12, 1999
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Slugger Matt Diaz found his groove at the plate and
reliever Chris Chavez kept his cool on the mound.
Diaz hit two home runs and Chavez put down a bases-loaded, no-outs threat in
the fifth, leading Florida State to a 7-3 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday in
the College World Series opener for both teams.
Diaz went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and scored twice with the wind blowing
out. He made fans forget about Marshall McDougall, who last month hit six home
runs in a victory at Maryland.
“I was happy to see the wind blowing out in right field,” Diaz said. “I
was thankful because I could really groove my swing.”
Diaz said he felt overshadowed by McDougall but had no problem with it. Diaz
said he has seen better pitches by batting third in the order, behind McDougall
and ahead of .321 hitter Kevin Cash.
“Marshall McDougall hasn’t had just one good game. He’s had a heck of a
year,” Diaz said. “Then we had John Halliday behind me earlier in the year
and now Kevin Cash. People are scared of them, so I’ve been seeing pitches all
Diaz’s two homers gave him 20 for the season.
Chavez, meanwhile, retired 12 straight Aggies and struck out six for the
second-seeded Seminoles (54-12) after replacing starter Nick Stocks with the
bases loaded and no outs in the fifth and Florida State ahead 4-3.
“It was a big momentum shift to get three outs with the bases loaded and no
outs,” Chavez said. “It took the wind out of their sails.”
Chavez proceeded to strike out the side on 14 pitches, 11 of them strikes.
“You load the bases with nobody out and you’re feeling pretty good about
yourself,” Texas A&M coach Mark Johnson said. “So that was pretty
discouraging, but I don’t think it dropped us to our knees where we weren’t
going to get back up. But it was pretty discouraging.”
The victory advanced Florida State to meet the winner of Saturday night’s
game between Cal State-Fullerton and Stanford. The seventh-seeded Aggies
(52-17) will play the loser in an elimination contest.
Stocks, taken in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 36th
pick in last week’s amateur draft, pitched into the fifth, allowing all three
A&M runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and three walks.
Stocks walked the first three Aggies he faced in the fifth on 14 pitches.
“We cannot win the national championship with our starter going four
innings,” Florida State coach Mike Martin said. “We have got to get him into
Aggies left-hander Casey Fossom, a first-round pick by the Boston Red Sox,
pitched 7 1-3 innings. He gave up seven runs on seven hits with four
strikeouts, but walked a career-high eight and hit one.
“I was maybe trying to get a little too fine,” Fossom said. “Then I left
a few pitches out over the plate.”
After Ryan Barthelemy sent an 0-2 fastball over the wall in right-center to
give the Seminoles a 2-1 lead in the second, Fossom hit Michael Futrell before
Diaz extended the lead to 4-1 with a two-run shot to right-center.
Leading off the fifth, Diaz homered to the same spot.
“I didn’t really have a game plan,” Fossom said. “I just threw it to him
(Diaz) and hoped he wouldn’t hit it.”
Last year entering the College World Series, it was Diaz who attracted much
of the attention for Florida State. As a freshman in 1998, he hit four home
runs in an NCAA regional defeat of Oklahoma.
By TIM KORTE
AP Sports Writer