TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State’s John Sansone finished 2-for-4 and was responsible for three RBI, but it was a five-run first inning that allowed Texas Tech to earn a split in the midweek series as the Red Raiders came away with an 8-4 victory on Wednesday evening. Sansone’s performance included his fourth homerun and ninth double of the campaign.
He was joined at the plate by Taylor Walls (2-3, RBI), who notched a homerun along with a game-high three runs, and Dylan Busby (2-4) with multiple hits.
Florida State (20-7) had six pitchers toe the rubber, including starter Cole Sands (3-3), who yielded five earned runs on five hits in the loss. The remaining five hurlers allowed a combined eight hits, three runs, two earned runs and eight strikeouts.
Texas Tech’s offense was led by the trio of Eric Gutierrez (1-3, 2 RBI, HR), Tyler Neslony (1-3, 2 RBI, HR) and Michael Davis (2-5, 2 RBI). That combination accounted for seven of the eight runs in the game as the Red Raiders tallied 12 hits.
Robert Duggar (2-0) grabbed the victory in 1.2 innings of relief after allowing two hits, one earned run and two walks. Hayden Howard (S, 3) finished the final four innings and surrendered three hits, one earned run, five walks and converted two strikeouts.
“That is one of those games that you can just chalk up to the other team getting it done,” said head coach Mike Martin. “They played very well, turned three double plays when they needed them and all you can do is tip your hat and move to the next game.”
Stephen Smith provided the spark for the Texas Tech offense when he led off the game with a double into left field. Two batters later, with runners on the corners, following a walk and a wild pitch, Tanner Gardner lifted a single to right field to score Smith for the first run of the game.
The solid first inning continued for Texas Tech as Gutierrez and Neslony were responsible for plating the next two runs with back-to-back sacrifice flies as the lead reached 3-0. Two batters later Davis brought home the final two runs of the four-hit inning with a double off the left field wall that scored Gutierrez and Orlando Garcia for the 5-0 advantage.
The Red Raiders added to their lead in the third inning when Neslony sent a solo home run over the right field wall, stretching the margin to 6-0.
Walls recorded the first hit for the Seminoles in the fourth inning with a single through the left side of the infield. Sansone built on the momentum by taking a 2-0 pitch over the left field wall making for a 6-2 affair. Consecutive singles into left field by Quincy Nieporte and Busby allowed the Seminoles to eventually load the bases, but Texas Tech ended the threat with a grounder to second.
Walls came through again in the fifth for Florida State when connected on his second homerun of the season and cut the lead to 6-3.
Texas Tech got the run back in the eighth, making for a 7-3 contest, when Davis sent a one-out double to left field. Davis rounded the bases when a fielder’s choice by Tyler Floyd was coupled with a Seminole throwing error.
The Red Raiders had their second long ball of the contest in the ninth when Gutierrez lifted his fifth homerun over the left field wall to push the lead to 8-3. Texas Tech threatened with Davis at second, however he was thrown out sliding into home by Darren Miller as he attempted to score on a single by Garcia.
Sansone added to his RBI total with a two-out double into right centerfield, scoring Walls for the 8-4 final.
Florida State now turns its attention to a weekend series with ACC Atlantic Division rival Louisville. The Cardinals enter the weekend with a 23-5 overall record and a 9-3 mark in league play. The Seminoles weekend rotation will remain intact with Mike Compton (Friday), Drew Carlton (Saturday) and Cole Sands (Sunday).
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One more win would bring another milestone. Florida State enters the NCAA tournament with 39 victories and can reach 40 wins for the 40th consecutive season this weekend.
It’s a mark that, as recently as the end of the last month, seemed to be on shaky ground.
But after 12-2 record during the month of May, the Seminoles are right back where history says they belong: Among the nation’s best and playing at home during the first weekend in June.
“I’ve thought that all along (that we could do this),” Martin said. “And our guys will tell you that. I think that what we have to do now is not fall in love with ourselves. We’ve got a very strong field coming in here. We’re looking at one game right now: Tennessee Tech.”