March 24, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Extending one streak and ending a couple others, the fifth-ranked Florida State baseball found itself on the wrong end of another mentally grueling game Wednesday night at Dick Howser Stadium.
Stetson mounted a successful late-inning rally to forge a tie and scored two in the top of the 11th to secure a 6-4 victory.
It was the fifth-ranked Seminoles fifth consecutive extra-inning game – by all documentable accounts a school record – and the sixth time in a row they were involved in a game that went to the wire.
Ranked No. 28 in this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll, the Hatters (18-4) snapped a pair of 13-game streaks against the Seminoles. FSU came into the game with 13 consecutive home victories – the nation’s longest – and a 13-game game winning streak against Stetson dating to 1988.
“We just have to continue to work,” said FSU coach Mike Martin. “If that wasn’t a good club, if they were going through the motions, then I could start raving. We play our guts out and get beat. What do you do? Yell at somebody for popping up? It is just the nature of the game.”
The game hasn’t been particularly kind to the Seminoles during an eight-game stretch that has seen opponents come from behind in either the eighth or ninth innings five times and prevail on four occasions.
Stetson slugger Ben Carhart’s two-run homer in the top of the ninth off closer Mike McGee gave the visitors a 4-3 lead. The Seminoles tied the game on a pair of ninth-inning singles by Parker Brunelle and Rafael Lopez, a stolen base. An errant throw by Stetson catcher Nick Rickles on Lopez’s steal attempt allowed pinch-runner Tye Buckley to score the tying run.
The Hatters prevailed in the 11th when Mark Jones drew a one-out walk from reliever Gary Merians and Ryan Lashley doubled him home with two outs.
While Stetson managed to produce in the key late-game situations, the Seminoles struggled to push runners across, stranding a season-high 16 baserunners. Three times FSU left the bases loaded.
“Every team is going to go through a little patch like we have,” said Lopez, who went 3-for-6. “I don’t know about extra innings, but tough games. I think it’s going to make the whole team tougher for the rest of the season. If we can handle this, we can handle probably anything.”
Florida State redshirt freshman David Trexler, making his first career start, scattered five hits over 3.1 innings as Stetson built a 2-0 lead. The Hatters parlayed leadoff doubles by Lashley and Robert Crews to single runs in the third and fourth innings.
The Seminoles halved the deficit in the fourth when Jayce Boyd collected his second single of the night and followed with his second stolen base of the game. Justin Gonzalez’s two-out RBI single pulled FSU within 2-1.
It took the `Noles one swing in the fourth to even the score. James Ramsey deposited Stetson starter Will Dorsey’s 1-0 offering over the screen in right-center for his third home run of the season, forging a 2-2 deadlock.
Hunter Scantling relieved Trexler in the fourth and helped hold the Hatters at bay, thanks in part to a defense which turned a season-high four double plays. The big right-hander turned in 4.2 innings of two-hit, shutout work
“After the weekend at Virginia, you try to forget about stuff like that, but obviously it’s going to be stuck in your head (for) letting the team down,” said Scantling, who was unable to hold a ninth inning lead in Saturday’s loss. “Getting the chance to come out here today and do what I did, trying to keep the team in the ballgame, I felt comfortable out there. I was excited to get the ball. I wanted the ball and I just worked from there.”
Martin was appreciative of the effort, calling Scantling’s work a “definite bright spot” on the night.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to hold up for the win, even after Ramsey (3-for-4, 2 RBI) gave the `Noles a 3-2 lead with his eighth inning RBI single to right.
“Everybody’s feeling it now,” Scantling said of the string of extra inning games. “We’re ready to get a nine inning ballgame. I think it’s great for the team, obviously not to keep playing games like this, but to learn from them. Down the road we’re going to be all right. This is going to teach us a lesson and when we come to a game like this from here on out, I feel like we’re going to have an advantage over any other team.”
On Tuesday night, the final advantage belonged to the Hatters, who extended their winning streak to six games.
“You can see why they are 18-4,” Martin said. “They swept Georgia, played a very tough game last night, got up at I don’t know what time, because they left at about 7:30 (a.m.) … to come up here. They deserved to win the ball game. They deserved to win.”
The Seminoles will try and put an end to their extra-inning game binge Friday at 6 p.m. when they host Wake Forest in the opener of a three-game ACC weekend series.