Jan. 30, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – For the 11th consecutive year the Florida State baseball team opened the season with a series sweep. The Seminoles pounded out 13 hits in an 11-4 win over Charleston Southern (0-3) Sunday bolstering the squad’s record to 3-0. Florida State’s 1-2-3 hitters combined to go 8-for-14 with five runs scored and eight RBIs while Kevin Lynch picked up his second win of the season and Tyler Chambliss recorded his second save.
“We did a lot of things right today,” said head coach Mike Martin. “I thought our two-out approach was excellent. We scored two or three runs with two outs and that’s important if you want to be successful. We did a very good job on our at bats today. We still have a long way to go but it is a nice start.”
The top of the FSU order, Shane Robinson, Gibbs Chapman and Aaron Cheesman, continued to be the catalyst for the FSU offense Sunday. Each player recorded multi-hit and multi-RBI games. Cheesman’s three RBIs boosted his total to seven for the series, a mark he didn’t reach until the eighth game of the season in 2004. Chapman and Robinson each recorded two doubles and they are now the club’s top two hitters with Chapman batting .429 and Robinson off to a monster start with a .545 average.
“Shane played these three ballgames like we knew he was capable of playing,” said Martin. “This is a baseball player. He is an outstanding center fielder. He runs well and he is swinging the bat now exactly like we want him to. He is doing the little things it takes to get on base.”
“It is definitely a good feeling,” said Robinson. “I am off to a good start and I hope to continue that through the rest of the season. I think my confidence is up a lot from my experience in summer ball and I just saw the ball really well all weekend.”
The 3-0 start to the season is a key for this Seminole club, which is starting four first-year players. One of those newcomers who made an impact immediately is third baseman Bryan Henry. The sophomore had another big day going 2-for-5 with three RBIs. He now has two doubles and four RBIs in his first three starts.
“Opening weekend was a great feeling,” said Henry. “It is great to get that first ground ball out of the way, first hit and the first everything. Now we are ready to just go out, have fun and play more baseball. It is a dream come true for me to play at Florida State and I can’t even describe what that felt like this weekend.”
“A lot of freshmen coming into the first series will have jitters,” said Robinson. “I had it last year. They (the young players) are making strides and gaining confidence with every appearance, at bat and play in the field. The young guys are really stepping up and helping out the team already. We need that for this to come together.”
Just like Michael Hyde the day before, Barret Browning’s first FSU start got off to a less than perfect start. The junior transfer walked the first batter and gave up a single to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Another walk loaded the bases bringing up CSU clean-up hitter Graham Maiden who came in to the game hitting .167 in the series. Browning got Maiden looking at strike three for the first out and then he put an end to the Buccaneer threat with a 1-2-3 double play to end the top of the first getting out of the inning unscathed.
Thanks to two Charleston Southern errors and a hit batter in the bottom of the second, the Seminoles mounted their first scoring threat of the day. With the bases loaded and two outs CSU starter Bobby Parnell (0-1) couldn’t get out of the jam as Robinson came through with a single through the left side plating his first two RBIs of the year. A walk to Chapman loaded the bases once again but Parnell fought his way out of the inning.
After making two stellar defensive plays in the field in the top of the third, Henry delivered with his bat in the bottom of the frame. Ryne Malone drew a walk to start the inning and Henry came through with a double into the gap in left scoring Malone from first and putting FSU up 3-0.
“That was a good feeling,” said Henry. “I was just trying to keep my hands inside the ball. Coach Martin has been telling me to let the opportunities come to me and don’t try go out and make things happen. That is what I tried to do.”
The Seminoles added to the lead in the fourth. Robinson started things off when he singled on a dribbler down the third baseline. The sophomore then swiped second and came home on a hard hit single by Chapman up the middle.
With the Garnet and Gold up 4-0, CSU tried to mount a comeback in the top of the fifth. A single and a walk, sandwiched around an out, put runners on first and second. Martin, not wanting to let CSU back in the game, went to ace reliever Lynch (2-0) to try to put an end to the threat. The senior right-hander did just that recording a strikeout and fly out to end the top of the fifth. While Lynch went on to record the win, Browning went 4.1 innings without allowing a run.
“Barret walked five people and gave up two hits so to me that is seven hits but the guy showed good poise and you have to remember it is his first outing,” said Martin. “It is what you expect of a guy pitching in this environment for the first time. He is going to be a very good pitcher before it is said and done. He threw too much today and didn’t pitch. When he struggled today he was throwing.”
“I felt good out there,” said Browning. “I was very relaxed. As a junior college transfer I have had some experience at this level. I was excited about my first start and I struggled a little bit with some things but I am very happy with the win. I gave my team the opportunity to get a victory and that was all they asked of me. I feel like I did my part but there are things I still need to work on.”
Buccaneer killer Robinson continued to do damage in the bottom of the fifth. After Nick Francis singled off new CSU pitcher Nino Fasulo, Robinson drove a double just inside the left field line that bounced off the wall and scored the freshman shortstop from first. The hit was the third of the day for Robinson and his third RBI of the game as well.
Charleston Southern used a hit batter, a single and a sac bunt to put a couple of runners in scoring position in the top of the sixth against Lynch. The senior loaded the bases with a walk and a sacrifice fly brought in CSU’s first run of the game. A bouncing single up the middle plated another run for the Bucs before a hit batter loaded the bases up with two away. Lynch ended the rally though by inducing a fly ball to right leaving the bases full of Buccaneers.
Florida State looked to get the two runs back in the bottom of the sixth as Cheesman was hit by a pitch to lead things off and Malone drew a walk. Ryne Jernigan followed with a single to load the bases. Henry came up and cashed in by bouncing a chopper over third scoring two more runs and upping Henry’s total to three RBIs on the day.
The Seminoles went up 8-2 in the seventh when Chapman recorded a single and a steal to get himself in scoring position. Cheesman followed with an RBI single through the left side for his fifth RBI of the season and his third straight game with a run batted in. A Malone single and walk to Jernigan loaded the bases with just one away but Fasulo got the second out on a K and then ended the threat on a grounder to second.
Ryan Strauss came on for FSU in the top of the eighth and gave up back-to-back base hits to start his FSU career. After recording the first out of the inning on a grounder the Buccaneers plated their third run of the game on another ground ball out. A dribbler down the third base line made the score 8-4 with Strauss still looking for that third out in the eighth. The freshman walked the next batter and hit another CSU hitter to load the bases before giving way to Chambliss. The sophomore came in and needed just five pitches to end the threat with a strikeout of pinch hitter Blake Freeman.
A couple of walks and a ground out put runners on the corners for FSU in the eighth for new CSU hurler Payton Tweddale. The left-handed freshman couldn’t hold down the Seminole offense though as Chapman delivered a double off the screen in right making it a 9-4 game. Cheesman followed with a two-RBI single up the middle upping his RBI total to seven on the year and finishing off the scoring as FSU went ahead 11-4.
The Seminoles will be back in action next Friday when they host VMI in a three-game series. The games are scheduled for 3:30 Friday, February 4, 2:00 Saturday, February 5 and 1:00 Sunday, February 6. Game Tracker will be available for all three contests along with a live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.