March 6, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Timely hitting and quality pitching were the correct formula on Saturday night as third-ranked Florida State (9-0) rolled to a 9-2 victory over No. 25 Georgia (6-5) in front of a packed crowed of 5,287 on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. Despite falling a run short of reaching double-digits for the ninth straight game, the Seminoles achieved the mark in the hit category posting 13 in game two extending the streak of double-digits hits to 14 straight games.
FSU did all its scoring in the second, third and fourth innings on Saturday night as eight of the nine runs came on two outs. Tyler Holt and Stephen Cardullo paced the offense with three hits a piece, while Stuart Tapley extended his hit streak to a career-best 14 games with an infield single in the fourth. Holt was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle in game two as he collected a double in the first, single in the third and triple in the fourth.
“Tonight was a great team win,” added Cardullo. “You have tip your cap to John Gast for pitching a great game. He came out did his job; the pitching was great, the hitting was great. Right now it’s all about having quality at-bats and sticking to our game plan.”
For the third straight outing, John Gast (3-0) was impressive on the mound in picking up win number three on the young season. On Saturday, the junior southpaw threw a career-high seven innings as he allowed just one run on seven hits. He finished the game with three walks and two strikeouts on 100 pitches.
“It was a solid ball game,” said head coach Mike Martin. “We got excellent pitching from Tyler Everett in relief of Johnny Gast. It was a good win for us. Had a key inning in which we took advantage of a couple of key hits. It was a ball game where I was just very pleased with how we approached it. I am very pleased with these young men and how they are playing right now.”
“We like to see everyone competing,” added Martin. “Right now Johnny has solidified himself and I am very proud of the way he continues to work on pitches that he knows he needs to have as we go through the season. He kept his poise all night long; just very proud of him.”
“You really have to tip your hat to our hitters they are doing a fantastic job of picking apart pitchers, especially starting pitching,” added Gast. “This is my third good start; I know there is a lot more room for improvement there. Cut those three walks out and I think I am where I need to be.”
Gast retired the Bulldogs in order in the first and second innings before handing it over to the Seminole offense.
Justin Gonzalez registered the game’s first run in the bottom of the second scoring on a wild pitch off Georgia starter Jeff Walters (0-1). Gonzalez led of the inning with a single through the left side and moved to second on a walk to Rafael Lopez. After a sacrifice bunt by Jayce Boyd advanced the runners a base, Gonzalez would come around to score on the wild pitch by Walters. Following a two-out walk to James Ramsey, Cardullo brought home Lopez on an RBI single to left. A walk to Mike McGee loaded the bases for Tapley, who drove in Ramsey as he too drew a walk from Walters, giving FSU a 3-0 lead.
The base-on-ball would end the evening for Walters who lasted just 1.2 innings giving up three runs on three hits as he walked six and struck out two.
Georgia cut into the lead plating a run in the third. Kevin Ruiz and Carson Schilling registered back-to-back hits off Gast to start the inning and advanced a base on Todd Hankins sacrifice bunt. Johnathan Taylor picked up an RBI infield single as he hit a chopper into the dirt toward first and used his speed to beat Boyd to the bag at first. With runners at first and third and only one out, Gast retired Taylor at first with his patent pick off move and then got out of the inning as Schilling tried to score on a pitch in the dirt. The ball squirted away from Lopez, who was quick to retrieve the ball, threw a strike to Gast at the plate in plenty of time to get Schilling for the third out of the inning.
The Seminoles answered the call with a run in the third to push their lead back to three. Gonzalez led off the inning with an infield single and scored two batters later on a two-out infield single off the bat of Holt.
Gast kept the momentum riding with the Noles retiring the Bulldogs in order in the fourth. After recording a ground out and a fly out, Brett DeLoach recorded an infield single to second, but was quickly eliminated on the base paths as Gast picked up his second pick off of the evening for the final out in the fourth.
FSU blew the door open in the fourth scoring five times to taking a commanding 9-1 lead. Gonzalez scored McGee on a bases loaded ground out to short, while Lopez drove in a pair lacing a single back up the middle for his first hit of the ball game. Following an infield single off the bat of Boyd put runners at first and second, Holt brought them both home on a triple to center.
Gast went out and kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard for the next three innings getting a pair of ground ball double plays to end the fifth and seven innings. He registered his third pick off of the game in the sixth eliminating Hankins who led off the inning with a single to right center.
“I probably didn’t have my best stuff tonight, kind of had to struggle through a few innings with runners on base, but was able to induce a couple of double plays,” said Gast.
The Bulldogs tagged Hunter Scantling for a run in the eighth as Colby May hit a one out double to the gap in right center plating pinch hitter Robert Shipman who drew a lead off walk. With runners at second and third, Martin went to the bullpen and brought on junior right hander Tyler Everett. Everett got out of the jam by posting a pair of strikeouts to maintain FSU’s lead at 9-2.
Everett pitched the ninth and closed out the game as he got Hankins to line into a game ending double play.
“He is a very important part of our pitching staff,” said Martin on Everett. “We have a lot of confidence in him and he has been in games a number of times. We are not the least bit hesitant to go out and get him.”
The Seminoles return to the diamond on Sunday, March 7 at 1:00 p.m. for the final game of a three-game set against Georgia on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Stadium. The game will air live on Sun Sports, while fans can listen in locally on 100.7 FM and on the web at 100.7 FM. Right hander Geoff Parker will take the mound for the Seminoles on Sunday in the series finale, while the Bulldogs will send out right hander Michael Palazzone.