June 1, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State Seminoles advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Division I Baseball Tallahassee Regional with a 7-3 win over UCF in Game 4, Saturday afternoon at Dick Howser Stadium. FSU, now 58-12, will play the winner of Saturday evening’s match up between the Golden Knights (41-21) and South Florida (34-28) at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
FSU starter Blair Varnes got himself into a bit of a jam in the top of the first inning as the Golden Knights came out swinging. Leadoff hitter David Mann reached base on an error at third and Mike Myers and Dee Brown followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases with no outs. After a visit to the mound by FSU skipper Mike Martin, Varnes induced a double play as Clay Timpner grounded into a double play to the shortstop. Timpner recorded the RBI as Mann scored on the play and Varnes got out of the inning with just the one unearned run as Ty Hanson lined out to first base.
After going down in order in the first inning, the Seminoles responded in the second. Blair McCaleb singled to second base and advanced to second on a throwing error. After advancing to third on a ground out by Jerrod Brown, McCaleb tied the game on a two-out single to right by Nick Rogers. Richie Smith drew a walk, but the runners were stranded.
UCF regained the lead in the top of the third. With one out, Mann doubled down the left field line and advanced to third on a single by Myers. Myers stole second and Mann scored on a throwing error by Seminole catcher Tony Richie. The final two batters grounded out to retire the side.
The Seminoles also scored on an error and tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning. McCaleb walked to open the inning. With one out, Richie singled down the middle and the runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. After Rogers went down looking, Richie Smith drew a walk to load the bases for Bryan Zech. With the count 1-2 to Zech, UCF catcher Jeremy Frost tried to pick off Smith at first and the ball got away from first baseman Rich Wallace, which allowed McCaleb to score.
The Seminoles took the lead for good in the sixth, scoring two runs off three hits. With two away, Richie hit a single to left center. Rogers, who drove in the run to tie the game in the fourth inning, was again the hero. He doubled down the left field line, scoring Richie, went to third on the play on an error by the left fielder and then scored on a single by Smith.
UCF picked up a run in the seventh to cut the FSU lead to one. With one out, Ryan Bear hit the ball sharply at Varnes for a single. Mann singled to right field and then FSU made a pitching change. Enter Kevin Lynch. On his first pitch, Lynch hit Myers to load the bases for Brown. After throwing three straight balls, Lynch struck out Brown on three straight strikes. FSU replaced Lynch with lefty Daniel Davidson. He, too, hit his first batter, scoring Bear. He also struck out his second batter, preserving the FSU lead.
The Seminoles gave themselves a bit of a cushion, increasing their lead to four runs with a three-run seventh. Leadoff hitter Stephen Drew started things off with a base hit and McQuade followed with a double to deep right field. McQuade went out on a fielder’s choice by Ryan Barthelemy. With runners on the corners and one out, McCaleb drove in Drew with a single to right. UCF pitcher Von David Stertzback proceeded to walk three of the next four batters he faced, scoring two more FSU runs. Reliever Zach Sutton retired the side as Zech grounded out.
The Golden Knights threatened in the eighth, with two on and no out, but the FSU defense turned a double play and reliever Daniel Hodges struck out Jason Graham to end the inning.
Varnes went six and one-third innings with two strikeouts and improved to 9-3 with the victory. Hodges earned his 12th save of the season. UCF starter Mark Michael recorded the loss and went to 7-4 on the year.