March 20, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – For the 10th straight year Florida State opened the home portion of its ACC schedule with a sweep as No. 13 FSU downed Virginia Tech 8-1 Sunday. Florida State batters doubled, tripled and homered as the Seminoles recorded 13 hits and seven RBIs. Mark Sauls (3-0) pitched six innings and allowed just one run in the victory. Shane Robinson easily extended his hitting streak to 33 games as he went 3-for-4 with his second home run of the year. Jack Rye also had a big day going 3-for-3 with two RBIs. The win moves FSU to 24-4 and 3-0 in the ACC while Tech falls to 6-8 and 1-6 in conference.
“We had some very good things go our way today,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin. “Certainly Shane had a big day for us. I am very pleased with the approach to the game our young men are taking. We have a long way to and some tough teams left to play. We just have to get better each time out.”
With his fifth straight first inning hit, Robinson tied Marshall McDougall and Ryan Barthelemy for the second longest hitting streak in school history. The last player to reach 33 games was Barthelemy in 1999 and his streak came to an end in Jacksonville where the sophomore will try and tie Drew’s school record Tuesday.
“Every once and a while someone will come up to me on campus and say something about the streak or tell me I had a good game,” said Robinson when asked if he was getting more recognition around Tallahassee as the streak goes on. “I just say thank you and move on. I am not really thinking about it. I am just going out there and trying to get some hits so I can help this team win.”
“Shane is his own kind of player,” said Martin. “This young man has been a tremendous lift to our baseball team thus far but there is a lot of baseball left. What impresses me most about Shane Robinson though is that he is such a team player. I honestly believe he is more concerned about us winning than he is a hitting streak. I am very glad he is a Seminole and boy I hope he continues it.”
Another outfielder that will need to continue his hot hitting for FSU to be successful is Rye. The freshman right fielder is flourishing in the clean up spot where he is hitting .462. The California native had one multi-RBI game in his first 16 starts and now has multiple RBIs in each of his last four starts. Over his last 14 games Rye has hit .523 and raised his average from .222 to .394, second-best on the team.
“I have been looking for fastballs and just hitting the right pitches,” said Rye. “I haven’t changed anything I am just the ball a lot better. The college level is so different. Pitchers at this level pitch backwards. You expect a curve and you get a fastball. It is much harder but I am starting to adjust. Every time I am up there I guess what pitch is coming and right now I am right most of the time.”
Florida State didn’t just benefit from good hitting Sunday and all series long. The Seminole staff allowed just four runs all weekend for a 1.33 ERA and held Hokie batters to an average of just .229. Sauls completed the sweep Sunday as he allowed just three hits and one run in an outing that saw his pitch count stay below 70.
“I felt good and I am thankful I was able to come out here and pitch like I did,” said Sauls. “Coming off the injury I just kept battling out there and hopefully my velocity will come back as I get healthier.”
“Sauls threw well today,” said Martin. “His change-up got a lot better. The ball is starting to show a lot of life. Sometimes he will throw a ball in the low 90’s and then next it will be in the low 70’s. That has a way of affecting hitters. I thought he threw the ball very well today. You can see he is coming back from the arm problems he had six to eight weeks ago.”
Just as he did in the first two games of the series, Robinson extended his hit streak with a knock in the first inning. Robinson got into scoring position on a wild pitch and Aaron Cheesman drove him home on a single to right that was misplayed allowing the catcher to get all the way to third. A Rye single then brought Cheesman home as FSU’s new clean-up hitter recorded another RBI jumping his total to 16 on the year at that point.
The Seminoles went back to work versus Hokie starter Jake Chaney (2-1) in the third. Robinson recorded an infield single and Gibbs Chapman followed with a double off the base of the wall in left field. Cheesman got plunked to load the bases and Rye came up and drove in another run with a single to right. With his third hit in five chances, the freshman is now hitting .600 with the bases.
Sauls didn’t allow his first hit until 4 1/3 in and then gave up back-to-back hits, a single and a double. With runners on second and third and one away a sac fly broke the shutout but also got Sauls one out closer to getting out of the fifth. A grounder to third ended the inning with FSU still in front 3-1.
Two walks and a single loaded the bases for FSU in the fifth off Randy Buffington who replaced Chaney in the fourth. That brought Ryne Malone up with the bases loaded for the second time. In his first at bat he sent a deep shot into the left center that held up long enough for the Tech outfield to run down. Before the first baseman could get the bat on the ball, Buffington uncorked a wild pitch scoring FSU’s fourth run and moving everyone up a base. Malone smashed a grounder to second and Tech came home with the throw but they were unable to tag Rye who slid to the back of the plate. With FSU in front 5-1 and runners on the corners, Buffington was replaced by Bobby West. Jernigan greeted him with a deep fly out to the warning track in left that was good enough to score another run as the lead ballooned to 6-1.
A leadoff single and a walk, surrounding Saul’s first strike out of the game, put the Hokies in business in the top of the sixth. FSU got the second out of the inning at second leaving runners on the corners and two away. Sauls then closed the inning with a grounder back to the mound as he finished the top of the sixth, a new season high for innings pitched for the junior.
Robinson continued to hurt Tech, and every other opponent he has faced, as he recorded another hit in the sixth. After Tony Thomas, Jr. drew a leadoff walk, Robinson sent the second pitch he saw over the wall in left. It was his second home run of the season which set a new personal best for the sophomore who went deep once in 2004. New pitcher Adam Redd walked the batter he inherited and then gave up a single to Cheesman.
The Seminoles play their first of four games with Jacksonville Tuesday night in Jacksonville. The game was originally scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at JU but will now be played at 7:00 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, the site of the 2005 ACC Baseball Tournament. Junior left-hander Hunter Jones (3-0, 3.65) is scheduled to start for the Seminoles. Game Tracker will be available for the contest along with Steve Melewski’s live radio broadcast available on WFLA locally and on the Internet at seminoles.com.