June 6, 2006
Athens, GA – The final game of the 2006 NCAA Athens Regional was a testament to the way the 2006 Seminoles played all season. Florida State fought all the way to the last out staging a near comeback in its last at bat but eventually falling 3-2 to eighth-ranked Georgia. The loss brought the 2006 campaign to an end with the Seminoles posting a 44-21 record.
“Obviously any time you lose it is disappointing,” said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin. “I think you saw the effort from this group. You can’t walk away from here with your heads down.”
FSU got big-game performances all the way through the line-up but none more than All-American Shane Robinson and the pitching staff. Robinson reached base all four times he got to the plate recording three hits. He was the only Seminole with multiple hits and he finished the season by swiping the 100th base of his career.
“Shane has been here three years and was player of the year last year,” said Martin. “He deserves to be an All-American this year. He is the leader and catalyst of our ball club.
“He is as good as any player that we’ve had in a long time. You saw tonight what he could do to a baseball game. He is a winner. He is a great player.”
The Seminole staff allowed just seven hits and recorded six K’s. They were led by starter Mark Sauls who, despite being saddled with the loss, pitched well enough to send FSU to a Super Regional. In his last start in Garnet and Gold, Sauls went 4 1/3, striking out a season-high four batters with three of those K’s coming on called third strikes.
“It hasn’t really set in yet that this is was my last game pitching in college,” said the four-year senior. “I was approaching it like any other game. I was excited and pumped to get out there and throw. Obviously there was a lot of emotion with it possibly being my last start although I was hoping it wasn’t. I wanted to make sure I went out there and did what I thought I could do. I thought I pitched well tonight. I am just blessed to be a part of this team and at Florida State.”
The Seminoles were once again stymied by a freshman Bulldog hurler. Tonight it was Trevor Holder. The right-hander went six innings and allowed just one run. He struck out two and did not issue a walk improving to 4-3 on the season.
“I was hoping he would be a little out of himself early but he went right out there and took command of the strike zone,” said Martin. “He threw his breaking stuff for strikes and he just did a great job of pitching. It is a real credit to him. I was not really expecting somebody of that poise to go out there and get it done. He certainly did a great job.”
Once Holder got the Bulldogs to the seventh, Stephen Dodson and Rip Warren held on to the lead and turned the game over to ace closer Josh Fields. Although the Seminoles staged a rally versus Fields pushing one run across and bringing the potential winning run to the plate, the ace closer shut down the rally to notch his 15th save.
“You have to credit their pitching,” said Martin. “They did a great job of making quality pitches in certain situations. All of the guys they trotted out there were all very impressive.”
For the 30th time in 65 games, Robinson led off by getting on base as he singled off Holder to start the game. Robinson swiped his 100th career base moving into scoring position. Buster Posey laid down a perfect bunt to put runners on the corners with one away. Holder got the second out on a foul ball but he couldn’t get out of the first unscathed. Dennis Guinn lined a shot through the right side plating Robinson who scored his 79th run of the year, leading the NCAA.
Georgia put a runner on with one away in the second as catcher Jason Jacobs singled through the left side. Jacobs swiped second before Sauls walked the number seven hitter in the Georgia order to put two on. Sauls got his second K looking for out number two and then a grounder ended the second.
Sauls put Georgia lead-off hitter Jonathan Wyatt on base with four straight pitches in the third. Then one of the tournament’s top hitters made the senior pay. Center fielder Joey Side sent the first pitch he saw from Sauls over the right field fence putting UGA on top 2-1. It was the third homerun of the tournament for the Georgia outfielder.
Jacobs recorded another infield single as the Bulldogs got the leadoff batter on for the second consecutive inning. Sauls got his third out of the night on a called strike three equaling his season high of four K’s.
Sauls gave up a bloop single with one away in the fifth bringing in Brent Marsh. Marsh got the second out of the inning and then intentionally walked Josh Morris. That brought left-hander Matt DiBlasi into the game to face the left-hander Bobby Felmy. The senior got the first strike and then threw four straight balls to load the bases. Ace closer Luke Tucker then came in and slammed the door on the threat retiring Jacobs for the first time in the game as the catcher watched strike three.
The Bulldogs opened the seventh with a new pitcher as Dodson took the hill after Holder went a career-high six innings. The reliever set FSU down in order.
Tucker gave up a hit with one away in the seventh and then he was called for his second balk of the game. The junior had not been called for a balk all season long coming into the Georgia game. Tucker went 3-0 to Josh Morris before FSU decided to intentionally walk the Dogs top HR hitter for the second time. Tucker threw three more straight balls before moving the count to 3-1 and then losing Felmy to once again load the bases. Tucker then got a big double play as FSU kept the game 2-1 on the 6-4-3 DP.
Robinson tried to start an FSU rally in the eighth as he recorded his third hit of the night. The All-American sent a one out single through the right side to give Florida State its first base runner since Robinson singled in the fifth inning. That brought Warren into the game. The Seminoles had recorded just one hit versus Warren in five previous innings. The set-up man had thrown 79 pitches in his two previous outings though. Jack Rye welcomed Warren to the game by singling to center to put two on. It was the first time FSU recorded back-to-back hits all game. Posey flew out to right for out number two and then Ryne Malone fouled out to end the threat.
A two base error put the Bulldogs in position to get an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. The runner moved to third on a wild pitch before Tucker got the second out on a chopper to first. FSU’s closer was one strike away from getting out of the inning but a Wyatt single through the right side plated the all important third run, which would turn out to be the game winner.
With a two-run lead and only three outs left, UGA brought Fields and his 14 saves into the game. Fields got the first out on a K. He came within one strike of the second out but hit Travis Anderson to bring the tying run to the plate. Tommy Oravetz pinch hit and sent a single to right center putting runners on the corners. Fields got his second out on a foul out that brought Anderson in from third making it a 3-2 game. Josh Spivey pinch hit and drove a ball to third and just missed beating out the throw that would have brought Robinson to the plate for one last at bat.
NOTES: Buster Posey, Shane Robinson, Travis Anderson and Tyler Chambliss were all named to the All-Tournament Team…Shane Robinson stole the 100th base of his career. He is the only player in FSU history to reach the century mark…Robinson recorded three hits in a game for the seventh time this season…both FSU and Georgia stole the first base off one another in their third meeting of the Regional…Mark Sauls had three K’s looking in the regular season and three in the game tonight…Sauls tied a season high for K’s with four…all five of the hits allowed by Sauls came against just two batters (Joey Side and Jason Jacobs)…Luke Tucker was called for the first two balks of his FSU career tonight…Tucker threw a season high 56 pitches…Tommy Oravetz recorded his fourth hit in 12 pinch hit opportunities…FSU failed to reach 45 wins for the first time since 1980…this is the first time in program history that FSU did not reach the NCAA Super Regionals.