May 3, 2006
Tallahassee, FL – Jacksonville University is in the midst of a great year. The Dolphins are 33-14 and comfortably leading the Atlantic Sun with just three weeks left in the regular season but when it comes to playing FSU they just can’t seem to get a win. For the fourth time in 2006 the Seminoles and Dolphins faced off and for the fourth time FSU (36-11) got the victory. It was the 17th straight win for FSU in the series and the 21st consecutive time FSU has defeated the Dolphins in Tallahassee. With Mark Sauls (1-0) leading the way in his first start of the season, FSU completed the four-game sweep with a 9-2 victory Wednesday night as the Seminoles outscored JU 27-6 in the four meetings.
“By George we are going to enjoy this,” said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin. “That was FSU baseball tonight. We played a solid baseball game. We got exceptional play from everybody out there.”
Despite racking up 12 hits, scoring nine runs and striking out just three times, Sauls was the story of the night for the Seminoles. The senior, who has started 41 games in his first three seasons, had pitched just five innings coming into Wednesday night. He made four relief appearances before getting the starting nod versus Jacksonville. It was the latest the senior had ever made a first start in his four seasons and he picked up the 18th win of his career.
“It is great to be back out there,” said Sauls. “It was hard sitting in the dugout wanting to be out there. Things worked out for me today.
“I am just not used to not playing. I just cheered on my teammates and would throw pens not knowing when I would get in and not knowing what was going to happen. The coaches gave me another chance and I did what I was supposed to do. I am happy.”
The Panama City, FL native, who started for FSU in the Super Regionals versus Florida last year, battled tendonitis at the start of the season. After watching Bryan Henry, Tyler Chambliss, Barret Browning and Michael Hyde go undefeated as starters over the first two months of the season, Sauls’ only opportunities came out of the pen until Wednesday when he limited Jacksonville to one hit over five innings.
“I am proud of that young man,” said Martin of Sauls’ effort. “He is a guy that has positioned himself to be the Sunday starter. Why not? How can I say he hasn’t positioned himself (for that). He shut down Jacksonville. He gave them one run over five innings. That is a good Jacksonville team. Let’s take our hats off to him and see what he can do from here out. I was very impressed with the way Mark Sauls pitched.”
As smoothly as the game went for Sauls, things didn’t get off to a perfect start for the right-hander. After Sauls retired the first batter of the game, Pete Clifford tripled to dead center putting a JU runner in scoring position in the top of the first. The senior fanned the next two batters though to finish off the Dolphin threat.
In the bottom of the second Ryne Malone, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, led off with a single and then swiped second. Malone moved up to third on a ground out. A balk by Jacksonville starter Matt Davis (4-21) brought in the first run of the game. Tony Thomas, Jr. then drew a two-out walk and moved to third with a stolen base and a throwing error. Ryan Strauss brought him home on a single through the left side.
In the top of the third a walk and two grounders moved JU’s Brad Simmons to third and then a passed ball brought the run home making it a 2-1 game.
A Danny Diaz single and an error put two Seminoles on with nobody out in the third. Another error on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases up for FSU. The Dolphins got the first out on a force at home plate and then got the second out in the same fashion. Then a ground out ended the threat.
A hit by pitch and a walk put a couple Seminoles on with nobody out in the fifth. Mark Gildea then sacrificed both runners into scoring position. A walk to Guinn loaded the bases for the second time. This time Malone cashed in with a two-run base hit extending the Florida State lead to 4-1. A Posey grounder brought in the fifth run and then Ryan McArdle singled home the sixth run for the Seminoles.
FSU added to the lead in the sixth when Diaz plated the seventh Seminole run on a sacrifice bunt. Shane Robinson then went yard for the fourth time this year making it an 8-1 game. Two pitches later the Seminoles were on the board again as Mark Gildea followed Robinson’s homer with one of his own making it 9-1.
Mike McAllister’s ninth homer of the year got JU back on the board for the first time since the third inning but that was as close as JU would get.
Florida State continues conference play versus Wake Forest this weekend in Winston-Salem. Game times are 3:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. Sunday’s series finale is scheduled to be shown on SUN Sports. Game Tracker will be available for every game this season along with a live radio broadcasts available on WFLA locally and free on the Internet at seminoles.com.